In June 2017 the Government’s raised insurance premium tax by 2% to 12%, which means that people in the UK are paying more for home insurance than ever before.

And just because we sell home insurance, we still understand that you don’t want to pay any more for this vital protection for your home than you need to. So we’ve compiled a practical list of “secret” ways you keep the cost of your premium down.

If you don’t have time to read the whole list, the most important tip is this: Only phone your insurance company to notify them of damage or loss if you are definitely covered and intend to make a claim. This might save you money in the future – read number 20 below to find out more.

Choose carefully

1. Don’t just buy insurance from your mortgage provider or bank, even though they may give you the impression that it’s compulsory to purchase their product. This simply isn’t the case – you can buy home insurance from any provider, no matter who you get your mortgage from.

2. Combining your buildings and contents cover in one policy is less expensive than buying two separate policies.

3. Don’t buy additional cover options unless you really want the extra protection they provide. If you have young children or you’re planning to do a lot of DIY and you know you’re clumsy, accidental damage may well be worth it. Equally, if you have a lot of expensive items that you regularly take outside your home, such as an iPad or a Rolex watch, paying a bit extra to specify these items for cover against theft and physical damage would be a good idea too. But if not, deselect it.

4. Calculate the property rebuild cost accurately using the BCIS Rebuild calculator for homes built with brick or stone walls and tile or slate roofs. If your home is made of any other materials, or it was built before 1850, or it’s a listed building you need to ask a chartered surveyor to calculate an accurate rebuild cost for you every few years. If you give too high a rebuild cost when you buy buildings insurance, your premium could be higher than is necessary. (Note: if you under-insure the property, a claim might not be fully paid as your insurance provider is likely reduce the payout in proportion to the amount you were under-insured.)

5. Don’t over-estimate the value of your your belongings. Take the time to calculate the replacement-as-new cost of each item in your home at today’s prices. The average cost of the contents of a typical British home of two adults and two children is roughly £45,000 in 2017. If you over-estimate the value of your contents, you might end up paying too much (although as with your buildings cover, if you under-insure your contents a claim payout might be reduced in proportion to the level you under-insure them for).

6. Pay annually. This is cheaper in the long run than paying monthly, which essentially involves taking out a loan on which you pay interest.

7. Increase the voluntary excess. Before you do this, make sure that you’re clear that doing this means you have to pay more yourself if you make a claim. If you can afford it, put the total excess amount in a savings account so it’s definitely there shoudl the worst happen.

8. Avoid double-insuring your gadgets! If you have phone insurance with your mobile phone provider, or warranty cover for laptops and tablets that covers theft or damage as well, then don’t insure these items on your home insurance policy too! Always try to claim on your gadget insurance insurance policy before your home insurance policy, as this won’t affect the no claims bonus incorporated in your home insurance premium.

9. If you’re renewing your policy with the same provider, don’t insure things you’ve sold or disposed of during the year, especially if the items are high value or high risk such as laptops, mobile phones, bikes or jewellery. Taking them off the policy may reduce the premium.

10. If you have adult children who are living in halls at college or university, insure their belongings under your own contents insurance policy, rather than buying a separate student insurance policy. 

11. Add cover for contents away from the home within your contents insurance rather than buying a separate travel insurance policy for short trips away in the UK.

12. Describe your occupation accurately because what you do can affect your premium as insurers see certain professions as higher risk. If you input the wrong job title, you may pay too much.

Cut the cost in the future by preventing claims now

For the first time in over 10 years, theft crimes increased in the year ending June 2017, an increase of 11% on the previous year (Source: ONS Crime Report). As claiming on your insurance usually reduces your no claims discount when you renew, do what you can to reduce the likelihood of your home being burgled by following these 12 handy tips

13. Do you belong to a neighbourhood watch scheme? If you do, some insurers may give you a discount on your premium. 

14. Make sure that someone is at home overnight to deter night-time thieves. If you work night shifts and it’s not practical for someone else to be at home while you’re at work then leave the bathroom light on while you’re out and use timer switches for lights and a radio in other rooms. The most convincing way to appear as though you’re at home is to buy a seven-day variable light switch timer so that your lights go on and off at different times every day.

15. Fit a burglar alarm to scare off any thieves targeting your home. If do this, it’s worth using a monitored alarm service so that you don’t have to deal with a burglar personally. Having a NSI, NACOSS, SSAIB or BSIA burglar alarm may decrease the premium cost. However, make sire you always set the alarm when you’re out so that you’re covered in the event of a claim. If your alarm system can be set up to “zone” the house into different areas, then all areas not in use overnight should also be alarmed before you go to bed. Don’t forget to change your alarm code regularly too! 

16. Consider installing a gravel driveway and path up to your house as this deters thieves because the crunching noise of the gravel underfoot attracts neighbours’ attenion.

17. Use a home security app to control lighting and heating from your smartphone when you’re out. You can switch lights on and off and give the impression that someone’s at home, which is handy if you’re going to be out during the hours of darkness. 

18. Get the right quality of locks installed on all accessible doors. The locks on the main external doors in the property should conform to British Standard BS3621 to be eligible for a discount. Check the metal lock faceplate on the edge of the door to look for a kitemark and BS3621 printed on the plate. If you find these, then your door lock conforms to the British Standard. 

19. Insulate water pipes on the outside of your building and in your loft to help prevent a frozen burst pipe claim in the cold winter months. 

To claim or not to claim

20. Only report claims that you know you are covered for and that you truly need to claim for, because any reported loss or damage is likely to be logged on your claims record even if you don’t actually progress the claim. All claims data is stored on a centralised database held by the Claims & Underwriting Exchange which is managed by Experian and accessed by insurance providers. This data is used to calculate the risk of something owned by you or your family being damaged, stolen or lost; if you have reported many of these types of events then the premiums will increase. Rather than phoning the insurance company to ask if you’re covered, a better way to assess whether it’s a good idea to claim, is to read the insurance provider’s policy booklet and your own individual policy schedule carefully. From this you will be able to identify whether you can claim for the incident or not.

21. Try not to make multiple claims. The longer you don’t make a claim for, the more likely it is that your premium stay low. Making several claims in a short period of time can have a significant effect on your premium as insurers consider you a higher risk. Some insurers offer a no claims discount which can be up to 50% on premiums after five years without any claims or claimable incidents.

22. If you want to pay monthly, get on the electoral roll, as some insurance providers use this data source when credit checking you for a Direct Debit. If your details can’t be found on the electoral roll, the provider may charge a fee or increase the premium. In England, Scotland and Wales you can register for the electoral roll online. In Northern Ireland you can download and print out a paper form. 

23. Read the Policy schedule and the Policy booklet carefully before you pay to make sure you’re clear about what’s included and what you’re buying. These documents do tend to be long and wordy, so focus on the cover levels, any exclusions, and the excesses payable.

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