Building insurance is essential to protect your home, and could end up saving you a whole lot of money if something goes wrong. However, it can be tricky to know exactly what is covered by buildings insurance and what isn’t.
There are two types of home insurance – contents insurance which protects all the belongings in your property, and buildings insurance which covers the structure of the building.
Limits, terms and exclusions apply to all building insurance policies, so it’s important to check that you have the right level of cover.
If you’re wondering precisely “What does building insurance cover?”, this guide has all the answers. We’ll explain exactly what you can expect from a buildings insurance policy and how to determine how much buildings cover you need.
Before we dive into answering the question on everyone’s lips – “What does building insurance cover?” – let’s explain exactly what it is and how it works.
Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing damage to the structure of a property. This includes the walls, windows and roof, as well as permanent fixtures and fittings, such as baths, toilets and fitted kitchens.
As a general rule of thumb, buildings insurance covers the cost of rebuilding your home from the ground up. This total is likely to differ from the market value of your house and often includes the cost of required services, like demolition, site clearance and architects’ fees.
Buildings insurance covers the cost to repair damage to the structure of your house. It covers fixtures and fittings, walls, windows, doors and the roof.
Generally, building insurance covers the cost of loss or damage caused by:
Buildings insurance cover also tends to pay for the cost of a temporary place to stay if your home is unfit to live in due to a claim.
Usually, homeowners will combine buildings insurance with contents insurance to also ensure their belongings are protected from loss, theft or damage.
When purchasing building insurance, it’s important to note that there are some things it won’t cover, such as:
Buildings insurance is often purchased by homeowners or those renting out a property that they own.
However, even if you don’t have a mortgage, it is advised to take out a buildings insurance policy. You will need to weigh up the cost of purchasing building insurance against the cost of rebuilding your house if it was damaged or destroyed.
If you’re a tenant, renting a property, you won’t need buildings insurance as it will be up to your landlord to take out the policy. It would still be worth taking out contents insurance, though, to protect your belongings.
You should have buildings insurance in place at the point of exchanging contracts with the seller of the property.
However, contents insurance should be done prior to moving into your new house as this will cover your belongings if they get damaged or lost during the moving process.
Accidental damage occurs when there’s a one-off unintentional accident that impairs the structure of your property. This could be anything from bursting a pipe to kicking a ball through your window.
If you want full cover for accidental damage, you will usually need to buy it as an add-on policy to your buildings insurance.
Where accidental damage is covered by your building insurance as standard, it tends to be very limited. For example, it might only cover fixed glass or sanitary fittings.
Yes, buildings insurance does protect your property against any damage caused by water or oil from leaking pipes or heating systems.
In most instances, buildings insurance will only partially cover any damage caused to your roof.
The only cases in which complete roof repairs might be covered by your buildings insurance is if you have a specific cause of roof damage written into your policy. For example, you could specify full roof repair coverage in the event of a storm.
Yes, your windows are covered by building insurance. Your policy will cover the cost to repair damage to or rebuild the structure of your home - that includes its windows.
Usually, buildings insurance only covers any permanent fixtures and fittings, such as fitted kitchens.
Most standard building insurance policies will cover cracks in walls caused by subsidence, as long as your home hasn’t been affected by subsidence before.
If the cracks in your walls aren’t caused by subsidence, it is unlikely that your buildings insurance will cover any repairs.
Block of flats buildings insurance will provide cover for all major risks, including fire, theft and flood.
When purchasing building insurance for a flat, you should consider every option, such as accidental damage, leaks, theft or fire damage, and make sure you apply this to the flats themselves as well as any other shared spaces you’re responsible for.
No, any loss or damage to external features are not covered by buildings insurance, unless the building is also affected at the same time by the same event. This includes loss or damage to domestic fixed fuel-oil tanks, swimming pools, tennis courts, drives, footpaths, patios and terraces, walls, gates and fences.
No. Unlike tiles, wood and laminate flooring, which will be covered by your buildings insurance, your carpets will be covered by your home contents insurance.
Yes, most building insurance policies will cover the cost of damage to your property caused by subsidence. However, this is often limited to the house itself - it won’t include patios, garden walls, driveways and swimming pools.
The excess for subsidence damage also tends to be higher than that for other areas of the policy - sometimes as much as £1,000.
Underpinning is the process of strengthening the foundation of a property.
If your house needs underpinning as a result of damage to the exterior, for example through subsidence, then your buildings insurance should cover it.
However, if your house needs underpinning because you want to change the structure property, such as adding a new extension, it won’t be covered by your policy.
Yes, flood cover is standard as part of buildings insurance, and is widely available for most homes - even those in areas considered to be of high flood risk.
However, if you do live in a high-risk area, or have been flooded in the past, you should check your policy carefully before purchasing as some will add exclusions or high excesses that are easily overlooked.
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