What does home insurance cover? 

Protecting the things you love.

We know it’s important, but what does home insurance cover, exactly? 

Knowing exactly what’s covered on your home insurance policy is key to safeguarding the things you love. Should the worst happen, you want to know that your home — and its contents — are properly protected. 

In this article, we’ll explain exactly what’s covered (and what’s not) by home insurance. We’ll also answer some common questions about home insurance in general, including queries about flood damage, single item limits, and how to lower the cost of your premiums. 

What are you covered for with house insurance?

House insurance (also called home insurance) is quite a general term, so it can mean different things depending on the exact wording of your policy. 

When it comes to house insurance coverage, therefore, it’s always worth checking the details from your insurance provider. For example, does your home insurance cover the structure of your building, the contents, or both? 

Having building insurance protects the structure of your home and any permanent fixtures or fittings against disasters such as fire, flood, or other unforeseen events. Contents insurance, on the other hand, covers belongings within your home, such as furniture, carpets and clothes. 

Most homeowners are going to need home insurance that includes both building and contents insurance. So, we’ll explain exactly what each type of policy covers in more detail below.

What can you claim on building insurance?

While it’s always crucial to check the details of your own home insurance policy, here’s a list of what’s typically covered under building insurance: 

  • Extreme weather events: for example, storms, wind and floods
  • Damage from smoke and fire
  • Vandalism
  • Damage from vehicle collisions and falling trees
  • Explosions
  • Subsidence 
  • Damage from leaks: such as from heating systems and pipes

Building insurance protects your home against a wide variety of unforeseen events, but some scenarios don’t typically come standard. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common exclusions: 

  • Damage from poor maintenance, wear and tear and bad workmanship
  • Damage from frost
  • Damage from pests or birds
  • Damage that’s occurred when your home has been unoccupied for an extended length of time

Read more: Building insurance vs home insurance: What’s the difference? 

What’s covered under contents insurance?

Contents insurance is designed to protect belongings within your home from damage, theft, or loss. Generally, the following items are included under contents insurance (but always check the details of your particular policy): 

  • Appliances 
  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Electronics and gadgets
  • Carpets and rugs
  • Jewellery 

Other items, such as fine art, vintage wine collections and musical instruments might also be covered, but it’s always worth telling your insurer about these items to make sure you’re adequately protected. 

As with building insurance, contents insurance generally comes with exclusions. Here are some common examples: 

  • Wear and tear, poor maintenance and poor workmanship
  • Deliberate damage done by someone living in your property
  • Things that have been stolen because an intruder got into your home through unforced entry
  • Electrical or mechanical faults and breakdowns
  • Belongings that have been lost
  • Damage by pets
  • Claims that arise when your home is left unoccupied for an extended period

Contents insurance also doesn’t usually cover accidental damage or belongings that are taken outside your home (such as mobile phones and laptops), although you can usually pay extra for these to be added on. 

Do I need both building and contents insurance?

Most homeowners are going to need a home insurance policy that covers both contents and building insurance. 

But there are exceptions to this. 

For example, if you rent your home, then the landlord is responsible for building insurance, but you’ll probably still want contents insurance for your belongings. (You’ll be responsible for sourcing and covering these premiums yourself.) On the other hand, if you’re a landlord of an unfurnished property, you might decide not to get contents insurance as tenants will insure their own items.

If you’re a student, you might consider taking out specialist insurance policies, like student content insurance to make sure you have the right cover in place.

What if I live in a high flood risk area?

Historically, properties in high flood risk areas are harder to insure. 

However, thanks to Flood Re, a government-backed scheme launched in 2016, home insurance is now more accessible to those living in flood-prone areas. Flood Re works as a reinsurance scheme, which means that the government will pay back insurers for elements of valid flood insurance claims. 

Flood Re is managed by your insurer — not by you personally. So it’s up to your insurer to set the excess, terms, and prices for including flood protection as part of your home insurance.

What is a single item limit? 

When reading over the terms and conditions of your home insurance policy, you’ll probably come across something called a “single item limit” (or sometimes, a “single article limit”). This specifies the maximum amount your insurance company will pay out for any single item. 

Paying attention to this limit is important, as you might find that you have particularly valuable items that exceed this — such as pieces of jewellery or watches. You’ll need to tell your insurer about these items, so they can be insured for their full value separately on your policy. 

Is it worth claiming for a TV on home insurance?

TVs tend to be one of the bigger ticket items in people’s homes, and are usually insured. However, before making a claim, it’s worth considering the following: 

  • How was the TV damaged or stolen? Remember general wear and tear and unforced entry by thieves aren’t usually covered by home insurance. 
  • Is your TV valued above the single item limit? Has it been named separately on your home insurance policy? 
  • How much excess will you need to pay when making a claim? Will claiming for the cost of the TV still be worth it once you’ve paid this value?

It’s also worth remembering that making a claim on your home insurance now can drive up the cost of your premiums in future.

Does home insurance cover ceiling damage?

Yes — home insurance usually covers unforeseen events such as a storm causing a burst pipe that results in ceiling damage. 

But, at risk of sounding like a broken record here: it’s always worth checking the terms and exclusions of your home insurance policy. Remember, damage due to poor maintenance or frost isn’t typically covered under most home insurance policies. Make sure you don’t get caught out.

How can I reduce the cost of my home insurance? 

Insurance, including for buildings and contents, can be pricey, especially if you include cover for more valuable items and add-ons like accident insurance. 

But there are still ways you can keep those pricey premiums to a minimum: 

  • Try combining both contents and building insurance under one policy. 
  • Boost your home’s security and tell your insurer about any systems you have in place, such as security cameras or burglar alarms. 
  • Increase the excess payable on your policy (but be aware that this means you’ll have to pay more should you need to make a claim). 
  • Choose to pay for your insurance annually rather than monthly. 
  • Use a specialist insurance broker to help you find the best home insurance policy for you — at the right price. 

Summing up: What does home insurance cover? 

Depending on the exact policy, home insurance can include a variety of things, including building insurance on its own, or buildings and contents insurance combined. 

In general, building insurance covers the structure of your home (and any fixtures or fittings) against unforeseen events, such as fire, flood, or vandalism. In contrast, contents insurance covers belongings within your home, such as furniture, jewellery, and appliances. 

But home insurance policies usually come with exclusions — such as for accidental damage, or when your home has been unoccupied for an extended length of time — so it’s always worth checking the details to make sure you have adequate cover in place. 

The good news is that a specialist insurance broker like Howden can help you find the right home insurance for you and your needs, including specialist policies. Contact us today and we’ll help you find the coverage that suits you best.

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