How to find cheap home insurance
By Simon Miller
How to find cheap home insuranceFollow our 10 tips to find quality home insurance for a decent price.
Read our 10 top tips below to find the right cover at the right price.
1. Beef up your security
The less of a risk you are to an insurer, the cheaper your cover will be. Therefore, before you even start looking for cover, consider improving your home security.
Most insurers have a minimum level of security before they accept you as a customer, such as deadlocks on external doors and locks on accessible windows, but adding to this will make you a more attractive, and therefore cheaper, proposition.
Installing a burglar alarm could get you a discount from some insurers, and using a five-lever mortise deadlock (one that conforms to British Standard 3621) on your doors will also help you save money in the long run.
2. Use comparison sites and check our recommended providers
Once you are ready to buy, price comparison sites are a good place to start as they allow you to get a large number of home insurance quotes quickly. Remember, though, that not every provider appears on comparison sites – check Direct Line, Aviva and Zurich as well to see if they are affordable.
The sites are not always 100% reliable, either, so make sure you double-check the policy you're interested in has everything you need when you click through to the website of the provider.
You should also take a look at the Which? Recommended Providers. We review more than 30 of the biggest insurers on the market for the quality of their policies and customer service.
Find out more: Which? Recommended Providers – the biggest insurers on the market rated
3. Only get the cover you need
While everyone should seriously consider contents insurance, buildings cover is only for freeholders. If you rent, you’ll only need contents, but if you own your home, you should consider both.
Combined cover is usually cheaper, but make sure your provider does not have separate buildings and contents excesses. A claim affecting both parts of your policy, such as a fire or flood, might see you having your excess deducted twice.
4. Do your valuation calculations
Many policyholders overpay for their home insurance by incorrectly calculating the value of their buildings and contents. When setting the value of the building itself, you need to give the rebuild value (the cost of rebuilding the property from scratch) and not the, higher, market value (what it would cost to buy the property if it was for sale). To get an idea of the rebuild value of your building, try using the Association of British Insurers’ calculator or a commissioned survey's valuation.
Meanwhile, be careful not to underinsure your contents. Failing to insure the true value of all your contents will leave you out of pocket if you need to make a claim. Consider all the items that you have and what it might cost to replace them with new equivalent goods.
5. Pay annually (if you can afford it)
Once it is time to buy your cover, you’ll be given the option of paying annually or monthly.
While instalments may seem like a good way to spread the cost, it usually ends up being more expensive. Paying monthly is essentially taking a loan, usually at high interest, from your provider. APR varies, but it can be as high as 40%.
Always check pay-monthly fees and compare the cost against annual cover. It's not always clear on comparison sites what APR you'd pay, so check with the insurer directly before accepting a quote.
6. Set the correct excess
If you're willing to pay more on your excess – the amount you have to pay in the event of a claim – your insurer will reward you with lower premiums. However, make sure to select your excess carefully.
Setting the bar too high, especially if starts getting too close to your claims limit, might make claiming on your car insurance either pointless or too expensive.
Insurers often save their best offers for new customers and push up premiums for their loyal policyholders. Rather than just allowing your policy to roll over into another year, shop around to see if you can cut your costs. Even if you want to stay with your current provider, you can use this as haggling leverage.
In November 2016, we asked more than 4,000 Which? members whether they'd haggled over the cost of their home insurance in the past year. Around one in three of them had given it a go - and 77% of them were offered a better deal or some sort of incentive to stay by their insurer.
You can boost your chances of being offered an improved deal by following our tried-and-tested haggling script below.'I would like to find out why my renewal price has increased'
Wait for the call handler's response. It's likely they'll try to justify the price increase.'I have shopped around on the internet, and found much better deals from your competitors than you are currently offering.'
The call handler may ask for examples of cheaper quotes you've found. If they don't offer to beat this quote, you should push harder.'What's the lowest rate you can quote me to keep me as a customer? If it's not better than this [cheaper quote], I'll go elsewhere.'
At this point, you should be offered sort of incentive to stay. It's up to you whether to accept or switch to a cheaper provider.
Find out more: haggling – see our top 10 tips for haggling successfully
8. Talk to the specialists
Finding cover can become much more difficult if you live in a houseshare, if you own a listed building or if your house has a thatched roof. However, there are many specialists you can try if you cannot find the appropriate cover using comparison sites. Endsleigh offers cover for sharers, while Hiscox and NFU Mutual should be able to help if you have a thatched roof or live in a listed building.
9. Try a broker
If you’re still having trouble finding suitable home cover, use the British Insurance Brokers' Association's 'find a broker' service. Call on 0370 950 1790 or check biba.org.uk for more. You can also contact the Which? Money Helpline for advice on finding cover.
10. Check your terms and conditions carefully
Once you’ve picked your policy, examine documents carefully to make sure that it's right for you. Make sure you have all the cover you need, that your excesses are affordable, and that there are no add-ons or extras included that you haven’t asked for.