From what it covers to when you need it, here's everything you need to know about buildings insurance.
What does buildings insurance cover?
Buildings insurance protects the structure of your home – the bricks and mortar, pipes, cables and drains. It covers the rebuilding cost if your home's damaged or destroyed, including permanent fixtures like fitted kitchens, bathrooms and wardrobes. And most policies will also cover your fences, garage and shed too.
Your buildings insurance should cover the full cost of rebuilding and redecorating your home, or repairing damage caused by:
- Fire, explosion and smoke
- Storms, floods and lightning
- Natural disasters
- Pipes leaking water or oil
- Theft and vandalism
- Falling trees, lamp posts and satellite dishes
- Subsidence, landslip and heave
Flooding and subsidence exclusions
Your insurance company may exclude either of these from your policy, or charge extra to cover them – especially if you live in an area prone to flooding or subsistence. So always check your policy document carefully.
Need cover now? The cheapest quote might not be the best
When you’re buying your buildings insurance, make sure you’re fully covered. Remember that the cheapest quote might exclude the most important risk to your property.
Buildings insurance. What isn’t covered?
Buildings insurance is not the same as contents cover. So your furniture and personal possessions aren’t protected.
An easy way to know what’s contents
Anything you’d normally take with you when moving house is usually classed as contents – and isn’t covered by buildings insurance. You’ll probably find that carpets and curtains aren’t covered either.
Do I need buildings insurance?
Unlike car insurance, buildings insurance isn’t a legal requirement – just a very sensible precaution. It’s not like car insurance, you don’t have to have it.
Mortgage providers often insist
If you have a mortgage on your property, your lender might require buildings cover before releasing any money.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I buy buildings and contents insurance from the same company?
You don’t have to buy your buildings and contents insurance from the same company. But you’ll probably get a better deal if you do.
Combined cover is convenient
Many people prefer to have just one set of policy documents, one renewal date, and one company to deal with if they have to make a claim.
Do I need buildings insurance if I have a mortgage?
Your mortgage company will almost certainly insist you have buildings insurance on your property.
You’re not tied to your lender
They can’t make you take their own buildings insurance. So you’re free to shop around and find the best cover.
One thing to consider though, they can reject your insurance if they don’t think it’s enough to cover the cost of rebuilding.
Do I need buildings insurance if I don’t have a mortgage?
Buildings insurance isn’t compulsory. But it’s worth asking yourself, 'Can I afford to rebuild my home if it burns down? Or gets damaged or destroyed some other way?'
I’m moving home. When should I start my buildings insurance policy?
Your buildings insurance should start on the date you exchange, not the date you complete. You need to keep your buildings cover going on your old house too, because you’re responsible for looking after it until your sale is completed.
Stay insured even if you’re repossessed
If your mortgage company repossesses your home, you’re still responsible for keeping it insured until it is sold. You should also tell your insurer if you’re no longer living there – or you may not be covered.
Do I need buildings insurance if I live in a flat or leasehold property?
If you live in leasehold flat the building should be insured by the person who owns the freehold – although you may actually be paying for it through your service charge.
Top tip: Check your lease to find out who’s responsible for arranging buildings insurance.
Do tenants have to pay for buildings insurance?
Your landlord is responsible for buildings insurance, since they actually own the property.
All you need is contents insurance to cover your personal possessions (remember to include any of your own furniture). You might be responsible for damage to the landlord’s fixtures and fittings, so check whether your contents insurance covers you for property that isn’t your own.
Is landlord insurance the same as buildings insurance?
Yes. Buildings insurance on a rental property is exactly the same as on your own home. You need to be covered for things like fire, burst pipes, floods and storm damage.
Extra cover for landlords
If you’re renting property out, you might want to add some extra features, to protect you, your property and your tenants.
With British Gas Landlord Insurance you can choose accidental damage cover, loss of rental income and employers’ liability insurance 1 – a legal requirement if you’re using plumbers, electricians and others to look after your property.
How much buildings insurance do I need?
Your buildings insurance cover should be enough to pay for materials and labour to completely rebuild your home. Just so you know, that’s not the same as its current market value, or the price you paid for it.
Rebuilding costs less
Rebuild costs are normally lower than the market value – so make sure you don’t pay for more cover than you need. Some insurers give you unlimited cover, particularly on a large house.
Ask your insurer for help
Your insurance company can give you an idea how much cover you need based on the size, type and construction of your home.
Use an online calculator
The Association of British Insurers’ website has a free Building Cost Information Service calculator if you’re looking for something more accurate. An alternative is to use a qualified surveyor, but you’d have to pay for that.
Do regular reviews
Every time you renew your buildings insurance, you should check the amount of cover. Rebuilding costs will rise over time, though your insurance company may take this into consideration when they renew your policy.
Extensions and loft conversions
If you’ve made improvements to your home, like an extension or loft conversion, remember to add that into the rebuilding costs.
Added extras for buildings insurance
If your home is in a particularly high risk area, or you simply want to cover yourself for all possibilities, there’s a range of extras you can add to your policy.
Here’s what you can cover – for a higher premium:
- Flooding or subsidence – in an area which normally excludes cover
- Accidental damage to fixtures and fittings in your home
- Alternative accommodation, if you have to move out for repairs
- Damage to boundary walls, fences, gates or driveways
- Damage to a swimming pool
- Damage to underground pipes, cables, gas and electricity supplies – if not covered as standard
- Glass in windows, doors and conservatories
- Legal expenses cover
Some of these could already be covered by your particular policy, so check carefully before you add anything.
British Gas Home Insurance. Looking for cover?
All our buildings and contents policies are Five Star rated by the independent experts Moneyfacts. And they’re also backed by one of the UK’s leading insurers. Want to see what you’d pay?
Terms and Conditions apply. Home Insurance is arranged and administered by British Gas and is underwritten by a carefully selected insurer. Your policy documents will show who your insurer is. British Gas is a trading name of British Gas Services Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England & Wales (Registered No.03141243). Registered office: Millstream, Maidenhead Road, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 5GD.