5 Pro Tips for Buying House Insurance 

According to the ABI (Association of British Insurers), the average combined home building and contents insurance policy costs £307. Whether you’re looking to save money on your home insurance premium or your priority is finding high quality cover, here are 5 pro tips to help you get the home insurance you need at the right price.

 

  1. Compare Prices

With the abundance of comparison sites in the UK, it’s easy enough to compare prices for your home or contents insurance before you buy. 

This holds for your renewal as well. Some companies increase the premium at renewal, even if you haven’t claimed. Be sure to check your renewal price and compare it to last year. If your premium has gone up, check the market to see how much other home insurance companies will charge to insure your building and/or contents.

If you find a lower price elsewhere for similar home insurance cover, ring up your provider and ask if they can lower your renewal price to match it. They might say no, but it never hurts to ask.

  1. Watch the Excess

On comparison sites in particular you might find offers with an unusually high excess. It’s often how the companies offering the lowest prices are able to do so. Remember that you need to contribute this amount towards any claims, so you’ll need to have easy access to the value of the excess in the event of a claim; it shouldn’t be outside of your budget.

  1. Read Reviews

Reading online reviews can be a great way to get a handle on whether or not a given insurance company is any good. While comparison sites can help you spot a good price, they aren’t necessarily the best at helping consumers identify the right policy for them. This is where reviews come in. 

There are two types of reviews: customer reviews and editorial reviews. Customer reviews are written by existing policyholders and reflect their personal experiences with customer service. Editorial reviews are written by experts who can assess how a plan compares based on factors like features and value for money.

Customer reviews are certainly useful, but they can either be skewed unrealistically to the positive or negative. For example, companies that use Trustpilot to initiate a review request just after the buying process tend to have very positive reviews. Insurance companies are quite good at selling, after all, so the buying process is typically a smooth one and yields positive reviews. This has no bearing on how the claims process will go.

On the other hand, companies that don’t do this tend to have quite negative online reviews dominated by complaints from disgruntled customers who want to vent. 

Ideally you can read a mix of editorial content and curated customer reviews. Companies like personal finance site NimbleFins write reviews incorporating both editorial commentary, comparisons to alternatives in the UK market and a summary of customer reviews. This can save you a lot of time as they’ve scoured the hundreds or thousands of online customer reviews to look for potential issues. 

For example, they might point out that most of one company’s reviews are related to signing up, so readers should be sceptical of a high review score. Or for a company with overwhelmingly negative reviews they’ll dig deeper. For instance, if most complaints are from customers unhappy with having to pay a cancellation cost, they’ll compare the company’s cancellation charges against the UK home insurance market standard.

  1. Look Over the Policy Wording

Do you have underfloor heating? If so, be a stickler for details because this isn’t covered on a lot of policies. 

Whether you’re buying from a comparison site or direct from an insurance provider, read the Policy Wording and Terms before you commit to get a handle on what’s included in your cover. You may need to pay extra for features like Home Emergency (according to the Money Advice Service, barely one in five home insurance policies includes home emergency cover as standard, and more than half don’t even offer it as an optional add on feature). 

The Policy Wording can usually be downloaded from a company’s website. If you’re using a broker, you may need to ask them to email you a copy.

In the Policy Wording you can learn about important details like exclusions and fees. Cancellation fees and charges in particular can vary a lot between companies and can add up, so you can save yourself some money by understanding how the cancellation policy is structured before you buy. 

For example, some companies charge the premium for time covered as a pro rata amount (an equal amount per day) while other companies charge on a scale (which means you pay more than a pro rata amount per day and therefore might not get any refund if you cancel 8 or 9 months into the policy). 

  1. How Can You Get in Touch? 

There are more and more “online” insurance companies in the market these days. While these companies typically offer cheaper prices and have slick interfaces and a smooth buying process, what happens when you have a question or a problem–is there a phone number to call so you can talk to a human?

If you want easy access to customer service when you need it, make sure the company has a customer service phone line and perhaps an online web chat feature. Also check their opening hours because some smaller companies are closed at the weekend, which can be problematic for people who work a regular 9 to 5 job.  

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