If you're buying a home for the first time or looking to move on to another property, when is the best time to purchase a home insurance policy? In this article, we look at whether you can get a home insurance quote before you exchange, the best way to buy home insurance and things you should consider before purchasing a home insurance policy.
When is the best time to purchase home insurance?
Home insurance is not a legal requirement in the UK but is advisable if you own a property as it can protect against the costs to rebuild your home or replace the contents if they are lost, damaged or stolen. The best time to purchase home insurance is before you have exchanged contracts on a property, as once you have exchanged contracts you legally own a property and are therefore liable if anything goes wrong.
Can I get a home insurance quote before buying a house?
If you are in the process of purchasing a property for the first time it can be difficult to know when is the right time to purchase home insurance, especially as the home buying process can take a long time. When purchasing my property for the first time, we had to get a quote for the insurance to show to our lender as a condition of the mortgage. This quote then expired before we purchased our home so we had to run quotes again in time for the property exchange.
Despite home insurance not being a legal requirement in the UK, most lenders insist that buildings insurance is in place before the exchange of contracts. You can usually get a quote with a provider up to 30 days in advance and it is better to have your insurance in place ahead of exchange so that it is less stressful as the exchange date looms.
Can I transfer my existing home insurance policy?
If you have an existing home insurance policy you may be able to transfer it to your new address but you will need to notify your insurer in plenty of time prior to the date of exchange. If you decide to transfer the existing policy the cost is likely to change as your insurer will consider the size of your new property, the property location and its rebuild value when transferring the policy. In this instance, it may be worth cancelling the policy and shopping around for another quote to see if you can get a cheaper deal. Bear in mind though you may have to pay an early cancellation fee or a fee to amend your policy.
When should I cancel my existing home insurance policy?
If you are choosing to cancel your existing home insurance policy you need to ensure that it is still in place until you transfer ownership of the property on the day that you exchange contracts. It is worth considering, however, that there are sometimes delays in the date of exchange so you may wish to overlap the insurance dates to make sure that you are covered.
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What to consider when buying home insurance
When buying home insurance - particularly for the first time - there are some things that you should consider to ensure you have the right amount of cover. Below we share what to look out for when buying home insurance:
- Home insurance type - There are different types of home insurance; buildings insurance and contents cover. Buildings insurance covers the cost to rebuild your property if it is damaged whereas contents insurance insures the valuables or contents inside your home. There may be different scenarios when you need home insurance too, such as if you are a student or a landlord. Landlords can usually get specific insurance for rental properties and students may be covered on a parent's home insurance policy. For more information on home insurance and the different types, read our article 'What are the different types of home insurance?'
- Rebuild costs - Buildings insurance covers the cost to rebuild your property and not the property's value so bear this in mind when it comes to insuring your property, otherwise you may end up overinsuring and paying more than you need. You may be wondering how to estimate the home insurance cost when buying a house. If you have recently had a survey on the property the surveyor may have estimated the rebuild cost, or you could use the Association of British Insurers' (ABI) handy rebuild cost calculator.
- Policy excess - The policy excess is the amount payable towards a claim and there is usually a compulsory and voluntary amount that needs to be paid. If you choose to increase the voluntary excess amount that you pay in the event of a claim, this could reduce your policy premium cost. Do remember, however, that this is the amount payable upfront in the event of a claim so don't make it unaffordable.
- Shop around - Searching for cost-effective home insurance policies can be arduous, but it is a worthwhile task as it can save you some money. When comparing policies, make sure that you compare policies that are like-for-like to get a fair comparison. Use a comparison site such as Quotezone* to compare multiple policies at once.
- Pay annually - Paying annually can save you money on your home insurance premium as insurers often add a credit charge if you choose to pay monthly, although this does mean that you will need to budget for the cost upfront. Find out more in Damien's video.
Where to buy home insurance
When you purchase a home your mortgage adviser or lender may try to recommend some home insurance providers but it is advisable to shop around as these may not always be the best price. One of the best ways to purchase a home insurance policy is via a comparison site. Comparison sites allow you to compare multiple providers all at once to find the best deal for your situation. We have partnered with Quotezone* so that you can search and compare cheap quotes from over 40 UK home insurance providers. Comparison sites aren't always whole of market however so you could be missing out on some deals directly with insurers such as Direct Line, who are not on comparison sites.
What insurance do I need when buying a house?
Home insurance isn't the only policy that you should consider when buying a house, there are also other personal insurance types such as life insurance, income protection insurance and critical illness cover. These policies can help to cover the cost of your mortgage if you fall ill with a serious illness or are unable to work for a long period of time. Life insurance can also provide financial comfort for loved ones should you die. For more information on the different types of insurance to consider, read our article, 'What insurance do you need when buying a house in the UK?'
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