A beginner’s guide to home insurance

 

It’s natural to want to insure your property. After all, it’s more than just bricks and mortar; it’s also your home.

When you buy a house, buildings cover is typically one of the conditions of the mortgage. But a surprising amount of people don’t take out contents insurance at the same time, leaving a big hole in their future financial security.

The key differences between buildings and contents
The main thing a buildings policy covers is the physical property itself, as well as all the permanent fixtures such as fitted kitchens. You can also include cover for outbuildings such as greenhouses, garages and sheds. Typically a buildings policy will cover damage caused by flood, fire, subsidence, theft, storms or malicious damage.

Contents insurance is the sister product and is often taken up alongside buildings cover. This protects against damage and loss of valuable possessions. Roughly speaking, these are the items you would take with you if you moved, such as furniture, goods, equipment, electrical items, and personal expensive items.

It’s easy to underestimate the value of your contents
Your house may be the most expensive purchase you ever make, which makes it easy to assume that it is the only thing worth protecting. But it is common to underestimate how much you have accumulated in your home. Without contents insurance, you might find out exactly how much when it is already too late.

Some people categorised by providers as high net worth, might not necessarily label themselves as such. But when we sit down and work through exactly what you have to protect, we find people are often surprised. Whether you have fine art, large luxury goods, or small but equally expensive items such as jewellery, we will be able to find a policy that works for you.

Working with landlords
There are plenty of options for landlords when it comes to home insurance. Whether you are just looking for buildings cover or wish to ensure the contents of your property are protected as well, we will be able to help you find the right cover. As well as accidental damage cover and legal expenses, landlords also have the option of rent protection and emergency cover.

Staying flexible
No matter your circumstances, our providers have a range of building and contents products that can be tailored to work for you. You can choose to add options such as alternative accommodation, accidental damage, personal possessions cover, home emergency cover, or legal expenses cover.

We can work with you on choosing the right extras and features that fit not just your circumstances, but your budget as well. We will help ensure you only pay for the cover you need!

 

How can you improve your EPC rating?

With new standards on rental properties now in effect, landlords are working hard to ensure theirs are meeting the regulations on self contained flats and houses.

Those that do not could face fines of up to £5,000, unless their property meets the new minimum requirements on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).

What exactly are EPCs?
Energy Performance Certificates, better known as EPCs, let you know how energy efficient a property is. These are colour coded and resemble the sticker you often see attached to appliances such as fridges and freezers. These range from the most efficient “A” rating to the least efficient “G” rating.

EPCs will help a prospective tenant assess the financial running costs of renting a property, including estimates of energy use, fuel costs and CO2 emissions. As of last month, all rental properties must have an EPC rating of “E” or above.

How can landlords make improvements?
If a property is not up to standard, an Energy Assessor will make recommendations to improve the home’s efficiency. EPC ratings only consider permanent fixtures, so although draught excluders will help keep heat in, it won’t count towards your EPC.

Insulation – A really big contributor to a good EPC rating. If your property was built after 1920, it will likely have cavity walls, which means that as well as loft insulation, you may be able to install insulation inside the walls.

Windows – If your property does not have double glazing, this could have a major impact on its EPC rating. Installing double glazing can drastically cut energy bills, by preventing heat lost through windows.

Boilers – Installing a new, energy efficient boiler in the property can greatly affect the EPC rating of a property. This is especially the case if the boiler is over a decade old.

Energy – You may be considering moving to newer, renewable sources of energy for your property. The most common form is solar panels, which can allow the property to store energy, contributing to an improved EPC rating.

Thermal cameras – Some landlords have been using thermal cameras, to see where and how heat is escaping. With new technology available, it is now possible to purchase an attachment for your smart phone to have an instant thermal camera at your fingertips.

Future proofing your property
Landlords who make improvements to their property’s EPC rating could do more than meet the new standards. Having a property with a strong EPC rating will also help it stand out from the crowd, as tenants look to rent an energy efficient home to save costs.

If you are considering making changes to improve your EPC rating, it is always worth seeking professional advice. We work closely with lenders, so we can talk through your plans to make sure the changes do not affect your mortgage in any way.