Home insurance: add-ons, fees and charges explained

Home insurance

Home insurance: add-ons, fees and charges explained

By Simon Miller

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

Home insurance: add-ons, fees and charges explained

Find out what type of add-ons home insurers commonly offer, and which insurers are the best and worst when it comes to the fees they charge for changing your policy.

 Here are some of the most common add-ons, fees and charges, along with tips on what you should  keep an eye out for when you're buying home insurance.

Add-ons

Home emergency cover

As its name suggests, home emergency cover is designed to cover a number of household crises, such as burst water pipes or a broken boiler.

The cover, which starts at around £30 a year, can also include replacement locks, unwanted pests and electrical faults, but policies can differ greatly, so always check your terms and conditions carefully.

Beware if you are buying home emergency cover mainly for boiler cover. Claims can be limited to relatively low amounts – sometimes just £500, which won’t be enough to cover you if you need a new boiler.

Find out more: Finding the best boiler cover

Accidental damage

Standard contents insurance policies include some cover for accidental damage – eg to stereo equipment – but don't cover accidental damage to goods or furnishings. For an additional £20 to £100, you can extend cover to include these items, which can be useful if you have young children.

Personal possessions

You can use your home insurance to cover your portable items, such as your handbag, mobile phone or tablet, while you are outside of the home and overseas, under a personal possessions add-on (sometimes called an all-risks extension). However, restrictions apply, so check with the insurer before you buy.

Legal expenses

This add-on covers the cost of legal proceedings if you need to take action or defend a claim. It typically covers the legal expenses incurred in most personal injury, consumer, property and employment disputes, as well as any award of the other party's legal costs. A few insurers include this cover as standard when you buy home insurance, but most charge an additional fee.

Downloads insurance

If your phone, laptop or tablet is stolen from your house, downloads insurance will pay out for any lost digital content. Downloads cover will include music, mobile phone ringtones, television programmes, films, games, software and computer programs stored on an MP3 player, desktop PC, laptop, mobile phone or home entertainment system.

Find out more: Best and worst home insurance – the big providers rated

Fees and charges

Many insurers charge extra if you want to make common changes to your home insurance policy. We've rounded up the fees to reveal the best and worst buildings and content insurance providers. Our charges score shows how well the provider has performed in our Which? Recommended Providers analysis on the basis of how expensive its fees are.
 

10 Best For Fees
Provider APR (monthly payments) Adjustment fee Duplicate documents fee Cancellation fee after 14 days Credit card fee Maximum Switching fee contributiona Which? fee score
Barclays 0 0 0 0 0 Ultd 100%
Lloyds Banking Group 0 0 0 0 0 £60 100%
Age UK 0 0 0 0 0 £40 97%
NatWest/RBS 0 0 0 £26.50 0 £50 93%
Santander 0 0 0 £27.38 0 Ultd 93%
NFU Mutual 2.70% 0 0 0 0 0 79%
HSBC 0 £10 0 0 0 0 77%
M&S Bank 0 0 0 £25 0 0 77%
Nationwide Building Society 0 0 0 £26.50 0 0 77%
Hiscox 13.7% 0 0 0 N/A 0 74%
10 Worst For Fees
The Co-operative Bank 18.5% £12.50 £12.50 0 0 N/A 49%
Esure/Sheilas' Wheels 25.5% £20 0 £55 0 £25 48%
Sainsbury's Bank 22% £16.43 0 £22 N/A N/A 48%
Bradford & Bingley Home Insurance 29.8% £20 0 £35 N/A N/A 41%
The AA 26.90% £12.50/£15b £0/£15c £20/£40d 1.50% £25/£50e 41%
Post Office Variable £20 0/£20c £35 0 N/A 38%
Admiral 21.9% £19.50 £7.50 £50 £5.95 £25 34%
Budget Insurance 29.8% £25 £5 £45 £1.50 N/A 31%
Zurich 23.50% £15 £15 £30 0 N/A 31%
Endsleigh 44% £30 £30 £20 1.95% N/A 26%
Additional Which? Recommended Providers
Direct Line Variable 0 0 £36 N/A £25 65%
John Lewis 21.10% 0 0 0 0 N/A 65%
RIAS 24% £25 0 £35 N/A £75 58%

 

Footnotes: a This is a contribution the insurer will pay to help you with cancellation fees if you switch to it in the middle of a policy year b Change of address £12.50 c £0 if changes made online d £20 per policy – £40 buildings and contents e £25 per policy – £50 buildings and contents

We examined the fees and charges of 42 insurers. Each insurer was rated for each of its different fees compared with what others in the survey charged. The Which? Fee Score is the insurer's combined total score as a proportion of the maximum score achievable. The table shows the 10 insurers with the highest Fee Scores and the ten with the lowest, along with our Which? Recommended Providers – John Lewis Mutual, RIAS, NFU Mutual John, Direct Line and Nationwide. Table correct at June 2016.