Buildings and contents insurance

For the same reason we insure our cars, we also need to protect our homes and belongings from unforeseen events such as fires, floods and theft. Home insurance is there to protect us from these events and is split into two types: buildings and contents insurance.

The stats

The vast majority of UK homeowners have insurance in place. In 2013, a total 20.4m of the 26.7m households in the country had contents insurance, and 17m had buildings insurance, data from the Association of British Insurers' (ABI's) UK Insurance & Long Term Savings: Key Facts report shows.

In 2015, the same report explains insurers paid out an average of £12.9m per day in property claims, of which £8.2m was domestic and £4.7m commercial. During that period, the four top reasons for claims were:

Weather (25%)

Met Office data confirmed December 2015 was the wettest month on record, and so it's little surprise the weather accounted for a quarter of all home insurance claims. With extreme downpours and gale-force winds storms Eva and Desmond tore through the UK, damaging thousands of homes in their wake.

Escape of water (21%)

The ABI says its members pay out approximately £2.5m each day to their customers in claims for escape of water, which is largely caused by pipes bursting in freezing temperatures. Escape of water can lead to flooding and in severe cases, can bring down ceilings.

Fire (13%)

Fire's something all homeowners hope they'll never have to deal with. Yet, fires – in particular accidental ones – aren't as uncommon as you might think. The Fire Statistics Monitor from the Department for Communities and Local Government shows there were 28,000 accidental dwelling fires in 2014-15, with 163 fatalities.

Theft (13%)

Though levels have dropped in recent years, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there were around 750,000 incidents of domestic burglary in the year ending June 2015. This means 3 in every 100 households fell victim to the crime.

Home insurance

The above statistics show just how important it is to protect your home and belongings. Home insurance will relieve the financial burden associated with any unforeseen events, helping you to recover from them as quickly as possible.

Here's a brief rundown of the two types of insurance you can choose for your home:

Buildings insurance

Building insurance provides cover for the structure (i.e. the bricks and mortar) of your home. Your provider will pay out for the cost of repairs or rebuilding in the event your home's damaged or destroyed by things such as fire, flooding and storms.

Buildings insurance also provides protection for permanent structures within your home, such as your kitchen and bathrooms, as well as any outbuildings, including sheds and garages.

If you own your home, your mortgage provider may have insisted you get buildings insurance as part of the agreement, but you can choose to extend cover by taking out contents insurance. If you own your home outright, it's still important to arrange buildings insurance.

If you live in rented accommodation, buildings insurance is usually your landlord's responsibility, but as a tenant you may wish to take out additional cover for your personal belongings.

When applying for buildings insurance, you need to cover your home for its rebuild value and not its market value if you were to sell it. This way you can be sure you're getting the right level of cover for the right price.

Contents insurance

Contents insurance covers all the items within your home that aren't part of the building's structure, from gadgets and furniture to clothes and jewellery. Your insurer will pay out for loss or damage of contents caused by things such as fire, flooding and theft.

When calculating what level of contents insurance you need, you must spend time adding up the value of your belongings, they'll be worth more than you think. Note down each item in your house and an estimated price.

Combined buildings and contents insurance

Did you know it's possible to combine buildings and contents insurance? Many homeowners opt for combined insurance as it's easier managing one policy than two. The other benefit is it could save you money. If you take out combined buildings and contents insurance with Hastings Direct, for instance, you could save up to 20%.

All information is correct at time of publication. Hastings Direct cannot be held responsible for any misinformation displayed.

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