Get it covered - a guide to insurance

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With so many different types of insurance and so many different providers, getting covered can be confusing. From home, life, travel and car insurance here are some tips on what to look out for...

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Common types of insurance

Building
If you want to protect your home then there are two types of insurance that you need to think about. The first of these is building insurance. This covers your house from any kind of accidental damage that will the require building work. This will usually be a necessity if you have a mortgage.

Contents
This type of insurance will protect your valuables from accident or theft. So electrical equipment, jewellery, white goods, furniture and clothing can form part of the items covered. You need to decide whether you want to cover your possessions in a new for old policy or an indemnity policy that replaces like for like. You may be able to save money by combining both these types of insurance.

Car insurance

You need to have car insurance in the UK by law. You will need to decide whether you want the legal minimum, third party cover. This covers you for any damage to other vehicles or injuries to other people but not for yourself. For more protection you could go for a fully comprehensive policy. This way all parties are covered no matter whose fault it is. The cost of your policy will depend on the vehicle you drive, your address, your age and your gender.

Medical insurance
It can be worth getting private medical insurance that will help you get quick treatment and bypass the NHS queues. Private medical insurance should be thought of as a useful supplement to NHS treatment. You will find it difficult to get cover for any pre-existing medical problems and also to get cover for certain medical conditions like HIV or infertility.

Travel insurance
Getting covered for your holiday or travel experience could save you from a disaster. Many European countries will be covered under the E111 scheme which will help you should you need emergency treatment. However, if your destination is the US for example, you will find any medical treatment very expensive, so good cover is a must. If you're going to be doing anything potentially dangerous, such as scuba diving, skiing or rock climbing, make sure it's covered in the policy.

Some advice when it comes buying insurance:

Shop around - don't just choose the first quote you get. Try the comparison websites and remember to use all of them. This can drastically reduce your costs. Even then make sure you carefully compare the products offered as the subtle differences can make all the difference.

Only buy the cover you need – remove any unnecessary extras and check that you are actually covered. Is there anything that could make you ineligible?

Be careful when signing up for household contents insurance, items of value are not usually covered unless you individually list them. Jewellery is a good example. Check with the insurance company whether you should list and take photos of any valuable collections, such as DVDs, rare comics or antiques. Also make sure front (and internal doors if it's a shared entrance) have the right locks fixed under the policy.

It is best to be as honest as possible, companies will usually find out if you have failed to declare something that invalidates your policy.

Read the policy fully – if it doesn't sound like what you are after check with the provider before proceeding.

Ask before you buy – you can always save your quotes online and come back later.