How to choose the best home insurance: a first-time buyer's guide

Buying your first home is an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful one. After all, there will be a lot to organise before you can move in.

One important task is to make sure your property is fully insured so that you are not left out of pocket if your home, or the items inside it, are damaged or destroyed due to fire or flooding.

To help you get started, here’s our guide to first time home buyer insurance...

best home insurance guide illustration
best home insurance guide illustration

What are the different types of home insurance?

There are two main types of home insurance: contents insurance and buildings insurance – and, as a first-time buyer, you’re likely to need both.

Contents insurance

This covers the cost of replacing your household contents if they are damaged, destroyed or stolen. Items can include:

Buildings insurance

This covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding the structure of your property if it’s damaged or destroyed due to fire, flooding or vandalism. This includes the roof, ceilings and walls, as

well as permanent fittings such as your kitchen or bathroom. You can buy both contents and buildings insurance separately, or as part of a combined home insurance policy – which often works out cheaper.

When should I buy home insurance?

You will become legally responsible for your new home as soon as you exchange contracts, and it’s at this point you will need to have buildings insurance in place. 

Buildings insurance will often be a condition of your mortgage offer, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy your policy from your mortgage provider’s preferred insurer. Instead, you’re more likely to get a competitive deal by shopping around and comparing your options carefully. 

Although it won’t be a requirement of your mortgage, it’s also sensible to buy contents insurance before you move into your new home. This will ensure your belongings are protected against loss or damage while in transit on moving day – although your policy may only provide cover if you use a professional removals company.

Keep in mind that if you are buying a leasehold property, such as a flat, you won’t usually need to buy buildings insurance as this should be covered by the freeholder. But it will still be up to you to buy home contents insurance.  

How much does home insurance cost?

How much you pay for home insurance will depend on a number of factors such as:

  • your location and the crime rates in your area
  • the size of your voluntary excess
  • any extras you add to your policy.

The cost of your contents insurance policy will also be determined by the value of your possessions, while for buildings cover, the size of the property, its proximity to water, and the materials used to build it will also be taken into account. 

For each 12-month period you don’t make a claim on your home insurance policy, you may be able to build up a no-claims bonus (usually up to a maximum of five years). This can help to bring down the cost of your premiums each year.

What information do insurers need for a home insurance quote?

When you run a home insurance quote, you will usually be asked for information such as:

  • your name and address
  • your employment status and occupation
  • details of your home, including when your home was built, the date you bought it and the date you’re moving in
  • the value of your belongings 
  • your property rebuild costs
  • whether your home has security features such as a burglar alarm and the types of locks that have been fitted to outside doors.

How do I get the best home insurance quote?

Shop around

A quick and easy way to make sure you’re getting the best deal is to compare your options through Quidco Compare. You could also earn £28 cashback on top. 

Run quotes with and without optional extras

You’ll also have the option to bolt on additional cover to your home insurance policy. It’s worth weighing up whether you need these cover options and how much they will add to your premium. Extras typically include:

  • Accidental damage cover: in the event you spill paint on the carpet or break a window, for example 
  • Home emergency cover: if a pipe bursts or your boiler breaks down, for example
  • Legal cover: covering costs and expenses in the event of legal disputes
  • Out of home cover: protecting items taken outside the home, such as phones or laptops, if they are damaged or stolen.

Don’t base your decision on price alone

As well as looking at the price of your quote, consider other factors such as customer service reviews to see which insurers score highly. 

When you run a quote with us, you’ll also be able to see each insurer’s Defaqto rating. Defaqto is an independent financial research company and gives each product on the market a rating of 1 to 5 stars based on the quality and comprehensiveness of the features and benefits offered. 

Pay annually, not monthly

Paying for your home insurance in one go each year will usually work out cheaper than paying in monthly instalments. If you can’t afford to pay in one go, you could consider taking out a zero-interest purchase credit card and spreading the cost interest-free over several months. 

Increase the voluntary excess

When you run a quote with us, you’ll have the option to change your voluntary excess. This is the amount you’ll need to pay towards the cost of any claim you make and increasing it can lower your premiums. Just make sure it is still affordable.

How much should I insure my home for?

It’s important to be as accurate as possible when calculating how much home insurance you need to make sure you’re not left underinsured. For contents insurance, it’s best to go round each room in your home and add up the total value of all your possessions, including high-value jewellery, clothes, tech and furniture. 

For buildings insurance, you’ll need to work out how much it would cost to rebuild your home from the foundations up. Be aware that this is not the same as the market value – the rebuild value is usually less. If you need help, you can use the rebuild calculator provided by the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) of the Royal Institute of Surveyors (RICS). 

How do I buy home insurance?

The best way to buy home insurance is to run a home insurance quotes comparison and look for the quote that offers the right level of cover for you at the best price. Remember to do this each year your policy renews to ensure you are always getting the best deal. 

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Compare home insurance with Quidco

Like any other comparison site, we work with the best providers to find you great deals. We'll also give you £28 cashback on top when you take out a policy.