Buildings Insurance

What is buildings insurance and where can you get the best deals?

You may think it’s unlikely that your home will be destroyed by a disaster such as a fire but the consequences would be serious without buildings insurance to cover the cost.

What is buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance pays out to cover the cost of repairing the structure of your home such as the walls and roof if it’s damaged due to things like fire, flood, vandalism, burst pipes and fallen trees. It also covers the cost of completely rebuilding it if it’s destroyed.

As well as the building itself it covers permanent fixtures such as bathroom suites and fitted kitchens and other structures on your land such as garages, sheds and fences. You can also add cover for extras including accidental damage and legal expenses.

You don’t need it if you’re a tenant or usually a leaseholder as the landlord or freeholder is responsible for taking it out.

How does buildings insurance work?

You pay an annual premium to an insurer (you can pay for it monthly but this usually costs more) for financial protection should your home get damaged or destroyed.

The level of cover you take out should be the rebuild cost of your home although policies will often give you unlimited cover at no extra cost.

The rebuild cost isn’t the same as the market value of your home and will depend on various factors, including its location. The big comparison sites provide an estimate of what the rebuild cost might be using information from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors when you enter your criteria.

Buildings insurance pros and cons

Pros:

  • Buildings insurance gives you the money to repair or rebuild your home if something happens to it, which could be very difficult to pay for if you’re uninsured and could leave you homeless.
  • Many policies give you unlimited cover without charging you more, which means working out the rebuild cost of your home is less important.

Cons:

  • If you need to make a claim you’ll have to pay part of the amount yourself. This is known as the ‘excess’ and is usually a few hundred pounds. It helps to keep the cost of your insurance down and the more you agree to pay the cheaper your policy is likely to be. You can choose how much voluntary excess you pay but the total payable tends to be more.
  • Rebuild costs tend to increase over time and it will go up if you make improvements to your home, such as by adding an extension or converting the loft, so you should review it every year.
  • Certain things aren’t covered, which could include wear and tear, and damage caused by insects or birds, but check the exclusions on policies before you take one out.

Which buildings insurance comparison site can save you the most?

We gathered buildings insurance quotes from the four biggest price comparison sites – Compare the Market, Confused.com, Go Compare and MoneySuperMarket – for three different scenarios to give you an idea of how much you might pay and how quotes differ.

The quotes below are for a three-bedroom semi-detached house lived in by two adults and two children in Greater London, Edinburgh and rural Hampshire with rebuild costs of £269,000, £226,000 and £240,000 respectively.

Prices are with a 10-year no-claims bonus (a discount you get for having had buildings insurance for a number of years without making a claim) and a voluntary excess of £250 but total excesses differ. The cheapest quote for each scenario is shown in bold.

Some comparison sites give you certain rewards when you take out home insurance through them. These are also included below.

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Buildings insurance comparison site costs compared:

Comparison siteGreater LondonEdinburghRural HampshireComparison site rewards
Compare the Market£124.87 (Esure), total excess £375£71.55 (Admiral), total excess £350£112.21 (Rias), total excess £3002 for 1 cinema tickets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; discounts on takeaway food and eating out
Confused.com£119.07 (Esure), total excess £375£74.48 (Admiral), total excess £350£116.68 (Rias), total excess £300Choice of free HelloFresh recipe box, 12 free car washes or £20 to spend at Halfords or Domino’s Pizza
GoCompare£124.87 (Esure), total excess £375£75.24 (Admiral), total excess £350£116.64 (Rias), total excess £300None
Money Super Market MoneySuperMarket£124.87 (Esure), total excess £375£80.55 (Admiral), total excess £350£103.81 (Rias), total excess £300None

Notes: Quotes gathered on 24 May 2021 for a policy starting on 1 June 2021.

As the quotes you get from the different comparison sites can vary significantly, even for the same insurer, and they may have different deals with insurance providers, you should use two or three comparison sites to get the best price for you.

Prices can change frequently so the comparison site that offers you the cheapest quote on one day won’t necessarily be the one offering it the next. The actual price you’ll pay will depend on a range of factors, such as how the property is constructed and whether it’s at risk of flooding.

Buildings insurance FAQs:

How can you get the best buildings insurance quotes?

It’s a good idea to use two or three comparison sites when comparing quotes to get the best price for you. You should make sure you’re comparing like for like, such as looking at the excesses that apply and what’s included, and check that the policy suits your needs before you take it out rather than choosing it based on price alone.

The rewards offered by comparison sites can be tempting but you should still shop around.

Which comparison site works with the most home insurance providers?

At the time of writing in May 2021, Compare the Market and Confused.com work with the most home insurers (offering buildings and contents insurance) at 65 for both, followed by GoCompare at 42 and MoneySuperMarket at 21. More insurers doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper quotes however.

How much is buildings insurance?

Compared to how much it would cost to rebuild your home or repair significant damage, buildings insurance is affordable. In our scenarios above you could pay less than £80 a year and less than £125 in London. You’ll pay more in certain circumstances though, such as your home is in an area that puts it at risk of flooding or subsidence.

What does buildings insurance cover?

Buildings insurance covers the structure of your home and anything in it that you wouldn’t take with you if you moved, such as bathroom fixtures. It will pay out if damage occurs due to things beyond your control, such as a fire or storm damage, but accidental damage caused by you – you put a nail through a pipe for example – is usually only covered if you pay extra for it.

How much buildings insurance do I need?

You should make sure you’re covered for the rebuild cost of your home in case it’s completely destroyed. There are estimators on comparison sites that help you work this out but many policies offer unlimited cover or a very high level such as £1m or £2m so working out the correct rebuild cost wouldn’t be necessary.

Is buildings insurance compulsory?

Buildings insurance is only compulsory if you have a mortgage on your home as the lender would lose its security for the loan if it was damaged or destroyed. When you’re buying a new home, the lender will require you to have buildings insurance on it from exchange of contracts. If you own your home without a mortgage it’s still best to have it.

Is buildings insurance worth it?

The cost of rebuilding your home if it was destroyed would be significant so buildings insurance is definitely worth paying for to give you peace of mind that you would be covered if this happened to you or you had to pay for costly repairs.