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Buildings insurance

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What is buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance covers your home’s physical structure - that means all its permanent fixtures such as the:

  • Roof
  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Bathroom fittings
  • Ceilings

Garages, sheds and fences are usually covered too.

Buildings insurance doesn’t cover loss or damage to your home’s contents though. To protect all your possessions you will need a contents insurance policy. A combined home insurance policy can often work out cheaper than taking out two separate policies.

If you have a mortgage, buildings insurance is usually compulsory as the lender will insist you’re covered to protect its investment. If you’re renting your home, your landlord should have a policy in place to protect the building. Your policy should also cover the full rebuild of your home should disaster strike.

What does buildings insurance cover?

Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing damage caused by:

  • Flooding, fire and storms
  • Natural disasters
  • Subsidence and fallen trees
  • Vehicle collisions
  • Water damage caused by burst pipes
  • Vandalism

There are also some optional extras that you can include in your buildings insurance policy for an added fee:

Your policy should also provide you with temporary accommodation if you can't live in your home while repairs are being carried out.

Buildings insurance doesn’t cover the cost of ongoing maintenance for your home. Some claims may also be rejected if essential maintenance hasn’t been carried out.

Exact cover varies between providers so check what’s included when you are doing your buildings insurance comparison.

Do I need buildings insurance?

This depends on your situation. You’ll probably need buildings insurance if you own your home. Examples include:
  • If you’re a homeowner with a mortgage. Your mortgage lender will usually insist that you have buildings insurance.
  • If you’re a landlord you’ll need to buy buildings insurance as you’re the owner of the property and responsible for its upkeep.

Who doesn't need buildings insurance?

  • If you’re a renter or a tenant. The property is your landlord’s responsibility.
  • If you’re a flat owner, because your flat is part of a freehold building which should be insured by the landlord. It’s important to check the arrangement with your flat to be sure.
  • If you’ve paid off your mortgage, buildings insurance isn’t a legal requirement. However, it’s a sensible investment that could spare you some expensive bills if the worst does happen.

What should I consider when choosing buildings insurance?

Before buying a policy it’s important to check:

  • What’s included as standard
  • The amount of excess
  • How long you can leave your home unoccupied
  • Alternative accommodation
  • No-claims bonus (NCB)
  • What isn’t covered by your policy

What’s included as standard such as damage by fire, floods, storms and subsidence, which are usually covered. However, accidental damage insurance often needs to be bought as an add on.

The amount of excess you need to pay if you make a claim. There’s often a compulsory excess set by the insurer but you may be able to reduce the price of your insurance by agreeing a voluntary excess that you pay towards any claim.

How long you can leave your home unoccupied is something to take into consideration if you’re away for long periods of time. Many policies won’t cover your home if it’s left unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days.

Alternative accommodation is important if your home suffers serious damage by fire or flood. Make sure to check with your provider that this is provided if you’re concerned about damage to your home as there may be limits as to how much you can claim.

No-claims bonus (NCB) should build up if you don’t make a claim during the policy year. You may be able to build up your NCB and enjoy lower insurance prices.

What isn’t covered by your policy may include accidental damage to your home or poor workmanship. Also, you may not be covered for pest infestations or frost damage.

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How much should I insure my building for?

It’s important to insure your home for the amount that it would cost to rebuild. This can be tricky to work out yourself. Read our guide to find out how to calculate the rebuild cost of your house.

Don't worry if you're unsure about the value. When you get a buildings insurance quote we work with our friends at RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) to calculate an estimated rebuild cost based on the details you provide, using its Building Costs Information Service.

What factors make up my home’s rebuild value?

The calculator we use when you get a quote, provided by the Buildings Cost Information Service, will consider many factors, including:
  • The age of your property
  • The building materials used
  • The location of your property
  • Subsidence risk
  • Flood risk
  • Whether or not the property is listed
  • The number of doors, windows and rooms

If your house has a rebuild value of over £500,000 - your home might be classed as 'high value'. This usually happens with listed buildings insurance as repairing any damage may require specific materials, which can increase costs. It's worth talking with your insurer, as some offer high value home insurance as a specific policy.

If you're a landlord, you may need a specialist policy that is designed for rental properties to cover the extra risks involved. Find out more about landlord insurance

You’ll need to let us know if your property is at risk of flood, or has previously been flooded by an external source, such as a river, heavy rainfall or the sea.

Roughly one in six properties in the UK is at risk of flood damage, and the number of people at risk is predicted to grow significantly over the next few decades.

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Compare buildings insurance quotes

How much does buildings insurance cost?

The average price of buildings insurance is £197.262 but prices can vary considerably depending on the type of home you want to insure:

Insurance companies will take into account a huge range of factors from the property’s location through to its size and age. As a rule of thumb, larger and listed properties will cost more to insure, as will those in areas where there is a higher risk of flooding.

2September 2021 Confused.com data - top average premium excluding quotes with claims or accidental damage.

How do I get a cheaper buildings insurance quote?

There are ways to make sure you don’t spend more than you need to on your insurance:
  • Don’t over insure. It’s important to give an accurate cost of rebuilding your property, otherwise you’ll end up paying for more cover than you need.
  • No-claims bonus (NCB) is a great way of saving money for future policies. If you’ve not previously made a claim you’ll usually be rewarded with a discount from the insurer. The more years you go without claiming, the bigger the discount applied.
  • Explore policy options to try and find a cheaper policy. If you’re a homeowner it’s typically cheaper if you opt for a combined policy covering both buildings and contents insurance from the same insurer.
  • Paying annually, rather than paying monthly instalments, is often the cheaper option. If you pay monthly, insurers can charge interest and admin fees on top of your price.
  • Shopping around can also be an effective way of finding a cheaper policy. Don’t just accept your renewal quote from your existing provider. It’s not always the best deal.
  • Installing smoke alarms could also reduce your premium. Regardless of potentially saving you money, you should have smoke alarms fitted and regularly maintained in your home.

What details do I need to get a buildings insurance quote?

To get a quote for buildings insurance you’ll need to know:
  • The type of heating system installed in the home
  • The rebuild cost of your home, not the market value
  • The date you bought the property and the year it was built
  • Details of any previous claims

Need more help?

Can I get a buildings insurance policy if I don’t own the property?

No. Only the owner of a property can buy the buildings insurance. If you’re not the building owner but you’re worried about appropriate buildings insurance, you can check with the building’s proprietor or landlord to check this cover is in place.

If you’re a tenant, you make want to look at contents insurance to make sure your personal possessions are covered.

Can I get buildings insurance in a flood risk area?

Yes, you can protect your home against flooding even in a flood risk area. The government and insurers have an agreement which allows for affordable insurance even in flood risk areas, it’s called Flood Re.

Find out more about flood insurance.

Does buildings insurance cover renovations and extensions?

Your buildings insurance should cover your whole property. If you decide to have an extension or make major changes to your property it’s important to tell your insurer to make sure you have the right amount of cover for your home.

Do I need building insurance if I rent a property?

No, if you rent your property you don’t need to take out buildings insurance. Your landlord should have this covered as the owner of the property.

Do I need buildings insurance?

If you have a mortgage, lenders will insist you have buildings insurance. However, as the cost of repairs can be very expensive it’s recommended for all property owners, including landlords.

Do I need buildings insurance on my flat?

If you own a freehold flat it’s your responsibility to buy buildings insurance. However, if you own a leasehold flat, the building should be covered by your landlord. Take a look at flat insurance for more information.

Do I have to get my buildings insurance through my mortgage provider?

No. Although your mortgage lender will require you to have buildings insurance you don't have to buy it from your mortgage provider unless it's a specific requirement of your mortgage contract.

Lenders will often offer policies from their own insurers. This does mean that as they're usually the only insurer offering you buildings cover when you’re arranging your mortgage, there’s less need for them to competitively price your insurance policy.

You can often save money by shopping around and comparing quotes from a number of insurers. That's where we can help.

How do I find out when my home was built?

You should be able to find out the age of your property on the title register or title deeds which prove you own your property. This should have been sent to you by your conveyancer when you bought the property.

What documents do I need to get a buildings insurance quote?

There are no specific documents you’ll need to buy building insurance. However it’s helpful to be up to speed with the basic facts about your property, for example how old it is and what it is made of.

What is home emergency cover?

Home emergency cover is an optional extra that covers you for unexpected situations such as boiler breakdown or leaks from a burst pipe. It usually offers homeowners access to a 24-hour emergency helpline. If emergency assistance is required from a tradesperson then the call-out costs, labour and repair costs are covered.

What is the difference between buildings and contents insurance?

Buildings insurance covers the physical structure of your property while contents insurance protects the things in it, such as your TV, washing machine, jewellery and family heirlooms. They can be bought separately or combined in one policy.

Will building insurance cover subsidence?

Most building insurance policies cover for any damage caused by landslip, subsidence or heave to your property. It generally covers repairs and rebuild costs. In the event of a claim you can expect to pay around £1,000 excess.

Will buildings insurance cover rising damp?

Typically, insurers don’t cover for gradual damage caused by damp. If you have signs of damp in your home it’s best to get them checked by a professional. Our guide can help you to spot the common signs of damp.
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What our home insurance expert says:

Most mortgage providers will insist you have buildings cover in place. Even if you own your property outright, buildings insurance is still a no-brainer. Structural repairs to your home can be pricey, especially if any damage caused requires a re-build. It can give you peace of mind that if something does happen, you’re not left out of pocket.
Jessica Willock home insurance expert signature

Jessica Willock

Home insurance product manager