If you are thinking about insuring your home, it is important to recognise the distinction between the two main types of home insurance and to understand what each policy will cover you for. If you are a tenant, you do not need to get buildings insurance, as this is the responsibility of your landlord. If you are homeowner, it is strongly recommended that you get buildings insurance, and many mortgage lenders will insist on it. To cover the possessions that you keep in your home, it is necessary for both tenants and homeowners alike to get contents insurance.

What does contents insurance cover?

The full extent of the coverage available for your ‘contents’ will depend on the specific policy you select. However, the following are all classed as ‘contents’ by insurers:  

  • Furniture
  • Clothing
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Audio/visual and other electronic equipment
  • Computers
  • Carpets
  • Curtains
  • Bedding
  • Cash
  • Jewellery

Home contentsAs a rule, most insurers consider your contents to be things that you would take with you if you were to move house. Consequently, garden furniture and other outdoor-related possessions are also included in most contents insurance policies. Many contents insurance policies will also cover you for legal liability as an occupier of the house. This means that should a visitor to your home suffer an injury, you will be covered.

Other things often covered in contents insurance policies are the cost of accommodation plus storage of your possessions if your home has been damaged and is being repaired.

What does buildings insurance cover?

Essentially, a buildings insurance policy will cover damage to the structure of your home: its brick and mortar, as well as fixtures and fittings. Typical buildings insurance policies include coverage for any damage caused by:

  • Fire
  • Flooding
  • Storm
  • Theft
  • Subsidence
  • Riots
  • Vandalism
  • Burst pipesv
  • Falling trees

flooded houseIn the event of any these things causing damage to your property, your buildings insurance will cover the expenses of repairing the structure of the building (this includes flooring and plasterwork), replacing fittings and fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens, dealing with flood damage (ie. drying out the property), providing alternative accommodation while any repairs are being carried that make the home uninhabitable, or any situation in which the damage has made the property uninhabitable. Buildings insurance will also cover the cost of completely rebuilding the property if it has been destroyed.

It is worth bearing in mind that although some policies offer limited cover for accidental damage, buildings insurance does not cover for general wear and tear to your property.

Subsidence and flooding

Some homes are more prone to others to either flooding or subsidence, and people whose homes are in affected areas find it difficult to get a good deal on buildings insurance. Currently, there is an agreement in place between insurers and the government whereby the government is committed to providing enough money for the maintenance and improvement of flood defences and in turn the insurers are committed to offering cover to existing customers who live in areas that have a high risk of flooding – see Home Insurance for Flood Risk Areas for more details.