Home Insurance – All you need to know
When moving home, insurance may not be the first thing on your mind. However, having insurance in place before the big day arrives can save a lot of worry and stress.
We have compiled a simple guide, sharing some of the most common questions and answers encountered when organising home insurance, to help ease the process.
Why is insurance so important?
Far from being an extra unnecessary cost, home insurance ensures home owners are financially protected from any damage or unlikely events such as fires and storms.
Most mortgage providers make home insurance a condition of the loan, so getting the right cover in place is essential.
For peace of mind, compare prices and cover around 3 weeks in advance of your date of entry and for Scottish moves ensure that cover takes effect from a minute past midnight on the date of entry. If your move is elsewhere in the UK you will need to have cover in place when contracts are exchanged.
What type of cover do I need?
When it comes to home insurance there are two areas you need to consider – buildings cover and contents cover. They each have a different purpose and not everyone will require both types.
Buildings insurance is what your mortgage lender will ask you to have. This covers the property itself, usually for any damage to the structure, fixtures and fittings. For property owners, building insurance is crucial. However, renters can worry less about this as the responsibility lies with the landlord.
Contents insurance concerns the items you keep in your home, garage and garden shed. It therefore protects all belongings from furniture to jewellery, offering cover for theft, damage and loss. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you require contents to be covered outwith the home, you may require additional cover and you should discuss this with your insurance provider. Additionally certain valuable items such as jewellery, sports equipment and antiques may need to be specified on a policy and it is again important to discuss this with your provider.
If you are renting a property, the landlord is not liable for insuring your contents and therefore it’s important to have contents cover in place.
How much do I insure for?
The figure to insure your buildings for is not the market value of your property and instead it’s the cost to rebuilding your home that you need to consider. Should the worst happen and your home is destroyed beyond repair, the figure you insure should be sufficient to clear the site and rebuild your home. The cost of kitchens, bathrooms and fixed flooring such as tiles and wooden flooring need to be included within your buildings cover. You also need to take in to account the cost of garden walls, decking, patios and garden landscaping.
The home report will detail the estimated reinstatement cost for insurance purposes. If your property is of traditional construction or has specialist architectural features, this figure can be higher than the market value.
It’s necessary to make your insurer aware if your property is a listed building and when viewing a property, check if it is near water, or if there are any tall trees in the garden (or a neighbouring garden), as these are relevant points your insurance provider will ask about.
When arranging contents cover, you need to consider the cost of everything from the lawnmower in the garden shed to the cutlery in the kitchen drawer, designer handbags to household appliances. It’s surprising how, over the years this figure can grow to be much higher than you would at first realise. Moving home provides a good opportunity to make a home inventory, document what you have in each room and put a ‘to buy new’ cost beside it. You will also need to consider any additional items that you will be purchasing for your new home.
It’s vital to check that your contents will be covered on moving day. Whether you are doing the move yourself, or getting a specialist company to manage the move for you, you are essentially putting all of your treasured possessions in to a container on wheels and there are risks associated with that. Consider as well if you will be putting items in to storage.
Some insurance policies cover ‘goods in transit’, but this can be restricted to moves handled by professional firms only and certain items can be excluded so it’s best to check with your provider.
Many professional removal firms offer insurance cover but it is possible to arrange ‘House Mover’ insurance yourself and you should consider this if your insurer excludes goods in transit.
Should I keep my old insurance or get a new policy?
Home insurance prices are dependent on factors such as the address and type of property. Once a mover informs their current provider of the new home’s details, the provider can update the policy and advise any adjustment in premium.
It can be worth doing some research in case a better deal can be found. Some insurers offer discounts for new customers and multi-insurance details which may be cheaper for those taking out both buildings and contents insurance.
Many mortgage providers also offer the option to take out insurance with them; however it is also worth investigating other options to determine if this is truly the best deal.
Do bear in mind that if you are cancelling a policy mid-term there may well be cancellation charges.
Value should always be considered, as the cheapest deals won’t necessarily be the best. Conditions to look out for include excess charges and exclusions in policies, which may influence a mover’s final decision.