Everything you need to know about buildings insurance

Buying and managing insurance isn’t the easiest task, and (generally) the industry hasn’t made too much effort to improve things. You’re not alone if you feel confused over terms and conditions, or worry that if the worst happened, you wouldn’t be protected.

Our Home Insurance had changed this, making things simple, straightforward and fast, so that you feel confident in the knowledge that you’ve protected what’s important to you.

As part of our mission to make insurance easy for everyone, we’ve created this simple guide to buildings insurance, giving you jargon-free facts.

What is buildings insurance?

Home Insurance is made up of three types of insurance: buildings, contents and combined buildings and contents insurance. Where contents insurance protects the things inside your home (check out our Contents Insurance guide here), buildings insurance protects the physical home from fire, flood, theft, and damage.

You can buy the two types separately, but if you need both, it’s likely to be more cost-effective to buy a joint policy. Having a joint policy also avoids duplication of cover, and if you do have to make a claim, it keeps it simple.

Is Buildings Insurance compulsory?

It is not a legal requirement for homeowners to have Buildings Insurance. However, if you are taking out a mortgage then buildings insurance is often a requirement of the lender as this acts as collateral against your property until you repay all your loan.

Buildings Insurance covers the cost of rebuilding your house, not the market value. The market value will be higher as this includes the value of the land the property is built on and elements like proximity to schools, transport and so on. If you are having an inspection as part of your mortgage, they will advise you how much to insure your property for. Alternatively, you could pay for a surveyor to work out the cost or use an online calculator at the ‘Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) website (https://abi.bcis.co.uk/register/register.aspx).

If you are buying a flat or a property that is leasehold, then the Buildings Insurance should be covered by the landlord who owns the freehold. Your conveyancer can check this when you are going through the legalities of purchasing your flat.

What should Buildings Insurance cover?

Buildings Insurance covers the cost of rebuilding or repairing the structure of your home if it is damaged, including walls, floors and the roof. It also covers fittings and fixtures, such as bathrooms and kitchens and their fixed appliances like sinks, but not individual items like sofas – these will come under contents insurance.

According to the Money Advice service, you’ll be able to claim if your home is damaged by:

  • Vandalism
  • Subsidence
  • Falling trees
  • Fire, smoke, explosions
  • Car and lorry collisions
  • Water damage from leaking pipes
  • Oil leaking from your heating system
  • Natural events such as storms and floods

What’s not covered by Buildings Insurance?

Cover does not normally include damage due to wear and tear, acts of war or terrorism. If your home is unoccupied for more than 30 days during the year, you could also invalidate the policy.

You also cannot claim on damage caused by bad DIY – so if you’re not the most competent with the toolbox, best to get Handy Andy in to help with your plumbing and electricals rather than risk the damage.

There’s also bad news for animal owners as wear and tear such as chewing, tearing, scratching or fouling by animals will not be covered by many providers. Some insurers also don’t provide cover for vermin infestations, so get rid of any unwelcome mice, rats or insects from your home.

How can I save money on my Buildings Insurance?

First things first, find a good deal. Your mortgage provider will offer you buildings and contents insurance with the purchase of your home, but you don’t have to go with them; there may be better options for you on the market. If you want to take out both Buildings and Contents Insurance, it can be cheaper to combine them or get them both from the same provider, as they may offer you a discounted rate.

If you want to pay less money it’s also worth paying in annual installments, rather than paying monthly. If you can afford to pay your insurance for the year upfront, it can save you around 10% as spreading your costs can raise your premium and incur additional admin costs.

Finally, you can save money by increasing your excess – if you have a higher excess then you will often be offered a cheaper premium rate. This is because if you do make a claim, the insurer will have to pay out less, so it makes you an attractive prospect. If you have a no claims history, this can also work in your favour and some insurers even offer a no claims discount.

When should I start Buildings Insurance cover?

When you purchase a new property, you are the official owner from the completion date. From that point you are liable for anything that happens to your home. However, it is generally recommended that you should take out your Buildings Insurance from the exchange date as from this point you are committed to buying the property.

Can I get Buildings Insurance for a listed property?

If you own a listed property you should definitely take out buildings insurance as repair work can be expensive – properties that are of significant historical or architectural importance in the UK are protected and you will likely need to undertake special work to maintain its original state.

There are specialist insurance firms who can provide you with insurance for listed properties and usually they offer services to recommend approved surveyors, contractors and builders who are experienced in working with heritage properties. This way you can rest assured that should you need to repair any damage made to your building, it is in safe hands.

 

GETTING A QUOTE

How are Buildings Insurance quotes determined?

Your Buildings Insurance cost will be based on various factors (you can read more about the factors here) including security, location, proximity to water, size of the property, your claims history and even lifestyle factors like your age. For example, an older home will cost more to insure than a new build. When a survey of the property is being completed, they will look for things that could affect the property such as subsidence and risk of flooding.

Why are Home Insurance rates going up?

Unfortunately, insurance prices are on the up due to the government increasing Insurance Premium Tax. And, unlike some services, you are not rewarded for loyalty with insurance, so your premium can go up year-on-year. With Homelyfe, the app will send you a reminder that your insurance term is coming to an end and will give you the option to renew, or we’ll quickly search on your behalf for a new policy, so you’ll always get the best deal on your insurance.

MAKING A CLAIM

How do Home Insurance claims work?

If you need to make a claim on your Home Insurance you need to find your policy number and your claims number. You will also need some evidence of the damage. You will also need to clarify whether you are claiming on your buildings or contents insurance, or both.

The sooner you make a claim the better, but most insurers give a window of up to 180 days from the date of the damage to make a claim.

In the case of a burglary, always call the police first, not only will they need to investigate, but they will also give you a crime reference number which will be needed when you make an insurance claim.

As long as you have filled out your insurance application honestly and accurately, claiming will be easy. Depending on what your excess is, you will need to pay this sum, the rest will then be covered by your insurer.

What evidence do I need to provide when making a claim?

The more documented evidence you can produce, such as images of the damage to the house, the more smoothly the claims process will be.

For any large claims, your insurer may send out an investigator, also known as a loss adjuster, to assess the damage and evaluate the costs for repair or replacement.

Can I claim on accidental damage?

Yes – this is the whole point of having insurance, in case an accident happens and you break something (or if it gets stolen). It does mean however, that if you damage an item on purpose, then you can’t claim for it.

 

From the design of the app, to the language we use, everything we do at Homelyfe is aimed at making insurance easier for everyone. So, if you have a home insurance question, tweet us @homelyfe and we’ll add your question to this guide.

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