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Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com: Stop letting home insurers walk all over you

Martin Lewis, founder of moneysavingexpert.com

Martin Lewis, founder of moneysavingexpert.com

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Consumer guru Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.com offers his top tips for getting the best deal on your home insurance.

Could you cut your home insurance premium? Martin Lewis of Moneysavingexpert.com has some advice. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoCould you cut your home insurance premium? Martin Lewis of Moneysavingexpert.com has some advice. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Have you heard of price walking?

Price walking is a clever technique many home insurance providers use to make loyal customers pay more.

Each year if you stick with them they ‘walk’ up the price – never too quickly to cause alarm, but step, step, step, until they reach their goal. After five years or so you can easily be paying more than 50% over the odds.

So ask yourself, when did you last change your home insurance provider?

If the answer is more than a year ago, you’re most likely paying a loyalty penalty – far more than you’d pay the same company as a new customer.

As Miss Magneto tweeted me: “@MartinSLewis Home insurance went up to £258, disgraceful.... Used a comparison site and the cheapest at £147 was my current company ... Great.”

Yet you can easily stop this, and put more money in your pocket without sacrificing cover.

Before I show you how, here’s some inspiration – Christopher tweeted his thanks: “@MartinSLewis Just compared and saved £1,300 on home insurance, compared to @DirectLine_UK renewal quote!! Yes – saved £1,300.”

So it’s crucial that every year you don’t automatically stick with your current home insurer. It may be the cheapest, but that’s pretty rare.

The key five steps to getting the right deal on your home insurance are…

Step 1: Turn your house upside down to define the right

There are two elements to home insurance – buildings and contents.

An easy way to work out what’s covered is to imagine turning your home upside down: everything that stays put comes under buildings.

If it falls out, it’s contents. A joint policy is often easier as it means no jurisdictional disputes between firms.

Buildings insurance is only usually needed by freeholders, not renters or leaseholders.

You only need to insure the rebuild cost – so how much it would cost to rebuild your home should it get knocked down – rather than the market value. To find your rebuild value, there’s a free calculator at abi.bcis.co.uk.

Contents cover is for everyone. Don’t under-insure thinking you’ll never claim the full amount.

You often have much more value in your home than you think. Many insurers have useful calculators online.

There’s full help on this and other steps in my detailed guide at www.moneysavingexpert.com/homeinsurance.

Step 2: Don’t just use one comparison site – combine them

Comparison sites are a quick and easy way to find cheap quotes if you have relatively normal circumstances.

Yet in truth they’re not actually comparison sites, they are marketplaces, as they can have special deals and prices with different insurers (but should never be more expensive than going direct).

So the best thing to do is to combine a few of them to get a spread of insurers and prices.

Step 3: Check insurers that comparison sites miss

Two of the big insurers, www.aviva.co.uk and www.directline.com are not included on comparison sites, so check them separately, especially when they have discounts.

Also there can be a range of special promo deals that aren’t included on comparison sites.

When they’re live they’re listed on www.moneysavingexpert.com/homeinsurance, so keep an eye out.

Step 4: If you want to stay put, haggle

Once you’ve found a cheaper policy – you can always try taking the price to your existing provider and ask them to see if they will match it – they often will.

For example, in a recent poll I did, 76% of customers who haggled with Direct Line said they had success, while 89% did with Admiral and 75% with Hastings Direct. So it’s worth a try.

Step 5: If you’re switching, once you know what you’re getting, check for cashback

Once you know your cheapest policy and – crucially – you’ve checked it’s right for you, then check if you can earn cashback using a cashback site such as Topcashback.co.uk or www.Quidco.com.

These sites pay you if you click through them to other companies and purchase something – such as home insurance.

On occasion a few people even find the cashback is bigger than the cost of their insurance so are actually getting paid to get cover, like Ian who emailed: “I have paid £32 and I have £55.55 cashback confirmed, so I should have £23 profit.”

Martin Lewis is the founder and chairman of MoneySavingExpert.com.

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