To help buyers make their decision, we’ve scoured the data to put together our list of the best UK home insurance providers for 2021.
Direct Line Home Insurance - Home Insurance Plus
If you buy a combined contents and buildings Direct Line Home Insurance Plus policy online you can save 35%.
The deal excludes optional extras and the Select Premier policy. Minimum premiums apply.
3 of the best home insurance companies
The rest of the best
In this guide
- Why are these the best home insurance companies?
- Compare three of the best home insurance companies
- What makes a good home insurance policy?
- How much does home insurance cost?
- How to get the right level of home insurance cover
- Specialist home insurance companies
- Best home insurance for flood risk areas
- Home insurance reviews
Why are these the best home insurance companies?
To inform our decision, we’ve collected the latest information from more than 50 home insurance companies using independent expert review site Fairer Finance. We used expert research to determine the quality of both the cover and service provided by each insurer, rather than simply compare by price alone (you can go to comparison sites like Go Compare and Confused.com for this).
The key metrics we considered when comparing insurers were:
- The level of coverage offered by each insurer’s best home insurance product (represented by a ‘Product Rating’ out of 5). We selected only insurers whose Product Ratings for their highest level of coverage were at least 4 out of 5.
- Each insurer’s Customer Experience rating (out of 100), an aggregate of scores for customer happiness, trust, transparency and complaints handling. We only selected insurers with a Customer Experience rating of 60 or above.
- Whether each insurer had garnered a Gold, Silver or Bronze ribbon award from Fairer Finance. Insurers who didn’t receive a ribbon in recognition of their customer service were excluded from our list.
Please note that this is a list of combined home insurance policies — that is, policies which include both buildings and contents cover. If you’re looking for a contents-only plan, you can review our in-depth review of the best contents insurance policies.
Additionally, we examined some specific product features that may be important to home insurance customers. Because home insurance policies can vary significantly between insurers, we used these features to help us determine which insurers provided the best value.
We only considered insurers who could offer the following:
- ‘New for old’ cover — Ensures that if one of your belongings is damaged, lost or stolen, your insurer will replace it with a new item of the same value.
- Cover for keys if lost — Pays out an agreed sum if you lose your keys and have to replace the locks in your house. We only included insurers who provided cover of at least £750.
Lastly, we determined that home emergency cover was an important factor in our rankings. Typically, home emergency cover is often available as an optional extra to home insurance policies, so insurers who included it as standard (such as Direct Line) were ranked more highly than those who didn’t.
Compare three of the best home insurance companies
Direct Line Home Insurance Plus offers unlimited buildings cover and up to £100,000 of contents cover with a £4,000 limit on the value of a single item. Accidental damage is included as standard. It can cover up to £80,000 for alternative accommodation should your home become uninhabitable for a time, as well as rent (under buildings cover), theft from outbuildings (£5,000), contents outside (£2,500) and up to £1,000 per bicycle.
One of the biggest advantages of a Direct Line Plus policy is that it includes home emergency cover as standard. This type of cover is designed to cover the cost of callout charges for emergencies that occur in your home like broken boilers, faulty locks and uncontrollable water leaks, up to £500.
Often, a home insurance policy won’t cover emergency callouts as standard. If you want this included in your plan, Direct Line could be a good option.
Direct Line score of 4.3 out of 5 on Trustpilot across all of its insurance products based on more than 6,000 reviews (as of March 2021), with 64% of users describing their experience as ‘Excellent’. Direct Line home insurance is also rated 4.05 by users on Smart Money People (March 2021).
Nationwide's Home Insurance promises unlimited buildings cover. They’ll pay for repairs to your home — even rebuilding it if necessary —- whatever the cost. Garages, outbuildings, fixtures and fittings like your kitchen or bathroom are included as standard. Policyholders will also get up to £50,000 for alternative accommodation if their home is inhabitable for a period.
Nationwide covers lost keys for up to £750. It also provides up to £5,000 of cover for the theft of belongings for outbuildings. With Nationwide, policyholders get ‘new for old’ cover on their belongings, with an individual item limit of up to £30,000 (if you opt for more than £50,000 contents cover). Things like accidental damage cover, home emergency cover and cover for matching items are available as optional extras to your policy.
Nationwide is currently offering a 25% discount for members (true as of April 2021) who hold and maintain a mortgage, savings or main current account with them. It has been awarded a Gold ribbon by experts at Fairer Finance for its exceptional customer service.
M&S Bank Home Insurance Premier offers unlimited cover on both buildings and contents insurance. What’s more, it also puts no limit on the amount of cover you can get for things like alternative accommodation, replacement locks if you lose your keys, and even theft from outbuildings like sheds or garages.
While home emergency cover is not included as standard, you can add it to your policy as an additional extra, covering up to £1,000 of repairs. However, M&S Bank Premier policy does include accidental damage, ‘new for old’ cover and even pedal cycle cover for bikes at home as standard.
What makes a good home insurance policy?
There are three main types of home insurance:
- Buildings insurance — Covers the cost of repairing damage to the structure of your property (e.g. roof, walls). It can also pay out if you need to rebuild your home. If you live in a rented house or flat, you don’t need to worry about buildings insurance. It’s your landlord’s job to sort that out (though you might want to make sure they have).
- Contents insurance — Covers the belongings inside your home, such as your TV, appliances and furniture. Some contents insurance policies can cover items that you carry with you outside your home too. If you want to cover your belongings, contents insurance is your responsibility whether you own a home or rent a flat.
- Combined buildings and contents insurance — Covers both contents and buildings in one policy.
What to look out for in a home insurance policy
- The amount it pays out for the core features of buildings and contents cover — Insurers will offer different limits for things like the total value of your home’s contents or rebuild costs. If you know you have a lot of expensive belongings, for example, it can be worth paying more for a policy with a higher level of coverage for your contents.
- How quickly companies pay out — It can take anywhere from a couple of days to a few months for an insurer to pay out for your claim. Some insurers offer guarantees on faster payments, though, so if you’re not sure you’d have enough in your savings to cover the initial costs of a big claim, look out for payment periods detailed in customer reviews and make your own assessment.
- How easy the claims process is — Each insurer’s claims process is different; some are streamlined and easy to use while others are quite slow and awkward. You can spot whether a company’s claims process is good or not by examining recent customer reviews. See whether providers have an online claims process too; this gives you another option if the lines are busy.
- How much cover you’re getting for things like valuables, accidental damage or bike cover — Some insurers that offer high limits on core contents and buildings features don’t cover smaller things that could still cost you significantly if you were to claim. Consider whether or not you have any particularly valuable items; if so, look at the small print to see if a home insurance provider will cover its full value. Remember to consider which ancillary covers are most relevant for you when choosing a policy; for example, it could be cheaper to get a home insurance plan that covers your pedal bike for a little bit extra than it is to get separate home and bike insurance policies.
The best home insurance policies also cover alternative accommodation for you and the inhabitants of your home if it needs to be rebuilt. However, it varies widely from company to company. For example, while Nationwide offers up to £50,000 for alternative accommodation on its Home Insurance policy, brands like M&S Bank and John Lewis offer unlimited cover.
While with contents insurance it’s easy to set the level of cover to the value of your possessions, it’s important to know how the content of your home is defined and what part of the policy covers it.
Some companies limit the value of any single item you insure; for example, items worth over £2,000 might need to be declared separately. These items are classed as valuables and there can be separate limits for individual items and the total amount of valuables you own.
Here’s how contents limits can vary by policy using some key insurers as examples:
- HSBC provides up to £50,000 for loss or damage to your belongings, going up to £80,000 on request. Its limit for single items is £1,500.
- M&S Bank offers unlimited cover for content on it’s Premier policy. The single-item limit for valuables is £15,000, with a total limit on specified valuables of £50,000.
- John Lewis offers unlimited cover for contents on its Gold home insurance plan. It covers valuables in the home for up to £40,000.
Bikes are often treated as separate entities to the rest of your home when it comes to insurance. However, some home insurance policies will cover your pedal bike while it’s in your home, while others will even cover it outside.
We’ve looked at the best home insurance for pedal bikes separately because there can be a lot to consider if protecting your bike is a priority.
If you have a particularly valuable bicycle, it may be worth taking out a separate bike policy that can provide more specialist cover. Learn more with our guide to bike insurance.
Comprehensive policies will also provide some level of accidental damage cover for anything you might break or damage in your home. This could be anything from spilling a drink and staining the carpet to drilling through a pipe.
It’s important to check whether or not an insurer includes accidental damage in their policy because it’s often listed as an exclusion, despite how costly it could be. Opting for a slightly more expensive policy that does include accidental damage over a cheaper one that does not could save you a lot of money in the long run.
Cover levels vary but some of the best policies have no limit on claims.
How much does home insurance cost?
According to data published by MoneySuperMarket in January 2021, the average premiums for a combined buildings and contents insurance policy stand at £144 per year. It’s reported that this is a rise of 26% in the four years since 2016, when the average cost was just £115. Buildings-only policies typically cost £111 while contents insurance stands at £65.
You might pay more or less than that depending on a number of factors that influence the cost, such as the size of your home and where you live.
For more information, check out our in-depth guide to the cost of home insurance.
The pros and cons of using comparison sites
With the rise in popularity of comparison sites, many people simply look for the cheapest price when choosing a home insurance company. While it’s easy to believe that the most affordable quotes are the best deals, it’s often not the case.
- The good: more competition — They make home insurance reviews much more accessible and transparent and they encourage competition between insurance companies, which in turn pushes premiums down.
- The bad: more bad policies — All the additional competition has led to some insurance companies creating cheap policies that place them at the top of the comparison sites' price-based lists, but these policies may not offer sufficient cover for many customers’ needs.
How to get the right level of home insurance cover
Know your home's rebuild value
With buildings insurance, you need to insure your house for the amount it will cost to rebuild. You should note that this is likely to differ from its market value. It can be less than you expect because the market value of the property is often much higher than the cost of the construction.
You can use the free calculator provided by the independent Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) to work out the rough rebuild cost of your home.
Don't underestimate the value of your home's contents
For contents insurance, it is important not to under-insure; that is, to buy a policy that covers less than the total value of your possessions. Many people simply under-estimate the value of everything they’ve built up over the years while others forget that some items, like inherited jewellery or collections, can increase in value.
To be safe, go through your house room by room, round everything up and don’t forget about smaller items, such as clothes and toiletries. They may not be worth much individually but if the worst happens and you have to replace everything in your house, you will be surprised how quickly it adds up.
Get dedicated policies for high-risk items
It is possible to get separate, dedicated policies for high-risk, high-value items such as gadgets, watches and engagement rings. Compare the price of these individual policies to the cost of adding them to your contents cover. One of the key benefits of taking out a separate policy is that your no claims bonus would be unaffected if you claim for a high-value item.
Tell your insurer if your home is unoccupied
Empty homes – even if only temporarily empty – may not be covered by standard home insurance policies. Typically, if your home is left unoccupied for more than 30 days it may invalidate your policy. You can get a separate policy for unoccupied properties or holiday homes, but either way, be sure to tell your insurance company if no one will be living in your house for more than 30 days.
Specialist home insurance companies
Some home insurance providers are designed for specific sections of the population. Here is a selection of some of the best specialist insurers and what they cover.
- HomeProtect — A specialist home insurance provider for people in flood-risk areas. Its policies include basic legal expenses and home emergency cover as standard. HomeProtect also covers unoccupied properties, holiday homes, homes at risk of flooding, and even listed buildings. Read our in-depth guide to listed building insurance to learn more.
- Covea — Offers exceptionally high levels of cover for expensive and non-standard home contents.
- Saga — Provides home insurance policies designed specifically for people over 50. Learn more about home insurance for over 50s in our in-depth guide.
- NFU Mutual — Caters almost exclusively to homes in rural areas. It offers a Bespoke policy designed for high-value properties with more complex insurance needs.
Home insurance reviews
Learn more about the best home insurance companies and find out what their customers think by reading our expert reviews.
- John Lewis Finance Home Insurance Review
- Hiscox Home Insurance Review
- M&S Home Insurance Review
- More Than Home Insurance Review
- LV= Home Insurance Review
- AvivaPlus Home Insurance Review
- Churchill Home Insurance Review
- Tesco Home Insurance Review
- Saga Home Insurance Review
- Home Protect Insurance Review
- Policy Expert Home Insurance Review
- Direct Line Home Insurance Review
- Endsleigh Home Insurance Review
- Allianz Home Insurance Review
- Debenhams Home Insurance Review
- Age Co Home Insurance Review
- The AA Home Insurance Review
- AXA Home Insurance Review
- Post Office Home Insurance Review
- Swiftcover Home Insurance Review
- Intelligent Insurance Review
- Halifax Home Insurance Review
- Hastings Direct Home Insurance Review
- Co-op Home Insurance Review
- Esure Home Insurance Review
- IGO4 Home Insurance Review
- Legal & General Home Insurance Review
- Covea Home Insurance Review
- Privilege Home Insurance Review
- Prudential Home Insurance Review
- Sainsbury's Bank Home Insurance Review
- Nationwide Home Insurance Review
- Zurich Home Insurance Review
- Admiral Home Insurance Review
- Swinton Home Insurance Review
- NFU Mutual Home Insurance Review
- Fresh Home Insurance Review
- Peacock Home Insurance Review