Home insurance: Finding cheap home insurance

Detached house

Home insurance can help put you back on your feet following flood, fire or theft but you don’t have to break the bank to get quality cover.

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. 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, 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, though, 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 on 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 you see 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, if you commission a survey.

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 brand 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 more expensive. Paying monthly is essentially taking a loan, usually at high interest, from your provider. APR can vary 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.

7. Avoid auto-renewal

Insurers often save their best offers for new customers and push up premiums for their loyal policyholders. Rather than just allowing your policy to slide into a second 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.

Find out more: Renewing your home insurance - what to look out for at the end of your policy

8. Talk to the specialists

Finding cover can become much more difficult if you live in a flat share, 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 you 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 it 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 is 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.

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Which? Limited (registered in England and Wales number 00677665) is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited (registered in England and Wales number 07239342). Which? Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Registered office: 2 Marylebone Road, London NW1 4DF.