How to switch home insurance

A step-by-step guide to changing home insurance provider
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How to switch home insurance

According to a recent survey by ThisIsMoney.co.uk, 70% of people have been with the same home insurer for more than a year. The reasons for this vary, however many people assume it's too complicated to change. But in fact, switching home insurance providers can be surprisingly easy.

Changing your home insurance provider can bring several benefits; you could make substantial savings; and it also gives you a perfect opportunity to ensure you have the right level and type of insurance cover for your property and belongings.

A couple of words of warning though! First, if you cancel a policy mid-term there may be a cancellation fee to pay. And second, although one aim of switching can be to save money, it's important to make sure you have the right level of cover and this may not always be the cheapest.

Step 1. Re-assess the cover you need

Buildings insurance

Calculate the current rebuild cost of your property i.e. if the whole building needed to be demolished and replaced with a same size, similar style home. If your previous rebuild cost valuation is more than five years old it will probably be out of date.

If your home was built after 1850 and is of 'standard construction' i.e. brick or stone walls with a tile or slate roof, then you can use the BCIS Rebuild Calculator

If, however, your home is a period property or of non-standard construction you need to ask a chartered surveyor to assess the rebuild cost for you.

Contents insurance

Start by listing all the items in each room and research online, or ask a specialist in the case of antiques or rare items, to find a current value for each item.

Ensure you specifically make a note of any high risk items valued over £1,500 each as these will need to be individually listed to be fully insured in the case of most insurers.

TIP: Don't forget to include any new items purchased to be given as gifts, or new items received at birthdays, Christmas, engagement, wedding etc.

Add up the value of all the items to find out your 'contents sum insured' value needed.

Additional cover

Decide whether you need any additional cover:

  • Accidental damage –  Get protection against damage or loss caused by unintentional and unpredictable mistakes.
  • Cover away from the home – If there are any items you would like to be insured whilst in your possession out and about, UK and abroad, these will need to be specified.
  • Full legal expenses cover to help you if you need to get legal advice during the year.
  • Full home emergency cover to assist in the case of any plumbing, roofing, electrical emergencies in the house.

TIP: If you have a grown-up child living away from home in student accomodation, you can opt to have their belongings covered by your contents insurance. Be sure to list any laptops, tablets and mobile phones separately and with 'away from home' cover.

Other changes

Make sure you remember and include in the quote details any changes to your circumstances, such as:

  • Changed name (marriage, divorce), changed occupation, changed address, changed number of family members living with you in the home etc.
  • Taken in a lodger, a foster child or anyone else not part of your immediate family.
  • Set up a home business, be it selling goods on eBay or etsy.com or selling homemade jams at local markets.
  • Recently had an extension built.
  • New kitchen or bathroom fitted.
  • Someone in the family has had a criminal conviction, that is still unspent – this even includes fines imposed by a local authority and police cautions.
  • You have made an insurance claim, whether it was paid or not.
  • Flood defences have been installed locally.
  • Your home has become 'listed' or named as part of a conservation area.
  • You're planning or have completed major structural renovations.

Step 2. Use comparison websites

There are four popular comparison websites:

Choose your favourite comparison website and enter all your building, contents and personal details into the quote form.

NOTE: If there are two or more adult 'owners' either of property or belongings in the home each individual should be listed as a policyholder. This is particularly important to note on your quote form details if the property is mortgaged in more than one name.

A list of all quotes available for your situation will be shown. Click through to a few of the insurer's websites and complete the details to see a final price.

Don't forget that not all insurance companies are listed on comparison websites. You may need to go directly to their websites to get a quote.

Step 3. Check out the insurer

The important things to look for include:

Online reputation

Does the insurer have good customer reviews? Start by searching for the company name in ReviewCentre.com, TrustPilot.com or Reviews.co.uk

Policy underwriters

Which company underwrites the policy? This should be displayed clearly on the insurers website. Check if the insurer is listed on a Top UK Insurers list.

Read the small print

Check out the insurer's policy documents, does the policy include what you need. Check exclusions, limits, compulsory excesses etc.

Payment options

Can you choose between paying 100% up-front or paying monthly? If monthly payments are your preference, check the interest charged.

Documents

Is the documentation stored online for you to login and view any time? In many cases, this is the most convenient way of storing your important documents, especially in the case of a fire or flood at home.

Step 4. Sign up

You're done!

If your property is mortgaged you may need to tell the mortgage provider who the new buildings insurance provider is and provide them with the policy number and new cover limits.

TIP: It's a wise idea to make a note of your policy number, the telephone number to call in case of needing to make a claim and the telephone number to call in the case of a Home Emergency (if you opted to take that option from your new insurer).

Store these details on your mobile phone and in paper format. Ideally, you should also store any passwords related to your policy in a secure password application, for example PasswordSafe for Windows.


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