Insuring your home and belongings

This page looks at the different kinds of insurance you need to take out to protect your home and cover you in case anything goes wrong.

Do I need insurance?

Insurance protects you against the risks of every day life. If something goes wrong, you can claim on your insurance and it will pay for the damage to be put right. For example, if your home is flooded you can claim on your buildings and contents insurance to pay for the repairs and replace your belongings.

In return for this cover, you pay a premium to the insurance company. This may be a one off payment (as in the case of travel insurance) or a yearly or monthly payment.

If you're lucky, you'll never need to make a claim, but if something does go wrong, insurance can save you thousands of pounds.

Buildings insurance

Buildings insurance covers any loss or damage to the structure and fittings of your home. This includes kitchen units, the bath and toilet, fitted carpets, and interior decor - in other words, the things that can't be removed.

If you own your home you will need to arrange and pay for your buildings insurance. If you rent your home your landlord is responsible for arranging and paying for this.

Remember, you'll need separate contents insurance to cover your furniture and belongings.

Buildings insurance should cover you for:

  • fire damage

  • storm and flood damage

  • leaking or burst water pipes

  • subsidence, heave and landslip (these affect the foundations of the home)

  • earthquakes

  • damage caused by vandals.

Buildings insurance has to cover the cost of rebuilding your home from scratch, for example if it burned down. Your surveyor will work out the rebuilding cost as part of your home buyer's report, as it won't necessarily be the same as the property's market value. This cost will go up over the years with inflation, and your insurer should allow for this. However, it's best to check your policy every few years, to make sure it is still adequate.

Your policy may well state that you have to pay an excess towards the cost of a claim. This will vary depending on the insurer, so check your policy carefully.

Mortgage insurance

You may need to take out insurance in case you are unable to pay your mortgage, for example because you fall ill or are made redundant. There are several different types of mortgage insurance.

Contents insurance

Contents insurance covers you if your belongings are stolen or damaged by fire, flood, subsidence or other accidents that aren't your fault. You can also choose to take out additional cover for accidental damage caused by you. So for example if your bathroom floor needs replacing because a water pipe burst, you could claim for a new floor on your insurance. If it needs replacing because you let the bath overflow, you would need accidental damage cover to claim on your insurance.

Some expensive goods, such as jewellery, art and antiques, may need to be insured separately. You can also extend the cover for items you take out of the home, such as jewellery, a laptop computer or a bicycle.

Your contents insurance needs to cover the cost of replacing all your belongings if they are destroyed, for example if your home burned down. This total cost is called the 'sum insured'. Make sure this sum is enough to cover the cost of replacing all your goods - if you buy something new, such as an expensive three-piece suite or a wide-screen TV, you may need to increase the sum insured.

If you rent your home it is your responsibility to arrange and pay for contents insurance. You're landlord does not have to provide this.

If you own your home you may save money if you take out buildings and contents insurance together. This is sometimes called household insurance.

Other kinds of insurance

You may also want to take out:

  • life insurance (you can find out more about this on the page about mortgage protection)

  • a pension

  • medical insurance

  • car insurance

  • payment protection insurance (this covers your debts if you become ill or are made redundant)

  • pet insurance

  • insurance for your boiler or other household appliances.

Buying insurance

You can buy insurance almost anywhere. You don't need to buy all your insurance policies from the same company, so it's well worth shopping around to find the best deals for you. There are many websites which allow you to compare different policies quickly and easily to find the one that's best for you. Try:

When you are comparing prices be aware that different policies will provide different levels of cover and include different services. For example:

  • some policies may make you pay an excess towards the cost of a claim

  • some policies will offer you a no claims bonus if you don't make any claims within a set time limit

  • some policies will cover you for a wider range of accidental damage

  • some companies have a free telephone helpline you can call for advice.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 16 February 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England