Four ways cut the cost of home insurance

Four ways to cut the cost of home insurance

What's the greatest risk to your home and prized possessions? Burglars perhaps, maybe even flooding if you live in the right area.

Well it turns out the greatest threat are the things we rely on every day.

Home appliances, like cookers, dishwashers and freezers, are the focus of this years' Home Safety Week because they can pose a serious fire risk.

In fact, electrical fires account for 52 % of home fire claims, according to insurer NFU Mutual, while Co-op Insurance reported a 35% increase for the same kind of claim in the last 12 months.

With this in mind, we look at ways to reduce your home and contents premiums, make sure you have the right cover and, most importantly, protect yourself.

Smoke and fire alarms

As this years' Home Safety Week focuses on electrical house fires, let's start with the easiest thing you can do.

Installing smoke and fire detectors is a cheap, easy and effective way to protect your home. Not only that, but it can also reduce your insurance premiums.

Remember to test them regularly and replace the batteries.

Get the right cover

Getting the right insurance policy is easier said than done. It is really easy to end up with a load of extra cover you don't really need, which adds to the cost of your premium.

While these extras can be useful, a quick way to save on your policy is to be realistic about what you need.

For example, accidental damage cover is very useful, but can add 25% to the cost of your insurance.

Under and over

The first step to finding the right insurance policy is making sure you're getting the cover you need.

While undervaluing the things in your home might get you lower premiums, it means you'll end up with less than you expected if the worst should happen.

At the same time, overvaluing means you'll end up paying more in premiums.

Get a proper estimate and pay what you need to. Not more, not less.

Ways to pay

If you're looking to cut the cost of home and contents insurance, there are a few easy things you can do straight away.

Make sure you shop around to get the best deal and don't just automatically renew every year and pay premiums all in one go, rather than by monthly instalments.

You might also save money by getting combined buildings and contents cover. However, sometimes the best deal is by getting them separately through different insurers.

What if you're renting

Things are quite different if you rent rather than own your home. The landlord will be required to have buildings insurance, as well as carry out fire risk assessments, install carbon monoxide detectors and have gas safety certificates.

However, your possessions might not be covered, so you might want to look into your own insurance, and it is still worth regularly checking the smoke and fire alarms to make sure they are working.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

10 property hotspots
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10 property hotspots

In Scotland, Edinburgh is seen as a city with huge growth potential. In 2014, prices in Edinburgh were up 10% in a post referendum boom that shows little sign of slowing down.

Local agents are not expecting quite such stellar growth for the next 12 months, but they think price rises will be well above the average predicted for the whole country.

Rightmove named this as the area where it expects house prices to grow the most over the next five years. It says that over this period there will be a huge number of people moving out of London in order to afford to get onto the property ladder. They want a reasonable commute combined with plenty of attractions in the local area, and Southampton offers all this. With relatively affordable housing stock, it's a prime candidate for growth.

Luton was Rightmove's candidate for the second biggest house price rises over the next five years. It emphasised that this isn't a mater of opinion, it is the result of crunching the data.

Luton is another major beneficiary of the move out of London, and while it is arguably not as attractive a place to live as Southampton, it's only 23 minutes into central London - which rivals some of inner London's commuter times. With average prices of £179,368, it's clearly a far more affordable option, and the area has already started to show signs of a boom.

This was the third area suggested by Rightmove. As with Southampton, it is well positioned for London commuters, and also has huge local attractions.

A survey last year asked young professionals to name the place they would most like to live, and Brighton and Hove were the only areas that appeared on the list outside London.

One of the reasons it's not higher up the list is that houses are already on the pricey side, with an average cost of £338,956 - up 13% in the past year alone.

There may be few people who grow up with the dream of living in Swindon, but the electrification of the rail line to London will bring travel times down across the West Country, so Swindon becomes part of the outer commuter area.

Given that the average property costs £168, 968, it's easy to see why Swindon will be a popular option for commuters on a tight budget.

Bath is also going to benefit from electrification of the line, because the commute to London will fall to a manageable 70 minutes. The beauty of the city - along with a vibrant social and cultural life - makes it a clear choice for more long-distance commuters.

Of course, with an average asking price of £374,617, it's not a tremendously cheap place to buy, but the geography of the city restricts development, so these prices are expected to rise still further.

Property Frontiers says that the booming house prices in Oxford are set to get even higher. At the moment, travel to London takes 60 minutes, but this will reduce even further in 2016 when the line is electrified. Prices in the most desirable parts of the centre aren't much cheaper than London.

However, further out there are pockets of affordability, and when the Water Eaton station opens in 2015 it will open up areas to the north of the city too.

Manchester has seen enormous property price rises over the last couple of years, and Property Frontiers expects this to continue into 2015.

Other commentators are expecting the growth to slow over the next few years, especially given the gains made since 2012. However, demand for properties remains buoyant, and with the growth of the local economy, price rises seem inevitable.

Rising prices in London have pushed buyers further and further out of the centre, so estate agents are now claiming zone three as 'the new zone 2'.

Savills believes that the biggest gains over the next five years will be the less glamorous districts - putting the South and East in the frame. Gritty areas that could benefit include Ladywell, Streatham and Catford in the south, and Leytonstone, Forest Gate and Walthamstow in the east.

Cambridge could also perform well. It has already had house prices lifted by the growth of tech companies to the north of the city, and the arrival of pharmaceutical headquarters will help push prices up further.

In 2016 a new rail service from the city to the science park will keep prices rising, and beyond the opportunities presented by the local economy, Cambridge is also part of the 'outer commute' area of London, which Savills expects to shoot up in value over the next five years.


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