There are two types of household insurance – buildings and contents. They are separate entities and you can either search for two individual policies, or buy them as a joint policy from one source, which is a competitive way of buying nowadays, moreover if you are unfortunate enough to end up in a situation where one incident affects both the building and its contents, such as a fire, there will be no issues as to who is paying for what.
This covers the actual structure of your home. It will always include the main building and can be extended to cover sheds, the garage, fences, swimming pool etc. Buildings insurance is only a consideration if you own the property. If you own a flat you will still be responsible for buildings cover, usually as determined by the ground rent and buildings agreement, which usually means that the liability to cover is apportioned between properties. This is sometimes covered under the Service Charge.
If you are a homeowner, having buildings insurance in place would normally have been a condition of your mortgage. A good buildings insurance policy should cover you for fire, flood, subsidence, storms, lightning, theft or vandalism, escape of water and oil, and damage caused by falling trees, branches or other objects.
This covers practically everything within your home including furniture, household goods, food and drink, TVs, computers, clothing and valuables, usually up to a stated limit. This type of insurance is not compulsory and no mortgage lender can insist you take out contents cover so you will need to source this yourself.
This policy pays out if any of your home contents are lost or damaged, following a burglary or a fire, an explosion, leaks or vandalism, and also for accidental damage. Many insurers cover the cost of replacing locks if your keys are stolen. Most policies may be extended to cover accidental damage or loss of valuable items you frequently take out of your home, such as jewellery, cameras and sports equipment. This is known as an ‘all risks extension’. Many people underestimate the value of their home contents. To get a clear idea of the sum to be insured, go through every room – including the loft, garage, cellar and shed – and write down what it would cost to replace every item at today’s prices.