Home insurance policies can vary enormously so it is vitally important that you shop around to get the best deal. Many of us start by visiting comparison sites, and although these are a good place to start you may find that the cheapest policy doesn’t necessarily provide you with cover that’s right for you. It is important to remember that the level of cover and type of policy is equally important, if not more so, than the price. Bear in mind that the worst could happen; over two million claims are made every year, and insurance companies pay out around £10 million every day!
When beginning your search for the best home insurance provider start by comparing different levels of cover and check what isn’t included. It’s important not to assume that what is automatically included by some insurance companies is also included as standard by others; some features are infact optional extras. In the same way don’t pay more for extras that you simply don’t need.
Optional extras usually include the following:
Home emergency cover – less than one in five home insurance policies automatically provide help for home emergencies, and more than half of all insurance providers don’t provide this as an option at all.
Personal belongings cover – this optional extra covers you for loss of items taken outside the home that are not usually covered as part of a standard home contents policy.
Comprehensive accidental damage cover – less than one in five home insurance policies automatically cover you for accidental damage.
In addition, it is important that you check the excess, which is the amount that you have to pay yourself should you make a claim. Many policies tend to have a minimum excess of £100; sometimes increasing this excess will reduce your premium but be sure to set it at a price that you can comfortably afford.
Comparison sites are growing in popularity with approximately eight out of ten people visiting these websites to search for the most competitive home insurance quotes. However, not all companies feature on comparison sites so it is worth checking out the companies who don’t; perhaps if they have been recommended to you by friends or family.
Prior to the introduction of comparison sites many people visited an insurance broker to purchase their home insurance policies. Brokers are particularly suitable if you are looking for home insurance that is not standard; for example, if you live in an area that is susceptible to flooding, or your property is a listed building. If you are buying a new property your mortgage provider will often offer you a buildings and contents insurance policy although these types of policy can sometimes be more expensive so it is worth shopping around. In addition, nowadays credit card providers, retailers and supermarkets also offer insurance policies and many of these do feature on the comparison sites.
When you find an insurance provider that you are happy with both price-wise and with regard to the features and benefits of the policy then there are also certain measures that you can take to reduce your premiums. You can start by installing alarms in your property; both smoke alarms and burglar alarms. By installing approved models you can earn a discount of around 7.5 percent. In addition, you can increase your security measures. Many insurers will only offer your cover if you have approved locks on both your doors and windows anyway, but you may also receive a slight discount if you install security lighting and join your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
Building up your no claims discount can also save your money, which means that if you don’t make a claim for a certain number of years you may get a discount; although this varies from provider to provider. If you are in the market for both contents and buildings insurance then you may also receive a discount by purchasing both types of policy from the same company. This can also make life simpler in the longer term as if there was a fire, for example, or a similar event that affected both the building and its contents then it may be easier dealing with the same insurance company whilst processing your claim.
If you choose to pay for your insurance premium on a monthly basis it may cost you more; sometimes up to 6 percent. You can often cut costs by paying annually, although some providers will allow you to pay by monthly installments with no added interest so again be sure to read the small print. You may also find that many insurers run special offers, for example, offering to beat any quote by up to 10 percent on a like-for-like basis.
Unfortunately, where you live can also have a detrimental effect on the price you have to pay for your buildings or contents insurance. If your postcode indicates that you live in a high risk area (one in which a high number of claims are made either due to flooding, theft or subsidence) then you will be offered a higher premium.
Finally, whichever home insurance company you choose make sure that the answers you provide to their questions are truthful and accurate as if they are not your policy may be invalidated in the event that you make a claim.