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What is buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance protects you against the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it’s damaged or destroyed.¹ 

Buildings insurance covers the structure of your home (e.g. the roof, walls, and windows) and any permanent fixtures and fittings, such as fitted kitchen units and bathroom suites.

What does buildings insurance cover?

Buildings insurance protects you against damage caused by:*

  • weather such as storms and lightning

  • flooding

  • burst or frozen pipes and water damage

  • fire or explosion

  • subsidence

  • theft and vandalism

  • falling trees or branches

  • cars or other traffic hitting your property

Most policies also provide alternative accommodation if your home becomes uninhabitable due to an insured event.

What doesn’t buildings insurance cover?

Buildings insurance covers a wide range of risks, but it doesn’t cover everything. Events and risks that are not covered are known as “exclusions”.

Exclusions will vary between policies, but you won’t usually be covered against: 

  • general wear and tear (e.g. gutters leaking)

  • damage due to lack of maintenance (e.g. roof tiles not being replaced, causing the roof to leak when it rains)

  • items (i.e. a boiler or fridge) breaking down

  • homes left unattended for a long time (normally 30 days but some policies go up to 90 days)

  • any amount over the limits specified in the policy

  • deliberate damage by you or anyone living in your home

You should compare buildings and contents insurance to check what’s covered, as well as how much it would cost.

*These things may vary from insurer to insurer, so it’s worth checking the insurer’s T&Cs.

Before you start

How does buildings insurance work?

When you buy an annual buildings insurance policy, you pay for it in one lump sum or by monthly instalments. The policy will protect your home up to a stated limit against certain risks.

If you make a claim, the insurer will either pay you a sum of money to fix the damage or arrange for a company to do the repairs.

Do I need buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance is compulsory if you have a mortgage. This is because the lender needs to know its security (i.e. your home) is protected.

  • If you live in a flat, the buildings insurance for the whole building should be organised by your freeholder. If you jointly own the freehold with other leaseholders, then you’re collectively responsible for making sure the whole building is insured.

  • If you’re renting, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to buy buildings insurance. 

If you’re a landlord you’ll need landlord buildings insurance and if you’re building your own home you’ll need self-build insurance.

How to buy buildings insurance?

Buildings insurance is compulsory if you have a mortgage, but you don’t need to buy it from your mortgage company.

Other companies such as banks, building societies, and insurance firms will all be able to give you a buildings insurance quote.

You can buy buildings insurance as a standalone policy, or as part of a combined policy including buildings and contents insurance. You should compare buildings insurance or buildings and contents insurance quotes from different companies to get the best deal.

How much does buildings insurance cost?

When you apply for a buildings insurance quote the insurer will ask you for information about your property and use this information to calculate a premium.

To get a quote you’ll need to know:

  • when your property was built

  • if your home is constructed with standard materials

  • how much of your roof is flat

  • if you live in an area likely to flood

  • if your home is near any tall trees

  • whether your property has previously suffered from subsidence

  • if your property is listed

  • any security measures in your home (like alarms or a camera)

Some insurers may want to know more than what’s listed above, so make sure you’re prepared with the necessary information when looking to get a quote.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between home insurance and buildings insurance?

Home insurance normally means buildings insurance or contents insurance, or a joint policy covering both. Buildings insurance just covers the structure of your home, not the contents.

What’s a buildings insurance excess?

The excess on an insurance policy is the amount you’ll  have to pay towards any claim. In general, cheap buildings insurance will have a higher excess.

Can I buy listed buildings insurance?

A listed building is a property that’s of special architectural or historical interest or importance. 

You’ll need specialised buildings insurance if your home is a listed building. This is because specialist materials or techniques may be needed for repair and renovation work, and these can be expensive.

How much buildings insurance should I get?

When you take out buildings insurance, your insurer will want to know your property’s “rebuild cost”. This is different to its market value.

The rebuild cost is the amount it would cost to completely rebuild your home if it was destroyed beyond repair.²

As well as covering the structure of the property, the rebuild cost also covers permanent fixtures and fittings such as bathrooms and fitted kitchens, plus labour and materials.

You can calculate your rebuild cost by using the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) calculator.³

What does buildings insurance cover in flats?

Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairs to the fabric of the building (i.e. the walls, roof, windows etc.) in the event of damage.

It should also cover communal areas such as staircases and hallways, as well as liability cover in case someone visiting the building is hurt in an accident.

Buildings insurance will also cover the permanent fixtures and fittings in your flat, such as the kitchen and bathroom, but won’t cover your personal possessions.

Does buildings insurance cover roof repairs?

Buildings insurance will cover roof repairs if your roof is damaged during an insured event (i.e. a storm) but it won’t cover repairs needed due to wear and tear or poor maintenance.

Does buildings insurance cover your boiler?

Boiler repairs are not normally included as standard on a buildings insurance policy. Home emergency insurance or boiler insurance is needed to cover boiler repairs.

Does buildings insurance cover burst pipes?

Buildings insurance will normally cover pipes that burst due to becoming frozen, but most policies won’t cover pipes that burst due to being old or corroded.

Does buildings insurance cover subsidence?

Subsidence is when the ground beneath your home moves, causing the foundations to sink. Most buildings policies will cover your property if it hasn’t previously suffered from subsidence.

However, you’ll find it more difficult to find reasonably priced cover if your property has had subsidence in the past.

Further resources

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