What does home insurance cover? Expert explains different types of cover

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  • It sounds simple enough but when it comes to home insurance, the specifics of what does home insurance cover is often confusing. Principally home insurance is divided into two main categories – buildings insurance and contents insurance. Both are insurances for the home and it can be easy to mix the two up when talking about them both as ‘home insurance’. 

    However the two are actually very different, as our experts explain. We’ll clarify the difference between the two types of home insurance cover that every household needs.

    What does home insurance cover?

    Image credit: Future PLC

    ‘Home insurance is divided into two main categories – buildings insurance and contents insurance,’ explains Sarah Applegate, Data Lead at Aviva General Insurance. While both cover homes, the two are not to be confused because they both do very different things. ‘Buildings insurance is different to home contents insurance,’ Sarah explains. ‘Buildings insurance covers the elements which make up the main structure of the home. Contents insurance is designed to cover the possessions within your home. These include things such as furniture and furnishings, clothes, TVs and tech equipment.’

    Ask yourself, ‘do I need home insurance to cover my property or just my belongings?’ If you’re not the freeholder of the property, you most likely won’t need buildings insurance – contents insurance should be sufficient.

    ‘Most home insurance policies, with any provider, operate in similar ways and cover broadly the same items,’ Sarah advises.  ‘But policies do vary from one insurance provider to another, so it’s always best to read the small print and know what to look out for.’ 

    ‘It’s always worth checking with your provider. If you have any queries or concerns, it’s always sensible to check the terms of your policy or speak to your insurer.’ 

    Does home insurance cover water leaks?

    ‘Both types of home insurance – buildings and contents – normally cover the damage caused by water leaks,’ Sarah explains. ‘Aviva claims data shows that ‘escapes of water’ are one of the most common causes of claim amongst home insurance customers.’

    ‘Home insurance covers the damage caused by a water leak and often covers reasonable costs to remove any part of the internal structure of the home needed to find the source of the leak. So in other words, if a plumber needs to cut through a ceiling or remove tiles to get to a leaking pipe, this is often covered.’ The insurer may also cover the costs of ‘making good’ after the leak has been fixed. As always, it’s worth checking the small print.

    Shower over bath with monochrome tiles wall

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson

    Will home insurance cover plumbing?

    Water leaks and plumbing emergencies are not one the same thing. As Sarah explains, ‘Home insurance usually covers the damage caused by water leaks. This could be water from a burst pipe, but it won’t necessarily cover plumbing emergencies or boiler breakdowns as standard.’

    ‘Standard home insurance is different to “home emergency cover”. This would provide cover in the event of a plumbing emergency, such as a blocked drain or toilet. Boilers are also sometimes covered as part of this home emergency add-on. Some insurers offer home emergency cover as an optional extra to their home buildings or contents cover – or as a standalone product.’

    Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from rain?

    ‘Home insurance can cover water damage from rain, but it is dependent on how that rain water entered the property,’ warns Ryan Fulthorpe, home insurance expert at gocompare.com*. ‘If, due to poor upkeep and maintenance of the property rain water is able to damage the property, then Insurers may class this as wear and tear and not cover this incident.’

    ‘However if the rain water has come in through a storm event with wind removing roof tiles leaving the property unprotected this could be an incident covered under your policy.’

    Is there a home insurance that covers everything?

    ‘Home insurance providers offer an array of product offerings,’ explains Ryan. ‘The best way to make sure you are getting the cover you need is to use a price comparison website, like GoCompare. This allows you to compare insurance offerings to select the cover that is right for the individual circumstances.’

    Does home insurance cover bad workmanship?

    ‘It’ss unlikely damage caused by bad workmanship be that, maintenance, repairs, or renovation will be covered under your buildings and contents insurance,’ says Ryan. ‘However the contractors should have liability insurance to cover anything that goes wrong.’

    ‘If it is damage caused by DIY, accidental damage cover may cover the incident but do check with the insurer.’

    Does house insurance cover garden walls?

    Country garden with brick wall and church view

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    ‘With the garden falling within the boundaries of your home buildings insurance it will usually cover the structures within that, therefore including garden walls,’ Ryan explains. ‘Consumers can check their policy documentation to understand any possible exclusions or speak directly to insurers.’

    Like with all things home and insurance related, get everything in writing for clarity. Should any claims arise in the future – you’re covered. 

    *Ideal Home and Go Compare are part of Future plc.

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