Think how long you've been with your current insurance company. The chances are that if you have been with one insurer for more than five years, you can probably get a better deal. New companies are opening up all the time, each offering a competitive rate compared to the ones before it.
If you decide to review your home insurance, first thing to do is check your current level of cover. The main points to look at are:
- Type of cover - Building, contents, or both.
- Amount of cover - How much have you secured your possessions for?
- Recent purchases - Have you bought anything expensive recently?
- Changes in your surroundings - Any recent spates of burglaries nearby could affect your premium.
- Renovations - if you make any major changes to your property it could invalidate a claim.
Let's tackle these one by one.
Type and amount of Cover
Buildings insurance covers the actual property itself - walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors. Usually you will be protected against fire, flood, storm damage and vandalism - if you are not sure, double-check with your insurer. Some policies also cover accidental damage too, in case dad's feet appear through the ceiling while he's insulating the loft! Again, check with your insurer to see if this is included.
Contents insurance does what it says on the tin - it insures all possessions contained within your house, including carpets, curtains and other soft furnishings. This can vary depending on the size of your home, the amount of possessions you have, the value of them, and where you live. Most policies will cover goods up to the value of £50,000. Note that kitchen cabinets are generally classed as coming under contents cover, as are carpets and laminate flooring.
Some companies will ask you to submit a list of the contents you want to be insured, and if you get an old-for-new policy, your damaged goods will be replaced by a new equivalent at a similar market value. Handy if your washing machine breaks down.
Certain items, such as valuable pieces of jewellery, may require a separate policy. You should check with the insurance if this is the case.
When valuing your items for contents insurance, it is vital that you mark the replacement value, not the amount you originally paid for them. This way, you can be sure of replacing your items.
Any valuable items you have purchased since taking out your policy may not be covered, so contact your provider to add them to the contents cover.
Changes in your surroundings
If there have been a run of burglaries in your area recently, you may find your renewal premium has shot up. Some companies quote more than others for homes in high risk areas. If you feel your neighbourhood has 'gone downhill' it's worth seeing if you can find cheap home insurance elsewhere. Likewise, after the floods earlier this year, many premiums have gone up in the areas most affected, so if this includes you, have your hous insurance reviewed to see if a different company can offer you a better deal.
Not many people know this, but if you make any structural changes to your home - such as knocking a wall down or building a conservatory - it can invalidate your premium. If you're planning on making any changes like this, inform your insurance company first to make sure you'll still be covered while work is being carried out.
If you find you're not as well covered as you thought, try switching your home insurance provider to one with a level of cover more suited to your needs.