Protecting your home

There are various ways we can protect our homes from the following:


Smoke alarms really do save lives. Fit them throughout your home and test them regularly, replace batteries every year. If in doubt, most local fire services will visit your home free of charge to advise on where you should put smoke alarms and to point out any fire hazards you should be aware of.

Kitchens are where most home fires start. Use a thermostatically controlled deep fat fryer if you regularly cook with oil. Be careful with lit candles and cigarettes, make sure they are properly extinguished and never smoke in bed. Don’t overload electrical sockets. Use fireguards with open fires and have your chimney swept regularly. Remember to switch off electrical equipment at the socket – preferably don’t leave TVs or stereos on standby – and unplug them when on holiday. Make sure bonfires and barbecues are a safe distance from fences, trees, shrubs, sheds and your home.


Security locks on doors and windows are your first line of defence. Make sure they’re adequate and use them even if you are just popping out for five minutes! 5 lever mortice deadlocks can provide additional security for doors and key operated locks for windows – double glazing is recommended for windows too. Fit outside doors with toughened glass.

When on holiday, cancel papers and milk and ask someone to collect your post so that there are no tell-tale piles of letters on your doormat. Lock your valuables away and use timed switches for lights. Don’t leave DIY or garden equipment outside, lock it in a shed or in the house. Never leave keys near letterboxes as they could be easily taken without a thief having to get into your home. An alarm from an approved supplier will not only help protect your home, it could also bring down the cost of your premium. Join your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme, or if there isn’t one, why not start one?

Burst pipes

Most burst pipes happen in the winter when the water freezes. Proper insulation and lagging will help protect pipes and tanks in the loft and outside.


Check your radiator valves regularly for leaks. Guttering should be kept clear of leaves and moss and any damaged sections repaired. Damp patches, blistered paint and areas of mildew in your home, could be signs of slow leaks. Keep an eye on washing appliances and make sure they are properly fitted. Check overflows around your home periodically, as well as ball cocks on toilets.

How much building cover do I need?

Many people, when asked how much they’d need to rebuild their home would have little or no idea. Your estate agent’s valuation report is a good estimate for the amount of cover you need. Be careful not to confuse its market value i.e. what you bought it for or could sell it for now, with its rebuild cost, as there could be a big difference between these.

Quite a few companies now offer blanket cover of up to £500,000 or £1 Million Building sum insured and anything from £30,000 to £100,000 Contents cover.. This makes life easier for you because you don’t have to have an exact figure before you can get insurance.

If you have particular valuables that you want extra protection for, mention this when you are choosing your policy or check the ‘specified items’ amount covered in your policy. Some companies will cover certain items at no extra cost.

Most policies will include an excess. This is the amount you will need to pay towards any claim. This can be paid directly to a supplier or deducted from your settlement, but if you are comparing policies make sure you compare the same excess on each one.

Is the cheapest policy always the best?

No not necessarily, it depends what your individual needs are. Look through the policy document carefully to see what is and what isn’t covered. The cheapest policy is usually standard cover.

For contents insurance, think carefully about what you want to cover before you choose the cheapest policy. It might be safer for you to spend a little more on your premium to look after the things that are important to you. For example, if you are a keen cyclist and you own an expensive bike, make sure it’s covered as a specified item. If its value is greater than the single item limit, then it’s common sense to pay a little extra to protect it.

Get new for old

Check that the policy you choose replaces new for old. New for old protects the value of the things you own, so that the full cost of replacing them if they are stolen, or repairing them if they are damaged, will be met.

What is Home Insurance?

Home insurance can mean building insurance, contents insurance or both. Building insurance covers the cost of rebuilding your home should the worst happen. It generally covers you for damage to your home caused by fire, bad weather, natural disasters, damage caused by burglary or attempted burglary, vandalism and subsidence caused mainly by tree roots or ground heave. Coverage will differ between home insurers so it is important to check your policy documents.

Mortgage lenders may require proof of buildings insurance as part of their mortgage offer particularly if you are a first time buyer about to buy a house. The amount of buildings insurance you take out needs to cover the cost of replacing the building itself and all permanent fixtures and fittings inside it. A Fitted Kitchen or bathroom is an example of a permanent fixture.

As well as the actual property, buildings insurance can include garages, sheds, driveways, swimming pools, paths, walls and fences. Not all policies have the same coverage for all these items as standard individual policies do differ in what they include.

Contents insurance usually covers all the contents in your home against theft or attempted theft, fire, water damage, storms or floods, smoke, lightning and malicious damage. Contents refers to all the things in your home that are not permanent and fixed, such as sofas, tables, TV’s, Home Entertainment equipment etc.

Standard contents insurance cover often works out to be the cheapest, but does not cover you for every eventuality if you need to make a claim. Adding accidental can cover you for any unforeseen accidents in your house.

Some insurance companies include cover for contents in your garden too – but the amount of cover can vary greatly.