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How do I reduce the cost of my home insurance?

Saving money on your home insurance doesn't necessarily mean having to scrimp on cover. Follow our guide to see if you can get a better deal on the cover you need.

Keys in door
Investing in decent door locks could pay you back with discounts on your premiums

Buildings, Contents or both?

Before you start, know whether you're needing to buy Buildings, Contents or both. Use our article here if you're not sure. If you need both Buildings and Contents, compare prices for combined policies as well as separate ones.

Do you have a mortgage?

If you have a mortgage, don't feel obliged to insure your buildings with your mortgage provider but by all means give them a try to see if they can offer you competitive cover. Their policies may not be available on comparison websites so check out their own websites for online quotes.

Timing is key

Research shows that getting your quotes about 3 weeks before the start date can help gain bigger discounts on your premiums. You don't need to buy the policy so far in advance, but completing and saving the quote in advance shows the insurer that you're organised. You can then retrieve the quote and buy it nearer the time, but benefit from the discount of getting the original quote earlier.

Don’t pay your premium in instalments (if you can avoid it)

The interest or instalment rate charged to pay monthly can be eye-watering. Insurers will often do a full credit check on you and you’ll enter a formal credit agreement to pay monthly. If you’re happy to do that, why just accept the insurer offer of that high APR? You may be quids in by taking out a loan of your own or even a money transfer on your credit card and paying the insurer in full up front. This way, even if you haven’t managed to secure cheap home insurance you’re not then paying an extra penalty on top. You can check what 0% money transfer cards you might be eligible for before you apply by checking your credit profile for free with ClearScore.

If you're worried about paying for a full year of cover as you know you might need to cancel part way through the year, the rules for refunds should be the same regardless of your payment method. Insurers will also often ask during your quote how you normally pay for your policy. If you're able to answer 'yearly' or 'annually' on your quote you may be rewarded with a cheaper premium next time you're getting quotes.

See if a higher excess will reduce your premium

When you're getting quotes for home insurance, you'll be asked to choose a voluntary excess. The higher the excess you choose, normally the bigger the discount you'll be given off your premium. But don't go mad with it and try a few variations to see what difference it makes. Only choose an excess you'd be comfortable with paying if you needed to make a claim.

Avoid claiming if you can

The whole point of insurance is so you can claim if something goes wrong, right? So what am I on about? The reason a higher excess in the last section can result in premium discounts is because you're essentially self-insuring for anything that happens below that amount. If you've set your excess at £400 and you break your £300 iPad, you're not going to claim as you'd be £100 down.

Not claiming on your policy can also help you earn a No Claim Discount. Not all home insurance policies use or give No Claim Discount, but most will take your claims history into account when you're getting new quotes. If you can say you've had home insurance without claiming, you may see decent reductions in your premium and over time you'll probably save more than you would have gained from putting in a small value claim.

Check your home security

When you get a quote for home insurance, you'll be asked about the types of locks your home has on the doors and windows. As a general rule, the more secure your home is, the less likely you are to experience a break-in and suffer a theft, and insurers reward this with premium discounts. Regional police forces produce some really handy PDF guides like this one by West Yorkshire police which will help you evaluate your home security and identify potential improvements. If you change your home security be sure to update the details on any existing home insurance policy that you have.

Only buy the cover you need

You'll see when you get your quotes that there are loads of options to choose from on home insurance and it can be tempting just to include everything so that all bases are covered should something go wrong. For some people, that's the right thing for them to do and insurers create policy types that will bundle in all the optional extras, and badge them as things like 'Plus', 'Gold' or 'Platinum'.

For others, it could be worthwhile to break a policy into its individual parts and consider what you think you would want to be able to claim for. For example, Contents accidental damage can be one of the most expensive upgrades on a home insurance policy, as it's one of the most common claim types. To claim on this section, you're looking at things like liquid damage to furniture and carpets, knocking the TV off the stand, dropping your laptop or spilling paint down the stairs. These are clearly not everyday occurrences in the majority of households, and when you marry that low frequency with maybe a higher excess, what likelihood are you left with that you're going to need to claim? I'm absolutely not saying accidental damage isn't worth it, because accidents happen and the cost of repairing and replacing items can be high. But for some people the chances of making a claim for it are so remote it might not warrant the extra cost of having the cover every year. You can always add the cover later if your circumstances change, like you have children or upgrade your furniture.

Make sure you're clued up on how sums insured work and choose a policy with appropriate limits. You want to ensure the sum insured is high enough to cover your home and belongings, but there's no point paying for cover that gives way more than you need either.

Shop around

The easiest way to start your shopping around these days is to use one or more of the price comparison websites. These sites will often search dozens of insurers and hundreds of policy types, saving you from keying in your details over and over again, or giving them to someone over the phone. But as I mentioned earlier, not all home insurers are on price comparison websites, so be sure to also check out the likes of Direct Line and NFU Mutual, as well as your mortgage provider (if you have one). If you have loyalty cards it may also be worth checking Tesco Bank and Sainsbury's Bank as you may qualify for bonus points if you insure with them, but always ensure the product meets your needs rather than chasing the extra points.

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