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Thu, 21/05/2020
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Buying and Selling a House: What are Your Insurance Obligations?

In this article, we will answer questions such as “Why do you need buildings insurance in place right from the time when you exchange contracts?”, “Can you transfer insurance when you move house?”, and “Will your contents be insured during the move?”

When you buy a property in the UK, once the contracts are agreed and become binding, you take legal responsibility for the new property. This means that if your new home gets damaged after that date, you will be responsible for the repairs.
It’s a good idea not only to think about buildings insurance for your new home, but also insurance for your belongings, both in transit from your old place to the new one, and once they’re moved in. Our guide will provide you with key tips you should consider when it comes to your insurance when you move house. 

What cover is needed for a property move?

Some house insurance policies cover house moves, meaning your possessions will be covered when being transported from one house to another. However, this may be considered an optional extra by some insurers, so you must check your policy. 

Here are some key pointers on your cover when moving to a new house:

  • For your cover to be valid, you will likely have to use professional movers. A DIY move could invalidate your insurance and transporting belongings yourself will not be covered.
  • Valuables or breakable goods are only insured if they are packed professionally.
  • Valuables, jewellery and documents may not be covered in your policy.
  • Your contents cover on the move might only last a few days, so you might need to get a separate policy for belongings in storage.
  • Particularly valuable items might require a standalone policy, depending on your cover limits.
  • If you hire an independent van driver to help you with your house move, check what insurance they have.

If are unsure whether your policy covers you for moving to a new house or what the limits are, get in touch with your insurer to find out.

Do you have buildings and contents insurance at your current address?

Knowing your next steps and where you stand when it comes to moving is so important, as it can be a stressful and confusing process. Your next steps will vary slightly depending on your current living situation.

If you are already insured:

  • You need to contact your insurer so that it can transfer the cover to the new address.
  • It is sensible to inform the company well in advance of the expected exchange date, so that cover can be arranged from that day.
  • You can always cancel the change if the sale fails to go through.
  • Remember to check that your existing home remains protected while you remain legally responsible for it.

If you have no buildings and/or contents insurance in place:

  • You will need to take out a policy that offers cover from the date of exchange on your new home. For this, you will need the address and postcode of the property, as well as its rebuild cost and the value of your belongings or the home contents that need to be insured.
  • To be fully protected, you will need a policy that covers both buildings and contents, or two separate policies – one for buildings, one for contents.

What are your insurance options during a move?

There’s a lot to think about when you’re moving house. There are many cover types and options worth considering. These include:

  • Goods in transit

You probably haven’t thought about insurance for your possessions during a move. But it could be worth checking your contents policy, as you may be covered for your belongings against damage or loss while they’re in transit. However, you will need to use a professional removals firm – many of which have their own insurance to be able to benefit from this protection. If you were planning on only going to receive help from a few friends on moving day, then you probably won’t be covered. 

  • Double home cover

It is recommended to buy insurance cover for the day you exchange and the contracts become binding, to avoid the property being uninsured for a length of time before the transaction is complete and you move in.

Most policies will cover your old property until you exchange with the purchaser, and the new one from when you exchange with the seller. But if there is any overlap in the dates, you should check that both properties are covered during this time.

  • Transfer insurance

If you have buildings and contents insurance at your current address you might be able to transfer the cover to your new home. 

As premiums are based on the postcode and type of property that you live in, informing your insurer of your new address will allow them to recalculate your new premiums. 

If you are buying new furniture or electrical goods for your new home, it is also worth looking at the sum you’re insured for under your home contents as this could push the value up.

Furthermore, if the sale of your new home falls through, you can cancel the transfer of cover.

  • Cancelling your policy

This sounds like an odd choice. But, moving house could be a good time to check that you’re getting the best deal possible on your home insurance. Your insurer might have given you a good deal on your previous property, but this may not be as competitive for your new home, so it’s worth shopping around.

Just bear in mind that if you still have time left on your old policy, you could face a cancellation fee for switching mid-way through. 

In need of assistance?

If you need home insurance help, the best advice we can give you is to shop around. The Be Wiser website is a fantastic place to start to help you find the right home insurance cover for your needs.