Home insurance explained

Understanding what level of home insurance cover you’ll need can be confusing.

David Reeves, from our insurance team, explains how to navigate some common home insurance terms and work out what level of cover might be right for you.

How do I work out what cover I’ll need?

There are two types of home insurance: buildings and contents cover.

Buildings cover refers to any permanent fixtures and fittings like bathrooms and fitted kitchens, as well as the structure of your home including any outbuildings such as garages and sheds.

You’ll need to work out how much it would cost to rebuild your home, which is not the same as the market value of your property. Consider things such as demolition costs, surveyor's fees and the actual cost to rebuild your home.

If you obtained a survey on your property, an estimate of the rebuilding cost may be included in the report, but alternatively you can find many resources online including the ABI/BCIS Residential Rebuilding Costs calculator.

If you own a leasehold property, it’s best to check what your responsibilities are and potentially what buildings cover you may need. If you are a renter/tenant, it’s unlikely that you will need buildings insurance, as this should be the landlord’s responsibility, but it’s always advisable to check your tenancy/rental agreement for details.

Contents means the things you use to furnish your home, such as carpets and furniture, as well as all your personal belongings – essentially, all the things that would fall out if you turned your property upside down. Everyone should consider contents cover to protect their personal belongings, whether you own the property or are renting.

You should think about how much it would cost to replace as new all the things you’ve got in your home – you might be surprised at how much it adds up to! There are many online calculators available to help you get a better view of the value of the things that make your property a home.

How do I cover any items I take away from my home?

Personal items like jewellery, mobile phones and cameras can normally be added to the personal possessions section of your contents quote, which offers cover against accidental loss, damage or theft outside the home.

Levels of cover differ and some policies require you to specify single items worth over a certain amount on the policy.

What do insurers mean when they talk about ‘valuables’?

When insurers refer to ‘valuables’ they mean pictures and other works of art, items of gold, silver or any other precious metal, jewellery, furs and stamp, coin or medal collections.

What is domestic emergency cover?

Domestic emergency cover provides immediate assistance for a number of domestic emergencies. ‘Emergency’ situations could include, for example, the breakdown of your main heating supply, plumbing and drainage problems, loss of domestic power supply, and damage to the roof. This cover may cost extra; however, many insurers provide this as standard.

Covering possessions for family members at university?

Many insurers offer cover for family members’ belongings if they’re kept within temporary accommodation at university. Sometimes this is standard to the policy but can be an additional cost with many.

What are buildings or contents pairs, sets and suites?
This typically gives you the option to upgrade your cover to ensure that if part of a pair, set or suite is damaged, lost or stolen, the insurer will pay the cost of replacing any undamaged items if they cannot be matched. Under the buildings section this would cover your bathroom and kitchen. The contents section will include items such as a three piece suite or dining room furniture.

What’s the difference between standard and accidental damage?

Standard buildings and/or contents cover insures against the main perils such as fire, theft and escape of water.

Accidental damage for buildings could include accidental damage to sanitary fixtures, fixed glass and underground pipes and cables.

Accidental damage for contents could include accidental damage to audio/visual equipment including TVs, stereos and desktop computers.

Many insurers also offer “Extended accidental damage” as an extra under both buildings and contents insurance to cover any damage that you or your family might cause, such as putting a nail in a wall and bursting a pipe, or spilling wine or paint on your carpet.

We provide a range of financial products, including home insurance which is available for serving or retired Police Officers and Staff, Specials and your families.

Why not talk to us today?

Call 0800 032 8922 – we’re open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

PMGI Limited, trading as Police Mutual is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England & Wales No. 1073408. Registered office: Alexandra House, Queen Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS136QS.

Our home insurance is provided by Royal Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

For your security, all telephone calls are recorded and may be monitored. Calls to 0800 numbers are free from UK landlines and mobiles.

Article published on 12 February 2018

David Reeves

About the author

David Reeves is one of the Senior Marketing Managers here at Police Mutual. He is based in the General Insurance office in Liverpool and likes running and walking in his spare time.

Read more of David's articles