Cheap Home Insurance

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Home insurance costs have continued to rise – so check out our key tricks to slash the price, including never auto-renewing and how hitting the sweet spot can bag the cheapest policy.

This is a full step-by-step guide taking you through the cover you need and how to get the best possible deal.

In this guide

What is home insurance?

There are three main house insurance (or flat insurance) policies: buildings insurance, contents insurance and combined building and contents cover. Buildings insurance cover protects the structure, the fixtures and fittings in your home; while contents insurance covers your belongings.

Combined buildings and contents cover is only suitable for people who own the freehold of their homes. If you rent or own the lease only, buildings cover should be handled by your freeholder or managing agent. Contents insurance, however, is your responsibility and should be considered by everyone. See our Tenants' Contents Insurance guide for more.

What is covered?

  • The contents part of your insurance protects you against damage and theft to possessions in your home, garage and shed. The buildings part protects the structure of your home and permanent fixtures and fittings, such as doors and sanitary equipment (baths, basins, toilets and showers). It can differ from policy to policy, but home insurance will usually cover damage from storms, flooding, earthquakes, fire, lightning, explosions, theft, riots and vandalism. It also covers damage from falling trees, motor vehicles and escaping water (such as a burst pipe). Your cover should also protect you against subsidence (a shifting of the ground, which can cause your house to sink).

    If you need both building and contents insurance, buying combined insurance can be cheaper, and limit any disputes amongst insurers, for example, if you need make a claim affecting both the structure of your home and its contents, such as a flood.

    Should you decide to buy two separate policies and you need to claim, there may be arguments between your two providers over who should cover what. It is rare but it is possible.

    Most policies will also cover the cost of a hotel or B&B if you can't stay in your home following a fire or a flood, replacement keys and locks if they are damaged or your keys go missing, spoiled food if your freezer breaks down and the replacement of cash stolen from your home. There are limits on how much you can claim for, so if you're concerned about fancy frozen goods or you have cash hidden in your mattress, check your policy carefully.

    Both contents and buildings policies give you legal liability protection as the occupier and owner, of the home. This means that as part of the contents policy, the insurer will cover you and your legal costs if a visitor to your home is seriously injured and it's deemed to be your fault. A buildings policy will do the same if the structure injures a passer-by or visitor, or damages a neighbour's property.

  • Home insurance won't insure you against acts of terrorism. It also doesn't cover damage due to wear and tear. Your policy may also be invalid if your house is unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days during the year (see the 'Leaving the house unoccupied' dropdown below for more). There's also usually only limited cover for accidental damage (see 'Accidents' dropdown below). Check the small print carefully before you buy.

    Not being in your home can have consequences for your cover. If you sub-let your home, you won't be able to claim if you are burgled and there's no sign of forced entry. Or if you're away for a long time and a pipe bursts, your insurer may not pay out.

    Insurers won't protect everything in your home just because you've bought cover – look out for situations where you'll need to make special arrangements. If you've a stash of high value items, there may be a limit on the insurance.

    If you run a business from home, then that usually won't qualify for liability protection, while business-related contents may not be covered.

  • Most people have probably accidentally smashed a window, or broken a sink or other fixtures or fittings. Most standard policies usually cover you for limited accidental damage, such as a broken window.

    Some contents will also be covered for accidental damage. Electrical goods may be insured for instance, but if you spill paint on your carpet, it's unlikely to be covered.

    Many insurers offer extra cover for an additional cost. If you're particularly clumsy, you should give it some thought. Read your terms and conditions carefully to see what you are and aren't covered for as standard.

  • Most policies don't cover contents outside the home as standard, but you can extend them so they do by buying what's called an 'all risks' or 'personal possessions' add-on to your contents policy.

    It'll cost a little bit more but you can usually get insurance for items such as your handbag, digital camera, bicycle, smartphone and tablet both outside the home and overseas. As a rule of thumb, if it's designed to be taken out of the home, it'll fall under this extension.

    As always, check your policy carefully. There may be limits to the cover and the items might have to be specifically mentioned in your policy documents. In many cases, such as for valuable bicycles worth £1,000 or more, you could be better off taking out a specialist bicycle insurance policy. Equally, if you carry a lot of valuable gadgets, eg, a laptop, tablet and smartwatch, then gadget insurance could be worth considering.

  • If you're going away and leaving your home unoccupied, you may find that your cover is restricted or that you might not be covered at all.

    Almost all insurers restrict the number of days you can leave your home unoccupied for while still covering you – usually 30 days. Leaving it empty for long periods makes it more at risk of burglary, and the cost of any claims greater as any damage can be left undetected for weeks.

    What's more, during the colder months insurers reduce the number of days you can leave your home empty for to as low as five days UNLESS you keep the heating on at a minimum constant temperature or drain the water heating system (not for the faint-hearted). The reason for this is to reduce the risk of burst pipes and the damage they cause.

    For example, with Admiral, if you go away for five days or more between November and March, you would only be fully covered if you keep your home constantly heated to 12°C, or turn off your water supply at the mains and drain the water system.

    Also, if you're insured with Policy Expert and leave your home unoccupied for 15 days or more during November until the end of March, you may not be fully covered unless you've set the heating at a continuous min temperature of 14°C or have switched off your gas and water supplies at the mains.

    Failing to leave the heating on when you're away could see any claims made for the period you were away being declined, risking costs running into £1,000s.

    Some insurers have these stipulations in their T&Cs but others, such as Aviva and Direct Line, don't – so make sure you know your provider's stance on this. If unsure, just give it a call.

  • Your insurer will ask you for an estimated value of your contents. But pricey items, usually ranging from £1,000 to £2,000, have to be separately listed to be covered on many policies. Expensive purchases such as laptops and jewellery (including engagement rings) may not be covered if they were bought after your policy was taken out.

    Even if your goods are valued under £1,000, some of them may not be covered, especially if they are mobile phones or tablets. A number of providers insist these items are specifically named on the policy, regardless of their value. After you buy something expensive, always check your policy carefully to ensure it's covered.

    Always keep hold of – and safeguard – receipts for valuable items like jewellery and big-ticket items such as specialist cameras or high-spec televisions. Insurers will usually want to see proof of purchase before paying out; a receipt, photograph, valuation (for jewellery or antiques) or even bank statement will suffice. This is also the case if adding such items to an 'all risks' or 'personal possessions' add-on to your contents policy.

  • More and more people run micro-businesses from their homes. Whether your working equipment will be covered varies from policy to policy. Some insurers will cover your computer or work phone automatically, others may not. It's important to check with your insurer and notify it if you work from home – it might drastically affect your policy and could even invalidate your cover. Any business stock is usually excluded under a normal policy, so always check to see if you need specialist cover.

  • Presents kept in your home will be covered by your usual contents insurance, but if you've bought big-ticket items as gifts they may need to be listed separately. Typically, the limit for single items ranges from £1,000 to £2,000, so check your policy and call your insurer if you've purchased anything above your limit.

    Many home insurers automatically increase your contents cover in December (and some even into January) at no cost but, if you need extra and your insurer does not routinely up its limits, you may have to pay a small fee if you want to extend your cover. Some insurers will also increase your contents cover for other special occasions, such as religious festivals and weddings.

    Here's a table of some of the market's biggest players that will increase contents cover automatically.

    INSURERS AND THEIR FESTIVE UPLIFTS

    Insurer Uplift on contents cover
    Asda £3,000 increase
    Axa (HomeSmart/HomeSure) 10% of the sum insured
    Churchill 10% of the sum insured
    Direct Line 10% of the sum insured
    Esure 15% of the sum insured
    John Lewis (Plus Cover) £7,500 increase
    L&G (Silver) 10% of the sum insured
    LV 10% of the sum insured
    More Than 10% of the sum insured
    Saga 10% of the sum insured
    Sheilas' Wheels 15% of the sum insured
    Zurich £5,000 increase
    Correct at December 2017

What happens if I make a claim?

  • Each policy normally comes with a compulsory and a voluntary excess, if you have selected one. A compulsory excess does what it says on the tin. If you make a claim, it's the amount you pay towards the cost. If your TV was stolen and you made a claim for £500, and had a compulsory excess of £50 – a typical sum – you'd get £450.

    If you have a £50 voluntary excess and a £50 compulsory excess, you'd only get £400.

    The excess is outlined when you buy the policy. What you pay is entirely up to you. A higher excess will lower the cost of your premium, with the insurer paying less if you have to make a claim. But if you make a claim, you'll get less money back.

    When you set your excess, think carefully. If you can't afford to cover a large chunk of the cost if you need to claim, don't set a high voluntary excess, as you'll have to pay that as well as the compulsory excess.

    If you need both buildings and contents insurance and you opt for a combined policy, make sure you check the details carefully. Some insurers will have a separate excess for both parts of your policy, which means a claim affecting both the structure of your home and its contents, such as a flood, will result in a double deduction.

    The Co-op, Hastings and Tesco may all charge two excesses on combined policies.

  • There are two main types of cover when it comes to replacing your goods. New-for-old entitles you to brand new stuff (or the requisite value) if your insurer agrees to replace your damaged or stolen goods. Or there's an indemnity policy, where you get the value of the goods at the time of the loss.

    An indemnity policy may be cheaper, but you only get a minor payout if you need to claim. So new-for-old is the best way to go. When you calculate the cost of your contents, factor in the value of your items as if they're new.

  • With the ever-increasing risk of flooding, we can all do our bit to minimise any loss.

    If you've been affected by storms or flooding, see how to protect your home and make a claim on your insurance if hit.

    Here are some need-to-knows for starters...

    My property has been damaged. What should I do?

    If you've emergency damage, act quickly to sort it:

    • To report a possible gas leak, contact the National Grid on 0800 111 999.
    • If you've electrical problems, call your local electricity distributor, NOT your energy company (see a list of emergency contact numbers).
    • Report any sewage hazards to your local council.

    When it comes to making repairs, don't do anything unsafe yourself. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says you should contact your insurer first – it should have a 24-hour claims line – and it should arrange for someone to do any work that's covered.

    But if you can't get through, or it won't be able to fix the problem quickly enough, arrange to have the damage fixed yourself by calling a qualified plumber, electrician or builder. Make sure you keep any receipts as these will form part of your claim.

    As long as you have adequate home insurance, you'll be covered for any damage. It also nearly always includes cover for alternative accommodation if you have no access to your property. Buildings insurance will cover the structure of your home as well as fixtures and fittings, while contents insurance will cover your possessions.

  • The ABI says people shouldn't rush into throwing away damaged items, unless they're a danger to their health. Items may be able to be repaired or restored – your insurer will be able to give you more information on this.

    Often, when claiming, vital documents or proof of possessions will have been washed away or damaged. If such documents are damaged or destroyed, get copies from the relevant provider. For example, you can go to the DVLA for motoring documents, brokers or insurers for duplicate insurance documents, or utility providers and the Passport Office. Check Gov.uk for how to replace birth certificates.

  • The ABI says customers should contact their insurers as soon as possible, so claims handlers can visit flooded properties to assess the damage.

    When claiming, you may have to pay towards repairs and replacements, known as an 'excess', so check your policy for the full information.

    You'll need to provide full details of the circumstances surrounding anything that's been lost or damaged, plus any evidence of that. Take photographs of the damage to your home, contents or car, or film the footage. This may help provide proof.

    If your possessions have been badly damaged or washed away, any photographs of you with a particular item when undamaged, or held by friends or relatives, will demonstrate you owned it. Receipts, credit card bills or bank account statements that show your purchases can also be used as evidence.

    It can take weeks, sometimes longer, for a property to fully dry out, and you should only return to your home when it's safe to do so. Also, don't be in a rush to redecorate your property. It needs to dry out properly and it'll need to be disinfected with antibacterial treatments. The restoration will start with the removal of debris and silt from the flood and properties are then stripped out, which includes hacking off damaged plaster and woodwork.

    More information is available in this guide how to protect your home and make a claim on your insurance.

  • Here are tips from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to help guide you prepare you:

    • Make sure you have emergency contact numbers for your insurer, local authority and utility companies to hand in a safe, waterproof place.
    • Listen out for bad weather warnings on local radio and TV.
    • Make sure any unsecured items that can cause damage in high winds, like ladders in gardens, are secured.
    • If you have a car, try and move it away from where flooding is expected.
    • If you are in a flood risk area, try to move valuable items upstairs or to a high place.
    • Keep a mobile phone with you.
    • Check if it is safe to use electricity, gas and water supplies.

     

Rather watch than read?

To see Martin on how to choose home insurance in a five-min lowdown, click on this video filmed in partnership with The Telegraph in June 2014.

Video player requires JavaScript enabled. You can watch this video here: https://youtu.be/dl6r2Dvpaxo

Nine home insurance need-to-knows

You may have mastered the basics of house insurance. But are you confident you can get the right cover at the right price?

  • For the buildings element of house insurance, a common mistake is to cover the home's market value (the amount it might sell for), instead of the rebuild value – the cost of rebuilding the property if it was knocked down. The key is the cost of materials, labour and architects for your area. However, buildings policies should also cover the cost of somewhere for you to stay while your home's rebuilt or is uninhabitable.

    To find a rebuild value, commissioning a survey is most reliable, but it's expensive unless you're getting one anyway (eg, if you're buying a new home). A less accurate, but quicker option is the Association of British Insurers' calculator.

  • For contents insurance, under-insuring could lead to you getting less than the value of your items if you need when you claim. Add up everything, including smaller items such as clothes, on a 'new-for-old' basis. (See the 'New for old' dropdown above for more.)

    For example, if you insure £20,000 of possessions when you actually have £40,000, and you need to make a claim, then you'll only have 50% of your contents protected.

    Quick questions to consider
    • There are a number of useful contents calculators, but our favourite free ones are from Direct Line and the AA*.

    • Make sure you're especially careful when you set the value of your contents. It may affect any potential claim and your level of coverage, as most insurers will only cover you on a proportional basis.

      Sounds complicated? This is how it works. If you have £20,000 of possessions but you only cover £10,000, your insurer will consider you 50% covered. So if you have a claim worth £5,000, you'll only get £2,500 of your claim.

  • Insurers usually offer the best deals to new customers, punishing existing customers with higher rates for failing to challenge them. If your renewal's coming up, jot it in your diary.

    Insurers charge more each year, knowing inertia stops policyholders switching. And even though new rules mean insurers must now tell you the premium you paid last year in correspondence to you, don't rely on this to take action.

    Compare comparison sites and then call your insurer to see if it can match, or even beat, the best quote you find. If they can match or beat it, you're quids in.

  • An MSE investigation in which we analysed more than three million quotes from the four biggest price comparison sites – Gocompare, Confused.com, Compare The Market and MoneySupermarket – has revealed buying your home insurance three weeks ahead of the start day can save you 20%+, compared with leaving it until the last minute.

    Based on an average price, the cheapest time to buy your policy is 17-30 days before the start date, with 21 days before being the optimum time. The differences in price are closely aligned to how much of a risk you're deemed to be, and when the highest number of insurers are likely to provide quotes (see the full price investigation).

  • A number of insurers will hold the price of the quotation for 90 days. So if you get a quotation two or three months before your renewal is due, you've locked in a price in case costs rise in the near future.

    Aviva*Churchill* and Privilege and will allow you to buy a policy up to 90 days ahead, John Lewis Insurance* is valid for up to 60 days.

    Remember, the quotations are subject to your details not changing. Set up a Tart Alert to remind you when it's going to expire.

  • Don't know your five-lever mortise deadlock from your rim automatic deadlatch? Well you should, as getting the right lock on your doors could massively lower your contents premium. Insurers ask what type of lock you have, so you risk invalidating your cover if you put down the wrong type.

    Quick questions

    • The following are roughly in order of what's considered most secure but there are no hard and fast rules to cutting costs.

      MOST SECURE: Five-lever mortise deadlock conforming to BS (British Standard) 3621.

      This is the gold standard of locks recommended by police and loved by insurers. If you're thinking of changing your locks, this is the one to go for. The British Standard kitemark is stamped on the metal plate so it's easy to see – it's heart-shaped with an 's' in the middle.

      Five-lever mortise deadlock.

      This is the same as above, but without a British Standard kitemark.

       

      Key-operated multi-point locking system.

      A multi-point locking system has a minimum of three points that all lock simultaneously at the turn of a key. Multi-point locks are most common on uPVC doors or patio doors.

      Rim automatic deadlatch with key-locking handle.

      These offer security at night, allowing you to lock your door more securely from the inside.

      Any other lock?

      If it's none of the above, it's probably classed as "other lock type". To cut costs and improve security, they recommend you consider getting one of the recognised locks above.

      The lock pictured directly above – the 'any other lock?' image – is of decent quality. But it doesn't meet insurance standards when it's fitted alone on a door. It has no external deadlocking feature, which means the latch can be bypassed and forced open.

    • If you have one of the top four locks above (ie, not 'any other lock') you should have decent security and lower premiums.

      Sometimes, insurers will distinguish between the four. Where they do, the five-lever mortise deadlock conforming to BS 3621 is normally the best, followed by the same lock but without the kitemark.

      But approaches vary among insurers, so it's a good idea to compare quotes from as many providers as possible.

      What lock you can have fitted may also depend on how sturdy your door frame is. A quality lock's only as strong as what it's attached to, so you'll need to take that into consideration.

    • The better your lock, the more secure your home is, and the less you pay for your insurance.

      We ran some quotes on a price comparison website. The difference in premium between a five-lever mortise deadlock (preferred by insurers) and a rim automatic deadlatch with key-locking handle with the same insurer was £50 for the year.

      A five-lever mortise deadlock comes in at about £25 to buy, so it's cheaper to change the locks and get a lower premium with the added comfort of extra security for your home.

      Insurers recommend the lock is professionally fitted, the cost of which may be similar to or higher than the lock itself. But don't let that put you off. Even if it means the lock doesn't pay for itself in year one, it's an investment, so it will in the future.

      You can't just say you have the lock to get a cheaper premium. If you're burgled and it turns out you don't have these locks, or you haven't used them, your insurer may not pay out or will want a higher excess should you claim.

    • If you are unsure about your locks, try comparing them to the pictures above. If you still can't find a match, Gocompare also has a detailed guide to locks, as does Confused.com. If you rent and you're still unsure, speak to your landlord.

  • Pay-monthly options are essentially high-interest loans. Either pay your premium in full, or if you can't afford to, use a credit card with a low APR (or better, a 0% credit card for spending, ensuring your repayments are large enough to clear it within a year).

  • There are growing numbers of accidental landlords – those who marry and move into a partner's home and rent out their old one, for example, or who inherit a property and decide to let it out rather than sell.

    Fail to let your insurer know (and, just as important, your lender!) and any claim on the cover would be invalid since your existing home insurance policy won't be deemed valid because you've now got tenants in.

    For convenience, you can ring your existing insurer who – in most cases – will simply 'upgrade' your ordinary home insurance policy into a basic landlord policy. It takes just one phone call and there'll usually be a higher premium to pay to reflect this greater risk.

    But do this and you'll usually find your new policy won't include key landlord-specific extras such as loss-of-rent guarantee or public liability. Instead, you'll likely be better off looking for a specialist landlord policy from elsewhere that includes all the add-ons as well as basic contents and buildings cover. Ensure you get the cheapest deal by doing a landlord insurance comparison.

  • If you have a child studying, and living away from home, they may automatically be covered against theft or loss as part of your home insurance policy, under its 'temporarily removed from the home' section.

    Many policies have this cover (but do check yours), as long as your home is your child's main permanent address (ie, they'll return to your home when not a student). However, it only applies while the contents are in their accommodation (or indeed at your home).

    If you want cover for mobiles or laptops, or other items your child normally wears or carries away from your home, or their accommodation, you can add an 'all risks' or 'unspecified personal possessions' section to your policy. This covers your child's belongings while they're out and about. But it typically comes at an added cost.

    Alternatively, if you prefer your child to have their own policy, see our Contents Insurance for Tenants guide.

Step 1. The top comparison sites

Once you know the basics from our top nine tips for cutting costs, it's time to visit the comparison sites which zip your details to a number of insurers' and brokers' websites to find the cheapest quotes. As no single site captures the entire market and prices vary, combining a number of sites is the best way to make a meaningful saving.

IMPORTANT: Remember, as we've said above, buying your policy three weeks ahead can save big compared with getting it last minute. See the full price investigation.

  • When ranking comparisons, we want to get you to use the best ones, as quickly as possible. We focus principally on price, as depending on who you are, you can get cheaper quotes on different screen scrapers. However, we also factor in 'softer' features to assess the quality of each.

    Ranking on price

    We analysed the prices of a large range of insurance quotes given by Compare The Market, Confused.com, Gocompare and MoneySupermarket.

    • Step 1. Check how many times each comparison site returned the cheapest or within 5% of the cheapest quote.
    • Step 2. Rank the comparison sites based on their 'score' in the first category.
    • Step 3. Assess how often each comparison gave a unique cheapest quote, ie, not just equal cheapest with a higher-scoring comparison.
    • Step 4. Alter the order to see if it's possible to increase the speed with which you access the cheapest quotes.

    Quality rating (out of 10)
    We use this as a tie-breaker, when combining two different combinations of comparisons gives similar results.

    If such a combo exists, we use the quality rating as a tie-breaker.

    The rating is based on a quarterly survey of other features of the comparisons, including their accuracy when compared with prices when you click through to the insurers. Other features assessed are:

    • Do the prices quoted change when you click through to insurers' websites?
    • Do other terms of the quote change when you click through to the insurers' websites?
    • Do your top quotes have the excess you asked for?
    • If you've requested no marketing follow-up, do you get one?
    • Is the price for any add-ons clearly stated?

    This is a newish process so we are intending to improve it as we go, and welcome all feedback.

  • Yes and no. Comparison sites send your details to a raft of insurers, they then use information on your credit file to judge your quote. This leaves a 'soft search' on your file which you can see as a reference if you get your credit report – but this worries many people.

    Yet crucially lenders CAN'T SEE these soft searches, so they have no impact on your creditworthiness. The only time a hard search – which lenders can see – may go on your file is if you then go on and actually apply for insurance, specifically 'pay monthly' insurance (because the firm effectively pays upfront for you and you repay the loan over the year).

    More info can be found in our Will buying insurance from a comparison site affect my credit score? guide.

  • Some comparison sites include 'free' gifts for every policy you take out. At Compare The Market there's a soft toy meerkat (you can choose from eight) for each new policy plus 2for1 cinema tickets and 2for1 at 1,000s of restaurants (see Meerkat Movies & Restaurant trick for full details).

    Though remember: don't end up paying a higher premium than you need to because you are sucked in by the incentives on offer from one particular comparison site.

Find the best route for you

Typical homes

Follow the order below if your home has more than one bedroom and its contents are worth less than £35,000. This is also for policyholders who haven't made a claim in the past five years.

No single site captures the entire market, combining a number of sites is the best way to make a really meaningful saving so try them one by one.

Gets a cheap quote 82% of the time (in our sample)

Simple edit and quote function.

Option to order by MoneySupermarket quality rating.

Clearly asks to 'opt-in' if you want to be contacted.

The excess defaults to £250 but can be reduced.

 Increases chances of a cheap quote to 95%

Quotation page shows monthly payments and extras.

Confirmation of the quote sent by email.

Options available how to be contacted.

The excess defaults to £250 but can be reduced.

 Increases chances of a cheap quote to 99%

The sum insured is clearly stated.

You can 'opt in' for marketing calls, instead of opting out.

The compulsory excesses are not clearly shown.

It's not easy to find out how to modify quotes.

Try to really nail down all the quotes

BOOST CHANCES TO NEARLY 100%

If you still haven't found a deal you're happy with, or want to push the envelope, there are some more options to try.

Try these comparison sites if you have time – each takes about 5-10 minutes: Confused.com*QuoteZone*uSwitch*.

High-value contents (over £35,000)

Having lots of contents and expensive items in your home may make it difficult to insure. Follow the steps below to find the right cover.

Decide how much to cover your contents for

With high value contents, it's crucial not to underinsure. It may seem cheaper to err on the low side, but this could lead to insurers not paying out when you need them to. Add up everything you'd want to replace, including smaller items such as clothes.

If you insure £20,000 of possessions when you actually have £40,000, you'll at best only have half of your contents protected or, worse still, the policy could be cancelled for being underinsured. The latter will mean a hike in the future cost of insurance.

To get your magic number, walk from room to room, noting what everything would cost if bought again new. Hiscox also has an online calculator.

When you sign up, you must specify individual items worth a lot (£1,500+) – such as an engagement ring or an expensive watch – or risk them not being covered. If you're not sure, phone the insurer.

Very expensive possessions – eg, antiques, paintings – should be professionally valued. Remember their value may increase over time.

If you have several mid to high-value possessions, Hiscox may be worth a check. Others are Home & Legacy, which provides three types of contracts, and John Lewis Specialist Home Insurance*.

  • Types of cover
    Once you've defined the cover level, make sure you're comparing the price like for like.

  • New for old
    Here, the payout should be for the original price of the items, though for clothing there's usually a wear and tear deduction.

  • Indemnity cover
    The provider only pays out the current value of your possessions. It's cheaper, but it can leave you in the lurch.

  • Add-on cover
    There are various types. 'All risks' includes property taken outside your home such as wallets or jewellery; legal cover pays for legal representation or disputes.

No single site captures the entire market, combining a number of sites is the best way to make a really meaningful saving so try them one by one.

Gets a cheap quote 81% of the time (in our sample)

Simple edit and quote function.

Option to order by MoneySupermarket quality rating.

Clearly asks to 'opt-in' if you want to be contacted.

The excess defaults to £250 but can be reduced.

 Increases chances of a cheap quote to 95%

Quotation page shows monthly payments and extras.

Confirmation of the quote sent by email.

Options available how to be contacted.

The excess defaults to £250 but can be reduced.

 Increases chances of a cheap quote to 99%

The sum insured is clearly stated.

You can 'opt in' for marketing calls, instead of opting out.

The compulsory excesses are not clearly shown.

It's not easy to find out how to modify quotes.

Try to really nail down all the quotes

BOOST CHANCES TO NEARLY 100%

If you still haven't found a deal you're happy with, or want to push the envelope, there are some more options to try.

Try these comparison sites if you have time – each takes about 5-10 minutes: Confused.com*QuoteZone*uSwitch*.

One-bedroom homes

The more bedrooms you have, the higher the cost of insurance. If rooms in your home were originally used as bedrooms, but you've only ever had them function as studies or games rooms, then don't count them in the number of bedrooms. But never lie about a room's purpose — it's fraud and is illegal.

No single site captures the entire market, combining a number of sites is the best way to make a really meaningful saving so try them one by one.

Gets a cheap quote 89% of the time (in our sample)

Simple edit and quote function.

Option to order by MoneySupermarket quality rating.

Clearly asks to 'opt-in' if you want to be contacted.

The excess defaults to £250 but can be reduced.

 Increases chances of a cheap quote to 97%

Quotation page shows monthly payments and extras.

Confirmation of the quote sent by email.

Options available how to be contacted.

The excess defaults to £250 but can be reduced.

To increase your chances of a cheap quote

Clear option to opt out of telemarketing calls.

Images giving examples of the types of locks.

The excess defaults to £250 but can be reduced.

Limited filtering system if you want to select cover levels.

Try to really nail down all the quotes

BOOST CHANCES TO NEARLY 100%

If you still haven't found a deal you're happy with, or want to push the envelope, there are some more options to try.

Try these comparison sites if you have time – each takes about 5-10 minutes: Gocompare*QuoteZone*uSwitch*.

Renting or in shared accommodation

Getting insurance for a room in a shared house or flat doesn't need to be expensive. 

If you rent, your landlord's responsible for insuring the buildings, so you only need contents insurance. 

Our Cheap Contents Insurance for Tenants guide which highlights why contents insurance is essential for renters and how to get the right policy to suit you at the cheapest price. Bear in mind, insurers usually only pay out if there is a sign of forced entry – hence the importance of having the room your contents are in kept locked.

Struggling to find cover

Some groups, such as those in areas prone to flooding, subsidence or whose home is left unoccupied for long periods, can find it difficult to find cheap insurance cover as they are considered too high a risk. Those with a chequered financial past – such as bankruptcy or county court judgments – may struggle too.

In these situations, provider's Intelligent Insurance* (see below how to get a £45 Amazon e-gift card) and Home Protect* may be able to help.

If flooding is the reason you're struggling to find affordable insurance cover, Flood Re has a useful tool that will list insurers to try.

One final option is to try speaking to a broker about your individual circumstances (find one on the British Insurance Brokers' Association website).

Quick question
  • Improve your risk profile and increase your chances of getting the lowest possible quote.

    Make sure you have the right security – not only to your 'self-contained' room, but to the main entrance to your home or flat. Without an approved lock, it's difficult to find a policy giving you theft cover. So know your locks – see the info on them above.

    Keep all your contents in your locked room. Anything left in a communal area is unlikely to be insured against theft. Remember, theft only applies when there's violent and/or forced entry.

Made past claims (in the last five years)

Combine the comparison sites in this order...

Comparison sites zip your details to insurers' and brokers' websites, finding the cheapest. So be aware they often feed your personal details to insurers. They don't all compare the same sites, so combine them. We've analysed the comparison sites to find the cheapest results.

No single site captures the entire market – combining a number of sites is the best way to make a really meaningful saving, so try them one by one.

Gets a cheap quote 80% of the time (in our sample) 

Clear option to opt out of telemarketing calls.

Images giving examples of the types of locks.

The excess defaults to £250 but can be reduced.

Limited filtering system if you want to select cover levels.

Increases chances of a cheap quote to 92%

Simple edit and quote function.

Option to order by MoneySupermarket quality rating.

Clearly asks to 'opt-in' if you want to be contacted.

The excess defaults to £250 but can be reduced.

 Increases chances of a cheap quote to 97%

The sum insured is clearly stated.

You can 'opt in' for marketing calls, instead of opting out.

The compulsory excesses are not clearly shown.

It's not easy to find out how to modify quotes.

Try to really nail down all the quotes

BOOST CHANCES TO NEARLY 100%

If you still haven't found a deal you're happy with, or want to push the envelope, there are some more options to try.

Try these comparison sites if you have time – each takes about 5-10 minutes: Compare The Market*QuoteZone*uSwitch*.

Step 2. The ones comparisons miss

For commercial reasons, some large competitive insurers aren't included by comparison sites. And even if they are listed, they sometimes don't give you access to special deals, such as these listed below.

The insurers not on comparison sites

Two of the biggest insurers on the market, Direct Line* and Aviva*, are not on comparison sites, only offering their products directly. Benchmark your cheapest comparison quotes against prices offered by these sites, which currently have the following deals on:

  • Direct Line*. If you already have a Direct Line* policy, give it a try as you could get a discount for having a policy with it.

  • Aviva*. Grab up to 20% off online whether you buy buildings, contents or combined buildings and contents cover.

Need short-term (monthly) buildings and/or contents cover?

If you're looking for temporary insurance cover to protect your building, contents or both on a monthly basis, big insurer Ageas has created the Ageas Elastic* policy to cater for this.

The way it works is once you have bought the policy, it continues on a monthly rolling basis, meaning it renews each month, until you stop it.

    • Use a slider to select how high (or low) you want the excess to be for each section of cover.
    • Only available if you're aged 25 or older.
    • All changes have to be made online via your dedicated 'dashboard'.
    • If you need more than short-term cover, always compare against an annual policy.

     As it's a new way of buying home insurance, it would be great if you could share your Elastic experiences on our forum.

Hot deals comparisons miss

While comparison sites offer a large chunk of the market's deals, others are only available directly from insurers or brokers. If any of the providers below are among your cheapest on comparison sites, use the links below to buy instead and take advantage of special deals.

Intelligent Insurance logo

Use this MSE Blagged Age Co* link to buy a new combined buildings and contents policy by 11.59pm on Thursday 31 January 2019 and you'll receive a £75 Amazon gift card (£15 if you only buy a buildings or contents policy). The voucher should arrive within 120 days of your policy start date.

This deal is for new customers only (those who have never had an Age UK or Age Co home insurance policy).

  • An online deal such as this has to track properly for you to get your gift card. A few things can prevent that, so make sure you:

    1) Disable ad-blocking software or cookie blockers (if you don't know what they are, it's unlikely you're using them so it's less of an issue). These can stop the deal tracking, so please temporarily unblock them.

    2) Don't exit your browser and reopen it while signing up for the deal, as this can stop it tracking correctly.

    In the unlikely event that you don't receive the gift card 120 days after your policy start date, please email affiliateenquiries@ageuk.org.uk and include your policy number and start date.

Intelligent Insurance logo

Buy a new buildings only, contents only OR combined buildings and contents policy by Friday 30 November, via this MSE Blagged Intelligent Insurance* link, and get a £45 Amazon e-gift card emailed to you.

This offer is only available to new customers (who have not had an Intelligent Insurance home insurance policy in the last 12 months). The voucher will be emailed about 60 days after your policy start date.

Note: It may not be the cheapest if you just have standard needs, as this provider specialises in arranging cover for people who find it difficult to find home insurance cover, such as those in areas prone to flooding, subsidence or whose home is left unoccupied for long periods. It can also help those with a chequered financial past – such as bankruptcy or county court judgments.

We have little feedback on the company, so please tell us about your experiences.

  • Online deals have to track properly in order for you to get your e-gift card. A few things can prevent that, so please make sure that you:

    1) Don't exit your browser and re-open it while signing up for the deal, as this can stop it tracking correctly.

    2) Check your spam folder once you've signed up for the deal in case your e-gift card is sent there. Also, remember it will take around 60 days after your policy start date for your e-gift card to arrive.

    In the unlikely event that you don't receive your voucher around 60 days after your policy start date, please email marketing@intelligentinsurance.co.uk and include your policy number and start date.

Leisure Guard logo

Buy a new combined buildings and contents policy via this MSE Blagged Leisure Guard* link by 9am on Monday 31 December and get a £40 Amazon voucher.

This offer is only available to new customers (those who have never had a previous Leisure Guard Home Insurance policy) where the voucher will be emailed about 90 days after your policy start date (subject to the policy not having been cancelled).

We have little feedback on this home insurance policy and company, so please tell us about your experiences.

  • An online deal such as this has to track properly for you to get your gift card. A few things can prevent that, so make sure you:

    1) Disable ad-blocking software or cookie blockers (if you don't know what they are, it's unlikely you're using them so it's less of an issue). These can stop the deal tracking, so please temporarily unblock them.

    2) Don't exit your browser and reopen it while signing up for the deal, as this can stop it tracking correctly.

    In the event that you don't receive the voucher around 90 days after your policy start date, please email info@leisureguardinsurance.co.uk and include your policy number and start date.

Post Office logo

The Post Office* promises to beat renewals by up to £50 for strictly like-for-like policies (eg, excess and amount covered) for new customers. Send your renewal documents to claim. It can take 60 days to complete the offer. (See T&Cs for more.)

Will it work? We've seen these deals before. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't – there's no guarantee. Yes, the Post Office will do it, but can be incredibly picky, meaning it may scrutinise your policies to make sure they're like-for-like. We've received feedback from users who have found this frustrating, while others say it works.

Step 3. Check your policy

Always double-check the policy terms. Once you've found the cheapest quotes from the screen scrapers, make two important checks.

  • Double-check the quotes
    Click through to the insurance provider's own website to double-check the quotes. Some comparison sites make a few assumptions to speed up searches.

  • Examine the policy's coverage
    Check whether it's suitable. While you're there, it's worth playing with the policy details to see if you can finesse the price down. Look at the excess, and see if any tweaks can cut the cost.

Step 4. Haggle

Haggling often won't get you the market's best deal. But it can cut the cost if you don't want to switch insurer.

Once you've followed the steps above and have the best price, get on the phone and haggle. If your insurer can beat or match your best quote, it saves the hassle of switching policy. If that doesn't work and you're still in the mood, enlist the help of a broker.

For more haggling tips, read the full Haggle On The High Street guide and the Top 10 Firms To Haggle With.

Saving £700 on home/contents insurance + better cover. Always get new quote, never accept renewal offer.
@simonsanders

Sainsbury's renewal was £252. Rang Sainsbury's, talked it down to £181. 
@ladygeeke

Step 5. Get cashback

Once you know which your cheapest provider is, you need to check you're not missing out on any cashback deals.

If your second or third cheapest quotes weren't much more expensive, see if cashback's available for them too, and find the overall winner.

It's important to be aware that the cashback is coming from the comparison site, not the insurer, so getting the cashback relies on its ability to pay.

Things you need to know before getting cashback...

  • Cashback is never 100% guaranteed. There can be issues with tracking and allocating the payment. Many cashback sites are small firms with limited backing, and you've no protection if anything happens to them.

  • Money held in your cashback site account has no protection at all if that company goes bust. Always withdraw it as soon as you're eligible.

  • While it shouldn't be a problem, if you've used comparison sites before, there's a minor risk that the cashback may not track due to cookies on your computer – so it's good practice to clear those first (read about cookies).

    If you're new to cashback sites, make sure you read the Top Cashback Sites guide for pros and cons before using them.

I got paid more cashback than the policy cost, so I made £20 profit.
Forumite Frugaldom

I got home and contents insurance for £50 with £50 cashback from Legal & General!
#FreeInsurance. 
@ZIMPAZ

The record results following the system

Of course most people just want a quick cheap result. In which case following the first few steps of the guide should do that.

However if you're prepared to go all the way, a few people can really bring costs down to ridiculous levels – we've even had some people earn more cashback than their policy costs – effectively meaning they were paid to take out the cover! The current record is held by MoneySaver Saving4Jesus:

The record: £67.50 PROFIT for a year's cover

In 2007, forum user Saving4Jesus recorded a profit by using a combination of our home insurance system and cashback sites to get this inspiring profit. Saving4Jesus was even able to get paid £18 in 2008 following the same process.

This is how Saving4Jesus did it.

  1. Quote of £52.50. Using some of the comparison sites, he found a quote for £52.50.

  2. Cashback £120. That same insurer was paying a mammoth £120 cashback. Cashback tends to be fixed whether your quote's for £77 or £770, as it's all about insurers' marketing budgets rather than price. For a year's home insurance, he actually made £67.50.

Our 2016 champion, '£23 profit'

The battle to be our home insurance champion for 2016 was hotly contested. The first entry was Matt who tweeted:

@MoneySavingExp @MartinSLewis Comparison sites in order from your site then @quidco to get £55 cashback on a £58 new policy!

Yet that didn't last long, as soon as we told people about it, we got this email in from MoneySaver Ian:

On your recent weekly email it was stated that after cashback the home contents cheapest insurance this year was £3. Well I have paid £32.41 and I have £55.55 cashback confirmed, so I should have £23.14 profit.

Can you beat it?

Have you been able to make a profit buying insurance?

Share your success stories. Let us know if you beat it.

We love to hear when you get cracking deals, should it be about your cashback, haggling or insurance saving success story. So tell us by email or report super-cheap deals via the forum‚ so we can share them with other MoneySavers.

Have you used this guide's techniques to save? If so, please tell us in the Home Insurance Super Deals forum discussion.

Q&A

How to complain about your insurance provider

The insurance industry doesn't have the best customer service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include claims either not being paid out on time or at all, unfair charges, or exclusions being hidden in the small print. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but if not then…

Free tool if you're having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with to help people get complaints justice.

FREE INSURANCE COMPLAINTS TOOL*

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will escalate it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

Important: If your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, then instead just let us know by emailing voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com as that's usually quicker.

SPOTTED OUT OF DATE INFO/BROKEN LINKS? EMAIL: BROKENLINK@MONEYSAVINGEXPERT.COM