What's the difference between buildings insurance and contents insurance?
Buildings insurance covers the structure of the home together with its fixtures and fittings: it covers the cost of repair or rebuilding after fire or weather damage for instance. Contents insurance covers the contents of your home, the possessions you would take with you if you moved house.
What does buildings insurance normally cover?
It covers the main structure of your home. If it were to subside, burn down or be damaged or destroyed by extreme weather, your policy will cover the costs of rebuilding or repair. It also normally covers any permanent fixtures in your home like built-in wardrobes, light fittings, kitchen surfaces, taps, basins, baths and showers.
Do check your buildings insurance policy for any exclusions – most policies will include cover for outbuildings, boundary walls, gates, pools, drives and paths as standard. They will also typically cover the cost of temporary accommodation should your home need to be rebuilt – or if you need to move out because your home is severely damaged, for instance by flood.
What does contents insurance normally cover?
Contents insurance covers the contents of your home and your personal possessions – all the things you would normally take with you when you move house. Your furniture, carpets, computer, entertainment equipment, CDs, DVDs, videos, valuables, clothing, personal belongings – even the food in your freezer! You may be asked to specify certain items on the policy and you may be asked to make additional security provisions such as locks or a burglar alarm if you live in an area with a high theft rate. Many contents insurance policies will also cover your belongings when you are away from your home or on holiday – or this cover can be requested separately.
What sort of things are NOT covered by my buildings insurance?
Most claims can be settled. As you can see from the list below, it’s typically only the very rare, extreme or unlikely occurrences that are not covered – for example:
- General wear, corrosion, wet or dry rot.
- Any gradually operating cause or effect.
- Mechanical or electrical breakdown.
- Radioactive contamination from nuclear fuel or nuclear waste.
- Any radioactive, toxic, explosive or other effect of any nuclear equipment.
- War, invasion, act of foreign enemy, hostilities whether war be declared or not, civil war, rebellion, revolution or military/usurped power.
- Loss of value of an item following the payment of a claim.
- Computer viruses or loss of computer data.
- Damage resulting from acts of terrorism (as defined in the policy).
Do remember that some types of chemical or biological pollution or contamination are covered – make sure you check this with your insurer.
Do I get a discount for not making a claim?
Many insurers will give you a claim-free discount if you haven’t claimed on your buildings insurance or contents insurance after one year. Maximum discounts can usually be achieved after five or more claim-free years. Check with your insurer to see what their terms are.
What amount should I insure my buildings for?
This is the cost of rebuilding your property – not the market value of the property itself. Check out the Association of British Insurers’ helpful cost calculator
What is "new for old"?
Items lost or damaged beyond repair will be replaced at today’s purchase price. The advantage is that you won’t be left out of pocket when replacing items. Please note that “new for old” does not apply to all of your contents, and items such as clothing, household linen and pedal cycles may have wear and tear taken into account. Any cash settlements may also take trade discounts into account.
Do I get accidental damage cover automatically?
Yes, but only for some items. Standard policies provide cover for damage to TV, video, audio, computer equipment and glass under contents and cover for accidental damage to services (cables, underground pipes and drains), fixed glass, sanitary ware and ceramic hobs for buildings.
For an additional premium this can be increased to include full Accidental Damage to include damage to almost all household items.
What is Personal Belongings Cover?
This provides cover for loss or damage to items you normally carry in everyday life such as your camera, glasses, MP3 player and jewellery.
This would give you cover for unspecified items anywhere in the world. Any items worth over £1,500 will need to be specified on your policy. An additional premium applies to this cover.
What is an excess?
Excess is the amount you contribute if you make a claim for loss or damage to or from your home.
You must make sure that the sum insured is kept up to date to allow for changing rebuilding costs. Many insurers help by ‘index linking’ your policy. This simply means that your sum insured is altered automatically whenever there is a change in the rebuilding cost. Usually there is no charge for any increase between renewal dates. Index linking can work properly only if your sum insured is right to start with. Then make sure you keep it up to date by telling your insurance company if you improve your home – perhaps by installing central heating or building an extension. Do not rely on index linking alone to keep your sum insured up to date. Review your cover every few years.
Do I receive a cheque after a claim?
Some people prefer to receive a cheque for their loss but this is becoming increasingly infrequent. Most contents insurance companies will replace items for you as they can bulk-buy. This reduces the cost of claims and ultimately helps keep premiums lower.
What does "Self Contained" mean?
Please select ‘yes’ if the property has its own facilities, such as kitchen or bathroom, that are not shared by anyone not living in the property that is to be insured. The property must be self contained with its own entrance that is under your sole control. If it is not, please select ‘no’.
I don't live in the UK – can you still insure me?
Sorry – We can only implement policies in the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands (excluding N. Ireland)
What is a "valuable"?
Jewellery (including costume jewellery), articles of or containing gold, silver or other precious metals, cameras (which include video cameras and camcorders), binoculars, watches, furs, paintings and other works of art, collections of stamps, coins and medals.
Individual items of personal belongings valued in excess of £1,500 should be listed separately. Items valued in excess of £2,500 may require evidence of value.