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Buildings insurance

Buildings insurance protects you against the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it is damage or destroyed. It covers the structure of your home (e.g. the roof, walls and windows) and any permanent fixtures and fittings, such as fitted kitchen units and bathroom suites. Policies may cover garages, greenhouses and garden sheds, although they can vary so check that the policy meets your needs before you buy. 

If your home is damage or destroyed your buildings insurance will cover the cost of: 

  • Repairing the building’s structure, including plasterwork and flooring 
  • Replacing fitted kitchens and bathroom suites 
  • Drying out or decontaminating if required 
  • Alternative accommodation if you home is uninhabitable while repairs are being carried out 
  • Rebuilding the entire property if it is completely destroyed 

It’s important that you get your buildings sum insured right, as this is the maximum your insurer will pay out if you claim. Your building should be insured for the re-building cost (not what you paid for the property or the current market value). Our home rebuild calculator can help you calculate your buildings sum insured, and your insurer should be able to help if you have any further questions.

If, however, your home is not standard construction or is a listed property, then you may need to ask a surveyor to work out the rebuilding cost. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors can help you find a suitable surveyor to assess your property.

Buildings insurance policies cover damage to your home resulting from a range of perils such as: 

Buildings insurance covers a wide range of risks, but it doesn’t cover everything. It is important to read your policy so that you know what is not covered. While general exclusions may vary between policies, you will not usually be covered against: 

  • General wear and tear (everyday things that happen to your property over time, such as carpets wearing thin) 
  • Damage due to lack of maintenance (e.g. roof tiles not being replaced and then the roof leaking when there is a storm) 
  • Mechanical or electrical breakdown, such as a fridge breaking down due to it coming to the end of its useful life 
  • Restricted cover when your home is empty for a long period, often 30 or 60 days, (specified in the policy) or is let to tenants 
  • Any amount over the limits specified in the policy 

Most insurers also provide the following optional extensions: 

  • Accidental damage to your structure – For example, putting your foot through the ceiling or drilling through a pipe causing a leak 
  • Legal expenses cover – Usually gives you access to legal advice, and covers the legal costs of claiming compensation following an accident that was not your fault, as well as the cost of taking or defending other specified legal actions, such as employment or neighbour disputes 
  • Home emergency assistance – This covers the cost of calling a tradesman out to deal with an emergency, such as being locked out of your home. It will cover the repairs and labour and may include overnight accommodation if you cannot stay in your home as a result.  

How do insurers decide the cost of buildings insurance? 

Insurers take into account a variety of factors when calculating a buildings insurance premium such as: 

  • Rebuilding cost – This takes into account the size of your home, if it is terraced, semi-detached or detached and its method of construction. 
  • Likelihood of a claim – If your home is at increased risk, is in an area with a flood risk or is susceptible to subsidence.  
  • Previous claims history