Insurance for your home

Next to family, your home and belongings are probably the most important things. While insurance can’t replace things of sentimental value, it can help with the cost of repairing your home or replacing your possessions.

There are different insurance policies depending on whether you have your own home or are in Service accommodation.

Service accommodation

If you’re in Single Living Accommodation - you are responsible for looking after your personal possessions. While it’s not compulsory, contents insurance helps replace them in the event of fire or theft (see below).

If you’re in Service Family Accommodation - in addition to arranging contents insurance for your personal possessions (see below), you are strongly recommended (in accordance with JSP 464) to arrange Licence to Occupy insurance up to a maximum of £20,000. This specialist insurance covers your potential liability incurred as a result of damage to your SFA caused by you or your family. Standard home insurance policies do not provide cover . 

If you own your own home

If you own your own home, you’ll need to have buildings cover just in case your home is damaged and needs a repair. It’s usually a condition of your mortgage and, if you’re a landlord, it’s your responsibility – not your tenants.

You’ll also want to have contents insurance to protect your personal possessions.

Money fitness tip

Take a look at our Insurance checklist to help you  get the right policy.

Contents insurance

This covers loss or damage to all the things in your home which are not part of the structure or the building.

What does contents insurance cover?

All your personal belongings – in other words anything not physically attached to the building – will usually be covered for loss or damage, including:

  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Jewellery
  • Electrical goods

Different policies offer different levels of cover but generally you'll be covered against theft, fire and flood.

Accidental damage cover is usually optional so don’t assume it’s included in your policy.

Personal possessions cover is also an optional extra. This will cover items you take outside your home like cameras, jewellery, laptops and mobile phones. 

Some insurance policies will also cover you when you go abroad (on holiday) so if you lose or damage your possessions while you’re away, you’ll be able to claim for them on your contents insurance. This is usually an optional extra which you pay a higher premium for.

There’s usually an excess on your contents insurance policy which means you’ll need to pay a minimum amount every time you claim. If you make a claim for £300 for example, and your excess is £250, you’ll only get £50 from your insurer.

Contents insurance is different from Kit insurance. See the Money Advice Service's website for more information on finding the right home contents cover.  

Buildings insurance

This covers damage to the structure of your home such as the walls, roof and floors.

It usually covers damage to fixtures and fittings too. So if you’ve got a fitted kitchen or bathroom, your buildings insurance is likely to pay for any repairs you need.

What does buildings insurance cover?

It covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it’s damaged. Policies vary from one insurer to another in exactly what events you’re covered for, but generally speaking, you’ll be able to claim if your home is damaged by: 

  • Natural events such as storms and floods
  • Fire, smoke, explosions
  • Vandalism 
  • Subsidence
  • Car and lorry collisions 
  • Falling trees
  • Water damage from leaking pipes  
  • Oil leaking from your heating system

Depending on the type of policy you get, it may also cover other structures around the home such as garages, outside walls and driveways.

What buildings insurance doesn’t cover

 You won’t be covered for general wear and tear and each policy will have its own exclusions (things you won’t be able to claim for). These often include damage caused by: 

  • Leaking gutters
  • Frost (unless it causes damage from a burst pipe)
  • Some pests (for example, insects and birds)

You can’t normally claim for loss or damage which happens while your property has been left unoccupied for more than 30 or 60 days. Many insurers will let you arrange cover if you let them know in advance.

Storm damage to gates and fences is also unlikely to be covered.

Exclusions vary from one policy to the next so make sure you read the policy carefully. 

See the Money Advice Service's website for more information on choosing the right level of cover.

Making a claim

If you need to make a claim on your policy, see Making a claim.

Last reviewed: 04/04/2018