Home insurance: Home insurance: add-ons, fees and charges

Block of coloured houses

Comparison sites may have made buying home insurance much quicker but the process is not always simple, with many providers offering a host of add-ons and charging a range of fees for modifying or cancelling your cover. 

But which are the most common add-ons, fees and charges and what should you look out for when you buy?


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 cover 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 when 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
ProviderAPR (monthly payments)Adjustment feeDuplicate documents feeCancellation fee after 14 daysCredit card feeMaximum Switching fee contributionaWhich? fee score
Lloyds Banking Group00000£50100%
Age UK00000£4097%
M&S Bank00000086%
NFU Mutual2.70%0000086%
Nationwide Building Society000£26.500081%
Insure 4 Retirement20.80%00£300£5077%
10 Worst For Fees
Esure/Sheilas' Wheels25.50%£200£55c0£2558%
Post OfficeVariable£0/£20b0£350058%
The AA26.90%£12.50/£15d£0/£15b£20/£40e1.50%£25/£50f57%
Castle Cover24%£25£10£25/£500£2555%
Budget Insurance29.90%0£5£45£1.50055%
Co-operative Insurance18.50%£12.50£12.50Seeg0054%
Bradford & Bingley Home Insurance29.90%£200£350052%
Allianz Insurance26%£150£500050%
Additional Which? Recommended Providers
John Lewis21.10%0000075%


Footnotes: Fees may include premium tax of 6%. This increased to 9.5% on 1 November. a This is a contributionan insurer will pay to help you with cancellation fees if you switch to it in the middle of a policy year b £0 if changes made online c Chargeable in the first year, £35 in subsequent years d Change of address £12.50 e £20 per policy - £40 buildings and contents f £25 per policy - £50 buildings and contents g If you cancel your policy early, you will be refunded a fixed proportion of your unused premium depending on how far into the year your policy is h Only charged for changing address  

We examined the fees and charges of 36 insurers. Each insurer was rated for each of its different fees compared to what others charged in the survey. The Which? Fee Score is the insurer's combined total score as a proportion of the maximum score achievable. The table shows the ten insurers with the highest Fee Score, the ten with the lowest, along with our four Which? Recommended Providers - NFU Mutual, John Lewis and Insure 4 Retirement. Table correct at October 2015.

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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.