‘Buildings and contents’ is a type of home insurance policy, popular across the UK.
As the name suggests, it covers your buildings and their contents. Policies for these two components can be bought separately if desired, but it is usually cheaper to buy them in one package. Doing so should also result in less paperwork each year.
Your property’s structure and permanent fixtures and fittings are covered by the 'buildings' part of the policy.
If you have a mortgage, then your provider will almost certainly insist you take out buildings cover in order for the loan to be approved. Leaseholder terms may also stipulate that buildings cover must be taken out.
If you already own your own property outright, the decision whether to take out buildings cover lies entirely with you. Whether or not you have the finances or other wherewithal to re-home yourself and any other occupants in the event of your home’s destruction – or serious damage – should be considered carefully. In the UK, the most likely causes for such a situation are fire and flood.
Any buildings insurer will require the 'rebuild value' of your home. This can be found on the property deeds - but may well be out of date depending on when they were drawn up. You could use a 'rebuild value calculator' or the services of a surveyor to arrive at this figure.
The Association of British Insurers has developed a 'residential rebuilding cost calculator' to help with this task.
This component covers your personal belongings and valuables against accident, theft or loss.
When deciding if you need this cover or not, you might consider how important these items are to you and whether or not you could replace them.
Most policies even cover for things like the contents of your fridge or freezer.
You will need to provide your insurer with accurate valuations of key items during the quotation process to make sure you're not under-insured.
Many online content calculators are available to help with this task, which can be considerably more time-consuming if carried out manually item by item, room by room.
Upper limits are usually set for each item, often at around £1,000.
In circumstances where ordinary contents cover is insufficient – say for an item of jewellery – then you might need to place them on a separate list for your provider.
As with all insurance policies, you should take the time to read the terms and conditions carefully. Make sure you're aware of any exclusions.
While it is certainly cheaper to buy both components together – there's no point taking out such a policy if you don’t require either one of the components.
Some landlords, for example, might not need contents cover if they are letting their property either unfurnished or part-furnished. However, they will require a specialist 'landlords insurance' policy.
Tenants, meanwhile, are unlikely to require buildings cover. However, contents insurance may well be of interest to them.
Check to see if you already have contents cover as part of your current account, credit card or other service that you're already signed up to. It goes without saying that doubling up on insurance is a waste of your money.
As with buildings cover, it’s important to read the terms and conditions of any contents policy before you take it out.
Common buildings and contents exclusions
- Most combined – and indeed separate – policies will not cover you for accidental damage – such as leaving a tap running which causes flooding.
- In most cases you cannot run a business from home without telling your home insurance provider first.
- Most policies will not pay any claim if you have been sub-letting your property.
- If you fail to use locks on doors and windows that were listed in the quotation process, any burglary claim may be repudiated.
- Home emergency cover is not usually included in such a policy, unless expressly stated.
startrescue.co.uk always recommend seeking the services of a professional tradesperson If you're not entirely comfortable carrying out repairs or maintenance by yourself.