The Ultimate Guide to Insuring Your New Home

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the labyrinth that is buying a new home. Now that you’ve got your new keys burning a hole in your pocket, but there’s one more thing for your list before you’ve got all the boxes packed and unloaded in your new place – you will need home insurance for your new home.

Is home insurance the same as buildings and contents cover?

Home insurance is comprised of 2 parts - buildings and contents. The walls, roof, floors, and anything that’s made up of the structure of the house make up the building. These are covered in the case of a storm or fire with building insurance. What fills your house - including televisions, clothes, carpets and furniture are contents. You can claim for these if they’re damaged in a flood or fire in the same way as the building, but they’re also covered in the case of theft, loss or accidental damage.

Home and contents insurance is not required by law, however if you have a mortgage, your lender may require that you obtain buildings insurance. This will guarantee that you are covered for rebuilding expenses if your house is destroyed, say by a fire.

These both differ from personal belongings cover, as this is cover for your personal items (e.g. mobile phone, laptop or bike) while you are in or away from your home.

Can I change my home insurance policy mid-term?

It is possible to change your home insurance mid-year, but you may have to pay a penalty if you do so before your term is up. Check your policy's cancellation provisions and your renewal date by reviewing your insurance declaration page if you want to be certain. Verify that the minimum coverage needs of your mortgage lender are met while you shop for a new insurance.

After selecting a policy, be sure to let your lender know as well. Be sure to note, you must wait until your new house insurance policy goes into effect before cancelling your old one. Any coverage gap, even for a single day, would be noted on a credit report.

When should I buy home insurance?

Make sure you’ve got your home insurance policy in place before you take responsibility for the property. In some cases, this may be a legal requirement. As far as the contents of your house, don’t wait until your moving day to make sure it’s covered - our policies cover your contents should they be damaged in transit provided they are packed and moved with a professional mover.

Self-build insurance is a specific type of home insurance that provides protection for you, your builder, your construction site, and your new home that's under construction. A self-build insurance policy is required to cover your building project if you intend to build a home or add an addition to your existing property. Your social and employer obligations, as well as your own home and construction supplies, are all covered by a self-declared insurance policy. The home will then remain insured on-site for the duration of building, up until it is finished and put into use.

How to value your home for insurance

When buying home insurance, you'll have to configure a “rebuild value figure” on your home. This is the cost to completely rebuild the house. Keep in mind that this isn’t the same amount that you would have paid for your home, as that includes the cost of the land as well.

It is also important to remember that if you extend or improve your home, you may need to increase the buildings cover on your policy. If you do not have an estimate for your rebuild costs, The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland has a handy online tool that can give you an instant estimate.

Something you should include, however, is the cost of replacing the contents of you home. Estimating your current possessions can be a bit tricky, as you’ll need to remember that this means you’ll need to determine how much things would cost to replace rather than how much they are currently worth. This is called the ‘sum insured’. Your television may have lost value, but if you have to replace it you will be paying for a brand new television.

What does home insurance cost?

Contents insurance will depend mainly on the location of your new home, the final amount calculated as your ‘sum insured’, as well as any extras you choose to add on (such as accidental damage cover). You will also save on your premium if you’ve never made a claim with a previous insurer. This is known as your no claims discount (NCD).

In terms of buildings insurance, your premium is mainly related to your home's rebuild value, and whether you live in an area prone to flooding. Again, this is the insurer taking a view on how likely you are to make a claim and how much it would cost if you do. The OPW have an information portal providing location specific access to flood risk and flood management information, including flood risk management maps.

How can you save on your home insurance?

If your home insurance is a bit higher than you’d like, there are a few extra tricks to getting a lower quote. From bundling your home and car insurance to insuring some extra burglar and fire alarms, you can also benefit from certain smart devices you add to your home. 

Give yourself peace of mind and ensure that your home and contents are fully insured in your time of need. Get an online home insurance quote with AIG for great benefits and discounts.

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