If you're a homeowner or you're considering buying a home, it's likely that you'll want to protect it. After all, a house is usually one of the biggest investments you'll ever make.
Your building society or bank may require you to take out buildings insurance along with your mortgage - that way their loan to you is protected as well as your home.
You don't have to buy home insurance - whether that's buildings or contents cover - from your mortgage provider, however. In fact, you should always check to see whether another insurance provider can offer you a better deal. You can get a quote from a panel of insurers at www.homeandlife.co.uk.
Here are ten things you might need to think about to help you find the right buildings and contents insurance for your home.
How much would it cost to rebuild my house?
The cover you get on buildings insurance is often based on how much it would cost to totally rebuild your house. If you have had a survey carried out in recent years (e.g. when you bought your property), this may tell you the rebuild value. If not, this calculator from the BCIS (Building Cost Information Service) could help. For maximum protection, you should ensure you take out this amount of buildings cover.
How much would it cost to replace the contents of my home?
As well as buildings insurance you may want to consider contents insurance. After all, you've worked hard to buy all the furniture, appliances and other things in your house, so it needs to be protected. Your insurer would probably be able to estimate the value of your home contents, but it helps for you to give accurate prices too.
Is my home at risk?
You might need a higher degree of buildings or contents insurance if your house is in a 'high risk' area - for example if your area regularly floods, or suffers from earthquakes. You'd need to find cover that would protect you against these events - sometimes this will cost you a bit more.
How much excess can you pay?
For any successful claim on a home insurance policy, you will normally have to pay an 'excess'. This basically means you will make a contribution to the cost of the claim. For example, if you have a £50 excess, you'll pay the first £50 of a claim and your insurer will cover the rest.
You can decide how much you want the excess to be, and if you choose a higher sum for the excess then your premiums may be lower. It's important to make sure you can afford your excess, however - otherwise you might be left in a difficult situation if you need to make a claim.
Consider combining buildings and contents insurance
Sometimes, if you take out combined buildings and contents insurance with the same provider, they will offer it to you for less - so it's worth at least asking.
Do you need specialist insurance?
Often the 'standard' cover that insurers provide will be adequate for your home and its contents. But if you have any expensive jewellery, antiques or works of art, for example, you may need to consider more specialist cover. A specialist insurer may be able to offer you more cover for these items.
Consider paying your premiums annually
It may be more convenient to pay your premiums monthly, but insurers normally charge a fairly high rate of interest for this. So, if you can, it might work out cheaper to pay your premiums in a lump sum annually.
Don't automatically renew with your current insurer
It can be tempting to simply let your home insurance with your current provider renew automatically - as it is usually easier than looking elsewhere. It's worth shopping around, however, to see whether another insurer is offering the cover you need for less.
Get a number of quotes
The easiest way to do this is on a price comparison website. Once you've got a general idea of how much each provider would charge you for your home insurance, you could then go ahead and contact them directly for a more accurate quote.
Keep your home safe
Having approved locks on your doors and windows and approved burglar and fire alarms fitted and working can reduce the cost of your home insurance. Other things can help too - like being part of a neighbourhood watch scheme. It also helps in the long run to build up a no-claims discount, so if something happens to your home that you can afford to repair yourself, it might be worth leaving your insurer out of it. This way you may be offered cheaper insurance next year.