Since the government's recent increase in insurance premium tax to 12%, homeowners are now paying more for home insurance
To help you afford this vital protection for your home, HomeProtect has compiled a helpful list of "secret" ways to save money.
If you don't have time to read the whole list, the most important tip is this: Only phone your insurance company to notify them of damage or loss if you are definitely covered and intend to make a claim. This might save you money in the future - read number 21 below to find out more.
1. Don't just buy insurance from your mortgage provider or bank, even though it may appear compulsory to buy their own home insurance policy. This is simply not true - you can buy home insurance from any provider.
2. Combining your buildings and contents cover in one policy is less expensive than buying two separate policies.
3. Do you really need additional cover options? If you have young children or you tend to have butter fingers, accidental damage might be worth buying. Also if you regularly take gadgets, jewellery or expensive handbags out of the house then buying contents cover away from the home would be worthwhile too. But if not, avoid buying the additional extras to save some money.
4. Accurately calculate the property rebuild cost using the BCIS Rebuild calculator for homes built with brick or stone walls and tile or slate roofs. If your home is built with any other materials, or it was built before 1850 or it's a listed building you will need to ask a chartered surveyor to calculate an accurate rebuild cost for you, every few years. If you insure the property for too much you will be paying too much in premium (although if you under-insure the property, a claim might not be fully paid as insurers often reduce the payout in proportion to the level of under-insurance).
5. Don't over insure your belongings, be very careful to calculate the cost to replace each item in your home for a new replacement at today's prices. In 2017, an average British home of 2 adults and 2 children insured their contents for roughly £45,000. If you over-estimate the value of your contents, you might end up paying too much (as with your property, if you under-insure your contents a claim payout might be reduced in proportion to the level you under-insure them for).
6. Paying annually - it's cheaper in the long run to pay upfront in one go rather than monthly.
7. Increase the voluntary excess to reduce the premium. This does mean that if you make a claim you will have to pay for the excess part of the total claim value yourself. If you can afford it, put the total excess amount in a high interest savings account, just in case you need to make a claim.
8. Don't insure things you've sold or disposed of during the year, especially if the items are high value or high risk such as laptops and mobile phones. Taking them off the policy may reduce the premium.
9. Avoid double-insuring your gadgets! If you have mobile phone insurance with your mobile phone provider, or warranty cover for laptops and tablets and the policy covers theft and damage too, then don't insure these items on your home insurance policy. Always try to claim on your gadget insurance policy before your home insurance policy, as this won't affect your home insurance no claims bonus.
10. Insure your grown up children's belongings while they are away at college or university under your own contents insurance policy, meaning that you don't need to buy a separate student insurance policy.
11. Add cover for contents away from the home within your contents insurance to avoid buying a separate travel insurance policy for short trips away from home.
12. Your occupation can affect your premium as insurers see certain professions as higher-risk. So make sure you get this right when inputting details as it is easy to get this wrong.
Cut the cost in the future by preventing claims now
13. Are you an active member of your neighbourhood watch scheme? If you are, some insurers may provide a discounted premium.
14. Make sure that someone is at home overnight to deter night-time thieves. If you work night-shifts and having someone else at home while you're at work isn't feasible then leave the bathroom light on while you're out and use timer switches for lights and a radio in other rooms. The most convincing way to appear as though you're at home is to buy a 7-day variable light switch timer, so that the lights are switched on and off at different times every day.
15. Use a home security app to control lighting and heating from your smartphone, while you're not at home. You'll be able to switch lights on and off and give the impression that someone is at home. Handy if you're going to be out during the hours of darkness.
16. Having a gravel driveway and path up to the house deters thieves because the crunching noise of the gravel underfoot is too noisy for an opportunist burglar.
17. Fit a burglar alarm to prevent thieves targeting your home as a soft-target. If you are going to do this, it's worth using a monitored alarm service so that you don't have to personally deal with a burglar. Having a NSI, NACOSS, SSAIB or BSIA burglar alarm may decrease the premium cost . You do need to be careful to always set the alarm when you're out to be covered in the event of a claim. If your alarm system can be set up to "zone" the house into different areas, then all areas not in use overnight should also be alarmed before you go to bed. Make sure you change your alarm code regularly.
18. Get the right locks installed on all accessible doors. On the main external doors in the property, the door locks should conform to British Standard BS3621 to be eligible for a discount. Check the metal lock faceplate on the edge of the door to look for a kitemark and BS3621 printed on the plate. If you find those, then your door lock conforms to the British Standard.
19. Insulating pipes will help prevent a frozen burst pipe claim in the cold winter months.
To claim or not to claim
20. Only report claims that you know you are covered for and that you truly need to claim for, because any reported loss or damage is likely to be logged on your claims record even if you don't actually progress the claim. All claims data is stored on a centralised database held by the Motors Insurers' Bureau (MIB), and Experian are a nominated supplier who load information on to the database. This data is used to calculate the risk of something owned by you or your family being damaged, stolen or lost; if you have reported many of these types of events then the premiums will increase. Rather than phoning the insurance company to ask if you're covered, the safest way to assess whether you can claim or not, is to read the insurance provider's policy booklet and your own individual policy schedule, from this you will be able to determine whether you can claim for the incident or not.
21. Try not to make multiple claims. The longer you don't make a claim for, the more likely it is that your premium will stay low. Making multiple claims in a short period of time will have a significant effect on your premium as insurers will consider you a higher risk. Some insurers offer a no claims discount which can be up to 50% on premiums after five years of not claiming.
Shane Leivers, Director of Product and Customer at HomeProtect states "Helping customers is at the forefront of everything we do. We hope that by sharing our knowledge will make it easier for customers to afford home insurance and protect the things that matter the most to them."
22. Get on the electoral roll if you're paying monthly, as some insurance providers use this data source when credit-checking you for a Direct Debit arrangement. If your details can't be found on the electoral roll, the insurance provider may charge a fee or increase the premium. In England, Scotland and Wales you can register for the electoral roll online. In Northern Ireland you can download and print out a paper form.
23. Read the Policy schedule and the Policy booklet carefully before you buy to make sure you're happy with what's included. These documents tend to be long and wordy, so focus on the cover levels, any exclusions and the excesses payable - this will cover most of your needs.