Let us help you navigate the maze of home insurance.
Choosing insurance can be tricky business and the internet is becoming less of a help than ever before. So-called experts proclaim to know what is best for you, but multiple comparison sites mean there are more options, exclusions, and clauses than ever before. So, how do you know if the policy you are looking at is right for you, or if it covers everything you need it to cover in or around your home?
Having already helped you through one minefield with our article on How to Find the Right Car Insurance for Your Child, we have now put together a guide to getting the right home insurance for you, protecting your family and belongings. Home insurance is especially important for single parent families, where the responsibility for the safety of your children lies solely with you. If a major issue befalls you in the home, ensuring that you have protection as a sole parent is super important, both financially and in terms of your family’s safety and happiness.
What type of cover do I need for my home?
There are many types of insurance you can get for your home, some of which may be compulsory. If you own the building and have a mortgage on it, then it is likely you will already have buildings cover. This is usually protecting the cost of repair after damage to the structure of your property, such as roof, walls, and windows, caused by fire, floods, explosion, storms, or earthquakes. Buildings insurance is required by the mortgage company before money is loaned.
If you do not own your home, then the building’s cover is the responsibility of your landlord. In that instance, there is no obligation for you to have any cover at all, but it is still advisable to cover yourself against unforeseen events. The most common type of home cover is contents insurance, which protects your and your family’s belongings (rather than the structure of your home) from instances such as burglary, fire, or flood damage. According to charity Citizen’s Advice it’s a good idea for any resident to have some form of contents cover, particularly for replacing essential items in the event of unforeseen occurrences, including floods or a burglary when you are on your much deserved annual single parent holiday. That protection can be extended via insurance for different aspects of your home too if you so desire. HomeServe’s comparison guide to gas and boiler coverage explains how you can get specific cover for areas of your home, such as your heating. This can include additional extras such as boiler servicing, which means you are not only covered for breakdown, but also have a preventative measure in place ahead of any serious issues. You could have more than one policy in place to protect your home from crime, disaster, and breakdown of vital services, such as plumbing, heating and drainage. The level of protection you obtain is governed only by your means, and how cautious you are.
What influences home insurance premiums?
There are many factors which could affect your premium, some of which are beyond your control. With both buildings and contents, the replacement cost cover you require could affect how much you pay: If you want cover for expensive single items such as jewellery or high-end camera equipment, there may be a higher premium for you to pay. Similarly, the amount of excess you are willing to pay, i.e. the amount of money you are happy to spend to replace items before insurance kicks in, is also a factor.
Credit and claims history can also play a role in how your premium is calculated. If you have made regular claims in the past, you could see a rise in the cost of future insurance. Your Money explains that the single biggest factor in deciding premiums is your postcode: If you live in an area with higher than average crime rates, you might see quotes higher than those in areas where there is little burglary or crime. With specific cover for areas such as plumbing and drainage on the other hand, the costs tend to be fixed across the board and should not vary depending on your system’s age or condition.
Car insurance tends to be very straightforward, with the range of the cover usually explained in the title. However, with buildings and content insurance, it is important to check the finer details of your policy. For instance, some contents insurance offer new-for-old, so if your TV is damaged in a fire then you would get a brand new one as a replacement. However, some policies have indemnities within that to consider the age of your TV, so if it was 10 years old, the cover would only pay out its current value, not its replacement value.
You can usually add bolt-ons to your cover too, for instance, accidental damage. Many base policies may not cover you if you tumble down the stairs holding your expensive DSLR camera, but if you have accidental damage then you are more likely to be covered in this scenario. Other areas to consider include whether items are covered outside the home, to what extent your garden and outbuildings are covered, and what the maximum value of a single claim might be.
With content cover, it is very much down to you to work out what you need. If you insure a car, the insurer works on the book value of the car as a starting point, but they are not aware of how much your items are worth. It is advisable to walk from room to room, adding up the value of your expensive items to get a clearer understanding of the base figure you need insurance for. You will be asked this when getting a quote, so try to be accurate and remember items such as mobile phones, children’s computers, and jewellery. You will be surprised how things add up!
It is always worth shopping around when getting a quote, so try to use price comparison sites where you can, but be extra careful about what a policy does or does not contain when comparing prices. Also, make sure you shop around when your policy is due for renewal. As a single parent, time is precious, but so is money, and you can make a considerable saving when you compare policies and get the exact cover you need. Finally, if you can afford to do so, try to pay annually, as we suggested with car insurance, as the cost of cover is often lower.