How to choose the best home insurance provider
With home insurance prices on the rise thanks to extreme weather and higher inflation, it’s increasingly important to get the right policy.
The best home insurance companies offer quality cover as standard, as well as excellent customer service. To find out who those include, we surveyed 1,718 customers who have recently claimed, and analysed 78 policies from 37 companies. We’ve asked questions on everything from clarity of home insurance policies to customer service.
Our experts then used this information to understand how each company has treated its customers when most needed, and assess the top providers.
Please note that the information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. Please refer to the particular terms and conditions of an insurer before committing to any financial products.
Best UK home insurance companies: the Which? Recommended Provider
We compared 37 insurance companies in total, and you can see our results in the tables below. At the moment, we are giving only one our Which? recommended Provider Award.
NFU Mutual was our only Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) this year.
- 81% customer score: It topped our customer score rankings for home insurance by some distance with a score of 81%. Whether asked about the clarity of its policies or of speed of updates during claims, NFU Mutual policyholders were full of praise for the insurer.
- 74% policy score: It was no slouch when it came to cover either. Compared with other standard policies, NFU Mutual’s buildings and contents scores of 74% placed it comfortably in the top half for buildings (ranking 13th out of 35) and fourth best for contents.
We like: it’s also one of the few providers we surveyed that won’t charge you extra for paying your premiums monthly, or a Home insurance: add-ons, fees and charges explained. Unfortunately though, NFU Mutual will only insure homes located in certain (often rural) areas of the UK.
- Read our full review of NFU Mutual’s home insurance.
The best of the rest
While these are not Which? Recommended Providers, these companies stand out, scoring as the next best.
- 74% customer score: LV received a customer score rating of 74%, ranking third out of 15 providers. They missed the Which? Recommended Provider status by just one point, with the required minimum score being 75%.
- Policy score: with a 73% rating, LV’s buildings policy ranked well within the top half of standard policies we analysed. While its contents policy scored 71%, placing it among the top handful.
We like: LV’s policy offers the same level of coverage for items stored in outbuildings (such as a garage or shed) as it does for those within the home – where often a lower cover limit will apply. It also provides standard coverage for burst pipes, encompassing both pipe repairs and damage resulting from leaks.
- Read our full review of LV home insurance.
- 70% customer score: customers gave Aviva a 70% score, placing it 10th out of 15 providers.
- Policy score: Aviva’s standard policy performed reasonably well in our analysis. The buildings insurance received a score of 72%, a bit higher than the 71% average for standard policies. The contents policy scored 70%, comfortably surpassing the 65% average for standard policies.
We like: it provides 24/7 emergency assistance via phone or online, with no setup or renewal fees. The coverage includes protection for flooding damage to belongings caused by gradual groundwater build-up, damage caused by domestic pets, and £750 coverage for cash and credit cards both in and away from the home.
- Read our full review of Aviva home insurance.
- 75% customer score: customers rated Direct Line 75% – second out of 15 providers rated.
- Policy score: while it didn’t do terribly, Direct Line’s standard policy (‘Home insurance’) left room for improvement in our evaluation. The buildings cover achieved a score of 70%, slightly below the average of 71%, and the contents score of 63% fell just below the 65% average.
We like: Direct Line covers the expenses for damage to belongings in outbuildings (for example, sheds or greenhouses) at the same level as items inside your home. The policy provides strong coverage for burst pipes, and if you lose your keys or they are stolen, you can make a claim to replace external locks.
- Read our full review of Direct line home insurance.
Other Best Buy home policies
In addition to our overall Which? Recommended Provider, we also found eight Best Buy policies – find out how we arrived at them below.
These included our Which? Recommended Provider NFU Mutual, alongside policies from Churchill, Direct Line, Ecclesiastical, NatWest, Privilege, Royal Bank of Scotland, and The Salvation Army General Insurance Company (Sagic)
NatWest (‘Premier’) and Royal Bank of Scotland (‘Premier’)
- Customer score: we didn’t get sufficient respondents to award a customer or claims score for these policies.
- Policy score: Both NatWest’s and Royal Bank of Scotland’s ‘Premier’ policies performed exceptionally well in our assessment – both policies achieved top scores and received Best Buy (for buildings cover and contents cover). You can carry out these policies only by calling in. Both scored a strong 86% for buildings cover and an outstanding 91% for contents cover.
We like: Key features of both policies include coverage for matching sets, ensuring that if an item from a set (like a chair in a three-piece suite) cannot be repaired or replaced, the insurer will replace the entire set.
- Read our full reviews of NatWest’s home insurance and Royal Bank of Scotland’s home insurance.
Best UK home insurance companies and policies compared
We’ve summarised all our findings in the tables below, and provided full reviews of 20 providers opposite.
In the drop down menu below, you can select two tables. In the first table, you can compare the 14 insurers that received both customer scores and policy scores. The policy scores are for each provider’s standard policy.
The second table shows our 24 buildings and contents Best Buys. While we couldn’t review the customer service of all providers we looked at, Best Buys are awarded to policies that stood out in our analysis as offering particularly high levels of cover – on paper, at least.
- See how over 70 buildings policies compared
- See how over 70 contents policies compared
Best and worst home insurers
Table note: last updated in March 2023. Next update in September 2024. Customer Score: survey of 1,718 policyholders in November 2022 (-) indicates we didn’t get sufficient respondents to award a customer or claims score. Barclays received a customer score this year of 65%, placing it 15th out of the 15 brands rated, but did not take part in our policy survey. You can read our full methodology below.
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How to pick a home insurance policy
Maha Gadir, Insurance Analyst, says: ‘When it comes to picking the best home insurance policy, don’t assume that a specific item or incident being covered ‘as standard’ will mean you are covered in all circumstances. For example, a policy that includes home emergency cover can sometimes exclude storm damage to your roof or gas supply failures and stolen or lost key cover rarely includes internal door locks or safes.
It’s also possible for claims around burst or blocked pipes to need further investigation, the amount available for a “Trace and Access” can range from £1,000 – £15,000 so it’s crucial to have an expert estimation of expected costs to avoid being left with a nasty bill.’
Home insurance FAQs
There are two main types of home insurance – buildings insurance and contents insurance. As their names suggest, buildings insurance covers your home’s physical structure while contents insurance covers your possessions and items within your home.
Buildings insurance covers your windows, walls and roof as well as permanent fixtures in your home such as fitted kitchens and bathrooms. Your policy will protect you against damage caused by fire, flood, fallen trees, vandalism, malicious damage, subsidence and vehicle or aircraft collisions.
Content insurance covers the cost of replacing items in your home if they are destroyed, damaged or stolen. Insurers tend to consider your ‘contents’ as items that you would take with you if you moved home. This can include furniture, kitchenware, entertainment, soft furnishings, and jewellery amongst others.
It is recommended that you purchase contents and buildings insurance together but you can buy them individually. This is more popular for renters or people who pay service charges as they do not need to have a buildings insurance policy in place.
No, unlike car insurance, home insurance is not a legal requirement. You do not have to have a home insurance policy in order to own or rent a home in the UK.
That said, most mortgage lenders will require you to hold buildings insurance.
However, if you choose to skip taking out a home insurance policy you are putting your home – both the building and the contents – at risk. If something were to happen to your home such as subsidence or a break in, you would have to pay for the repairs and loss of possessions in full.
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in 2020/21 79% of domestic property insurance claims were accepted with the average claim covering £4,066 worth of damage. Without home insurance cover, you would be left to pay that figure without any financial support.
The ABI reported that only 69% of adults have contents insurance. This means that 31% of consumers are leaving their personal possessions such as their laptops, TVs, and jewellery vulnerable to theft, loss or damage.
The chances are, your home is the most expensive thing you will ever buy. So making sure it is protected and cared for will be worth it in the long run. And while prices are continuing to creep up, your policy doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
We found 8 things that you buy per week that cost more than your home insurance such as a glass of wine or a cinema ticket. Paying annually and shopping around for a competitive home insurance quote are a few ways to help keep your costs down and help you find cheap home insurance.
The ABI reported that in the first quarter of 2023, the average cost of home insurance was £315 a year – up 6% on the year before.
This figure was for combined contents and buildings insurance. Once you break it down, buildings insurance was £236 and contents was £117.
After a year of turbulent weather in 2022 – storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin and a record-breaking hot summer, it’s expected that prices will likely increase in 2023. These extreme weathers led to an increase of claims made by consumers, causing insurers having to spend more on payouts, which in turn will lead to an increase in home insurance premiums.
To ensure you have the right cover, it’s worth having a precise idea of how much you need to insure.
Find out the rebuild price of your property (this will be lower than the value). The Association of British Insurers provides a free-to-use calculator to help you estimate this.
The same goes for the combined cost of your contents. Our contents calculator can help you tally up the value of your possessions.
Yes you can, and it can be very effective.
Negotiating a cheaper insurance price isn’t a dark art – it can be as simple as calling your insurer and asking if they can do better than the renewal offer.
If you’ve shopped around, you’ll be able to give examples of deals you’ve seen elsewhere.
New rules protecting renewing customers from being charged more than if they were new don’t stop your insurer offering you a cheaper price if you haggle.
Don’t just let your home insurance roll over each year.
Insurers used to be able to charge you more if you were renewing with them than they would if you were new. They can’t do this anymore, but you still stand to lose out by not checking if you’re being offered a good deal.
Whether you’re thinking about switching or want to stay put, assume that the figure posted out to you in your renewal letter is up for debate.
Take 10 minutes to run a quote on a comparison site. This will give you an indication of what your insurer’s rivals are prepared to offer.
At Which? we analysed 78 home insurance policies, surveying thousands of customers to find the best home insurance provider. We measured customer score, buildings score and contents score to create an overall ranking.
Our research revealed that NFU Mutual home insurance came out on top with a customer satisfaction of 81% and an overall score of 78% making it the only Which? Recommended Provider.
Other providers that ranked well in customer satisfaction were LV (74%), Direct Line (75%) Halifax (71%) and Aviva (70%).
Not all of us live in ‘typical’ circumstances or conventional properties. If your home has a thatched roof, a history of subsidence or is of unusual construction you may need to stray off the beaten track to find reasonably priced cover.
There are insurers and brokers that specialise in particular types of risk, so it’s worth including them in your search. The British Insurance Broker’s Association’s website has a ‘Find Insurance’ tool and a helpline (0370 950 1790) for this purpose.
How we analyse home insurance
In November 2022, we surveyed 1,718 policyholders who had made a claim with their current insurer within the last two years. The customer score is based on their overall satisfaction and their likelihood of recommending their insurer.
Providers must receive a minimum sample size of 30 to be included.
We only survey customers who’ve recently claimed. This is because you’ll only know how good an insurer’s customer service really is when you have to make a claim. That’s when good insurers will show their ability to deal with problems, quickly process your claim and arrange replacements or repairs as soon as possible.
In December 2022 we surveyed 37 insurance companies about the levels of cover in their policies. We rated 40 elements of contents cover, 21 elements of buildings cover, and 25 features that apply to both – such as admin fees. The the policy score reflects how well the policy did overall. The higher it is, the more the more comprehensive the cover.
Certain elements are weighted to have more or less of an impact on the policy score, based on the general level of importance we think it has. Among the highest-weighted elements are accidental damage cover, claim limits for valuables and alternative accommodation cover.
The total score is a combination of the two policy scores and the customer score. It is made up of 50% customer score, and 25% each of buildings and contents policy scores.
Which? Recommended Providers
The ‘Recommended Provider’ badge is our top endorsement. A Recommended Provider is a company that offers average or better levels of cover in its standard policy and – perhaps more importantly – gets great feedback from customers who have tried putting their cover to use (have made claims).
The top-scoring providers will be awarded Which? Recommended Provider status, if they have met certain conditions:
- be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority
- be available to the public
- have received responses from 30 or more customers in our customer survey
- must achieve a high score in our customer satisfaction survey
- must also achieve average or above policy scores for buildings and contents.
- must also achieve an average or better claims score
Find out more about Which? Recommended Provider status.
Which? Best Buys
We review a lot of policies – and our ‘Best Buy’ badge recognises the individual products that stood out as being the most comprehensive in our analysis. It doesn’t reflect customer service. However, we won’t give a provider a Best Buy badge where there’s evidence – either from our surveys or from Financial Conduct Authority data – of poor service or a poorer-than-average record of paying claims.
- Policies named as Best Buys for buildings cover have a minimum policy score of 74%
- Policies named as Best Buys for contents cover have a minimum policy score of 68%
Additionally, we look at how consistently good the cover is in policies. To make the cut, a policy needs to have scored at least three out of five points in two thirds of the areas we’ve rated (see ‘How we calculate the scores’ for more).
Lastly, all Best Buy policies must have – or make available – the following levels of cover as a minimum:
Flood, storm, subsidence and accidental damage cover; Cover for burst or blocked pipes; Trace and access cover (£5,000); Alternative accommodation (£50,000); Property owner liability (£1m); Replacement of locks or keys for external doors (£500); Home Emergency Cover (£500 and includes the central heating system)
Accidental damage cover; Theft and damage of contents in the open; Theft and damage of contents from outbuildings; Business equipment; Alternative accommodation (£15,000); Money in the home (£500); Valuables (unspecified single item limit – £1,500); Personal possessions (unspecified single item limit – £1,000); Replacement of locks or keys for external doors (£500).