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Compare buildings insurance quotes 2024: How to find the right policy for you

Fact-checked by Molly Dyson

How to get the best buildings insurance for your home in 2024

Buildings insurance is a type of home insurance that helps you cover the cost of repairing your home if it’s damaged by a catastrophic incident like a fire or flood. Without it, you would have to find the money to pay for it yourself, leaving you seriously out of pocket or with huge debts. 

The cost of repairing your home could be substantial. You could have to replace everything, from the windows to the electrics, or it might even need to be completely rebuilt. For an average of around £24 a month, you could be covered by one of the best home insurance companies and potentially save yourself hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Buildings insurance explained

This guide will walk you through what buildings insurance does and doesn’t cover, what optional extras you might need, how to save money on your premium, what can affect an insurance quote and how to find the best deal. The quickest and easiest way to get the best price for your situation is to use our comparison tool, powered by MoneySuperMarket. 

You also need to know how to get a policy that suits you if you’re a landlord, so this article looks at landlord buildings insurance too. Plus, we’ve included a step-by-step guide to how to make a claim if the worst happens.

What is buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing the structure of your property if it’s damaged. It would pay out to repair or replace your water pipes if they burst after a spell of very cold weather, for example.

Buildings insurance is different to contents insurance, which just covers your belongings inside your home, although the two can be bought together.

You pay a certain amount each month or year, known as a premium, to your insurer to be covered. Then, in the event that something happens to damage your property, you contact the insurer to make a claim. You need to pay any excess listed in your policy documents, which is the amount of a claim you have to pay yourself. Your insurer pays the remaining cost of making the necessary repairs to your property.

Who needs buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance is for anyone who owns their home on a freehold basis. This includes most homeowners, landlords and holiday home owners. 

If you own your home with a mortgage, you’ll usually be required to have buildings cover by your lender, as this protects its financial stake in your home. This is also true if you’re a landlord or holiday home owner. Bear in mind that you’ll need specific holiday home insurance if you need cover for a home you let for part of the year.

With a mortgage, you’re responsible for looking after the building until the loan is paid back. Paying for essential repairs after an unexpected event can be very expensive without insurance. Fixing a roof after a storm, for example, can cost thousands of pounds. 

It’s still advisable to have buildings insurance even if you’ve paid off your mortgage. Paying a small amount a month for cover is a lot cheaper than paying out of pocket to repair substantial damage.

If you own a flat as a leaseholder, you’re not typically responsible for getting buildings insurance. This is usually the responsibility of the property freeholder, though you might pay for it as part of your service charge.

What buildings insurance covers

brick house with wooden front door and sandbags outside for flooding
Buildings insurance covers your home from fire and flood damage (Adobe)

Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing any damage to the structure of your home and the cost of rebuilding your property from the ground up if necessary. 

It also covers other structures on your property, like garages and sheds, as well as the cost of replacing pipes, drains and cables. When you get a quote, it will outline exactly what’s covered by the policy.

Recent weather events in the UK demonstrate the value of having buildings insurance and what it covers. Storms Babet, Ciaran and Debi in October and November 2023 led to insurers dealing with 36,000 home insurance claims and paying out £352 million to affected policyholders, according to figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI). 

The record-breaking summer heatwave in 2022 saw several insurers reporting a significant rise in subsidence claims. Meanwhile, the cold snap in December 2022 led to providers paying out £804 million in claims for damage caused by burst frozen pipes.

According to the Environment Agency, the average cost of the impact of a flood on your home is around £30,000, and there’s a risk of flooding to around 5.5 million homes and businesses in England alone.

What buildings insurance doesn’t cover

Building insurance doesn’t cover the contents of your property – in other words, anything you would take with you if you moved. This means your personal belongings, from jewellery to your washing machine and sofa, are not covered. To cover these items, you would need to get contents insurance.

Wear and tear also isn’t covered. Damage to fences and gates in a storm isn’t usually covered either. There will also be other exclusions, which will be outlined in your policy documents.

Buildings insurance standard cover vs optional extras

The table below lists a range of events a typical buildings insurance policy will cover as standard, as well as events more likely to be optional extras.

Policies will vary from insurer to insurer, however, so it’s always important to check the specifics of your cover.

Covered as standardOptional extra
FloodingYesNo
Subsidence (caused by the ground under your building sinking)YesNo
FireYesNo
Storms (e.g., wind damage to your roof)YesNo
Burst and frozen pipes and water damageYesNo
Fallen treesYesNo
Vehicle or aircraft collisions (e.g., if a car hits your garden wall)YesNo
Damage caused by theft (e.g., a burglar breaks your window to enter your home)YesNo
Legal expenses cover (for legal advice and the cost of defending yourself in neighbour disputes, or claiming compensation after an accident that wasn’t your fault, for example)NoYes
Accidental damage (e.g., drilling through electric wiring)NoYes
Home emergency assistance (e.g., if you need an emergency plumber)NoYes

How to cut your buildings insurance quote

The cost of buildings insurance can be affected by a number of factors and has gone up over the past year or so.

The average cost of home insurance (combined buildings and contents cover) was £341 a year in 2023, according to the ABI – up by 13 per cent compared to the previous year. The average price for separate buildings cover (£262) and contents cover (£124) were also up in 2023 compared to 2022 – by 15 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively.

The cost of bad weather and the rising costs of building materials and labour are both factors that increased the cost of home insurance in 2023, the ABI said.

New rules on the pricing of home insurance came into force on 1 January 2022 to ensure the price paid by renewing customers is no greater than the price charged to a new customer buying the same policy. Partly as a result of these reforms, in 2022 the average price to renew a combined buildings and contents insurance policy fell by 10 per cent to £316.

There are ways to keep your buildings insurance cost down when getting quotes. Just make sure you’re buying a policy that suits your needs. Follow these tips to get the best deal:

  • Use price comparison sites: using comparison sites is a surefire way to get the best quote, as they let you compare hundreds of policies in a few clicks. It’s a good idea to use at least two, as different comparison sites may have different deals with insurers
  • Install smoke alarms: insurers will usually want to know if you have smoke alarms at your property. You should have them for safety reasons, but installing these devices could also save you money on your premiums
  • Pay a higher excess: the excess on an insurance policy is the amount of any claim you agree to pay yourself. The higher the excess, the lower your premiums. This is because the insurer is less likely to have to pay out on smaller claims.
  • Pay your premium yearly: when you get a quote, you’re usually offered the option to pay your premiums monthly or annually. Insurers will typically charge you less overall if you pay upfront in one go, as if you pay monthly you’re effectively borrowing the cost of the annual premium from the insurer then paying it back with interest
  • Look after your no-claims bonus: a no-claims bonus is the discount you get on your policy by not having made any claims for a number of years. It can be up to 30 per cent after one year of no claims, and as much as 60 per cent after around five years of no claims, but discounts vary between insurers

Other factors that could affect the cost of your premium are:

How likely you are to claim
Your premiums could be higher if insurers think you’re more likely to make a claim. Reasons that could increase your likelihood of making a claim are things like living near a river (due to the increased flood risk), or if homes in your area have a history of subsidence.

Households that live near water were quoted, on average, £12 more on home insurance in 2022 than those that live further away from water, according to research by Compare the Market published in March 2023.

Previous claims history
Previous claims are likely to have the effect of increasing your premiums in subsequent years. This is because insurers think you’re at a higher risk of claiming again in the future.

Common exclusions on buildings insurance policies

Buildings insurance won’t cover everything. Here are some of the most common exclusions:

  • General wear and tear: general wear and tear to your buildings is normal over time, such as wooden window frames rotting. In the event that damage you claim for on your policy has happened to a part of your property that shows signs of general wear and tear, your insurer may reduce the amount it will pay out for that part of the claim
  • Damage caused by poor upkeep: most insurers require you to keep your property in good order as a condition of providing cover. If you fail to carry out necessary regular maintenance, your insurer may not pay out in the event of damage caused by your negligence. This could be, for example, failing to properly insulate your pipes, so they freeze in winter and burst
  • Loss or damage while your home is empty: many policies won’t provide cover, or may restrict cover, in cases where the property is unoccupied for a long time – usually either 30 or 60 days
  • Damage by pests: you may not be able to claim for damage done by insects, vermin and other pests, or the cost of getting them removed. However, some insurers do offer pest cover as an optional extra
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When buying insurance, you should get enough cover to pay for the total cost of completely rebuilding your home. This is called the sum insured. The rebuild cost, which is different to the market value, includes the price of labour and materials. This will be the main factor in determining how much cover you need. Remember to include the cost of rebuilding any external structures, such as garages and sheds, too.

 

You could buy a policy that offers unlimited cover. However, this may cost you more than a policy with a fixed amount of cover.

 

You should check the sum you’re insured for every year when you renew your policy in case building and labour costs have changed and pushed up (or even reduced) your rebuild cost.

 

Still not sure what you need? It is easy to compare buildings insurance from different providers side by side using the comparison tool at the top of this page, where you can tweak your requirements to see how it affects the prices you’re quoted.

Do you need extra insurance to cover building work?

Buildings insurance extra cover for building works
Taking out extra cover during building work, such as building a loft extension, ensures you’re covered for any damage caused by works (Adobe)

You may want to take out extra insurance if you are planning large-scale renovations on your home. 

Damage caused by major building work – for example converting the loft or building a conservatory – is not usually covered by standard home insurance policies. This is because extensive remodelling and building work increase the likelihood of damage to your property and you making a claim. 

Taking out separate renovation insurance could be a good idea in this situation. Some insurers may also be able to offer additional cover on your existing policy. 

You should always tell your home insurer about any major building work you’re planning to have done in case it affects your coverage and check that the company doing it has public liability insurance in case your property is damaged as a result of its work.

What factors affect your home’s rebuild value?

Home improvements can affect the rebuild value of your home. For example, if you added a conservatory, you would need to account for the cost of rebuilding that from scratch too. Likewise, if you converted your loft into a bedroom.

Special features on a property can also affect its rebuild value. For example, having a thatched roof.

Listed buildings are buildings of special architectural or historic interest considered to be of national importance and so worth protecting. They are more difficult to value for rebuilding purposes, but are likely to be much more costly to rebuild and therefore require special consideration for valuations. 

To find out if your home is a listed building, contact Historic England, Historic Environment Scotland, Cadw for properties in Wales, or the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland, depending on where you live.

If you have a historic or unusual property, you may need non-standard home insurance.

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As a general rule, your home’s rebuild cost is typically lower than its sale price or market value. Specially designed and historic homes may cost more than their market value to rebuild.

 

If you bought your home recently, check your mortgage valuation or deeds, as the rebuild cost will be stated.

 

Comparison sites often give you an estimate of how much the rebuild cost might be when you’re gathering quotes based on the details you’ve entered about the type of property you have and where you live. You can also look it up using the Building Cost Information Service’s rebuilding cost calculator on the ABI website.

 

Alternatively, you could hire a chartered surveyor, who will visit your home and make a formal assessment of its value and how much it would cost to rebuild. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has a list of qualified chartered surveyors. It’s a particularly good idea to use a chartered surveyor if yours is a non-standard home or listed building. Bear in mind that you’ll have to pay a fee for the service.

The buildings insurance claims process

To make a claim on your buildings insurance, follow this step-by-step process:

  1. Check your insurance policy documents to make sure what you want to claim for is covered
  2. Write a detailed list of the damage you want to make a claim for
  3. Take photos of the damage as soon as possible
  4. Don’t throw away the damaged items – your insurer may want to see them as proof
  5. If the damage was caused by criminal activity, report it to the police as soon as possible and get a crime number
  6. Make any urgent repairs needed to stop any more damage occurring, such as turning the water off to stop leaks and securing windows that have been forced open or smashed
  7. Call your insurer – some companies give you up to 180 days to make a claim, but the sooner you contact your insurer the better, as you’ll remember more about what has just happened to cause the damage and may have better evidence. It will also be able to start looking at your claim sooner
  8. Collect together any receipts you have for damaged parts of the property you’re claiming for and send copies to your insurer
  9. Wait for your insurer to decide if it will pay the claim and how much you’ll get – don’t start any repair work until this is confirmed. You can carry out urgent repairs and get reimbursed for these as part of your claim, however

Buildings insurance for landlords

Buildings insurance for landlords isn’t a legal requirement, but most mortgage lenders require that you have it as a condition of lending to you. Landlord insurance covers the structure of the building against damage from the same events as standard policies. 

As with any home insurance policy, if you’re a landlord, add-ons can increase your coverage. For example, home emergency insurance will cover emergencies such as the boiler breaking down and pest infestations.

Landlord insurance differs in that it can also cover extra risks you face as a landlord. For example, paying for accommodation for a tenant if an event like a fire or flood means they can’t stay in your property.

If you’re the freeholder of the property you’re letting out, you’ll need to have insurance to cover the structure of the building in the same way as if you were living there. 

If you’re the leaseholder, which is more likely if you own a flat, the freeholder of the property is responsible for taking out insurance to cover damage to the structure, which you may pay for as part of your service charge.

Landlord insurance might cost more than a standard policy because insurers take the view that the chance of damage to the building is increased.

Some insurers will cover multiple properties under one policy, which can save you money and make the admin of owning a property portfolio easier. You could receive a discount on your premium per property for every one you add to the policy. Compare buildings insurance quotes online to find the best deals.

Whether you’re looking for buildings insurance for your home or a property you let to tenants, you’ll be able to find the best policy for your needs by following our tips and using comparison sites.

Buildings insurance FAQs

Buildings insurance may make up part of your home insurance policy if you own your home, but the umbrella term of home insurance might also include cover for the contents of your home. You can buy buildings and contents cover separately or as part of a combined home insurance policy.

Buildings insurance will typically cover any damage caused by storms, heavy rain or falling trees, but this could vary from provider to provider, so it’s important to check your policy for any specific conditions around roof cover. Be aware that any damage caused by normal wear and tear or general lack of maintenance will usually not be covered.

Since most mortgage lenders will require you to take out buildings insurance as part of your agreement, it’s a good idea to arrange cover as soon as you have an exchange date. Most home insurance providers will allow you to choose your policy start date in order to make sure you’re covered from that day. Comparing quotes ahead of your exchange also gives you time to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Many mortgage providers will offer buildings insurance, either as a standalone policy or included as part of your mortgage deal. You don’t have to buy the policy on offer from your lender – in fact, it’s a good idea to shop around before deciding, as you might find a cheaper premium if you arrange buildings cover through another provider.

Laura Miller round image

Laura Miller

Money Writer

Laura Miller is a freelance journalist, editor, and producer. She has a wealth of consumer finance experience, having written about money matters and business for over 15 years.

During her tenure as a freelance writer, she has worked for ITN, Wired, and The Sunday Times, as well as financial institutions such as Aegon, the Chartered Insurance Institute, and Pension Bee, where she’s presenter of the Pension Confident Podcast.

Laura has previously held roles at The Times, where she was the Acting Editor of Times Money Mentor, The Telegraph as a senior finance reporter and was the co-host of the It’s Your Money Podcast, which was renowned for making complex finance issues accessible, and The Financial Times, where she worked as a News Editor. Laura has also worked at CNN, Politics.co.uk, and as a producer at Radio 5 Live.