Building and Contents Insurance

7th March 2007

Our secret shopper takes a look at Online Building and Insurance policies. They are a  35 year old married female with 2 children living in a 3 bedroom, semi-detached, mortgaged house in Cambridge valued at 300k built in 1980. Contents valued at 30k. The house has a working security system, and a claim has never been made against insurance. The house has been owned for 4 years.

 Insurance CompanyInsurance Quote Insurance Notes
 Direct Line
Insurance Voluntary excess - £100
 Tesco ₤210.00  Insurance Voluntary excess - £100
 Churchill  £170.10*Insurance Voluntary excess - £100
 Insurance Voluntary excess - £100
 Budget  £164.75 Insurance Voluntary excess - £100
 LloydsTSB  £172.28 Insurance Voluntary excess - £0-£200
 Halifax £242.58Policy excess - £150

Direct Line Insurance

A very quick and easy site and quote system to use. The initial quote for building and contents insurance took about 4-5minutes. The quoted price automatically gives building cover to ₤1,000,000 and contents to ₤19,600. It automatically checks "no" for Personal Possession cover. Any of these can be changed and I adjusted the contents cover to 30k. Additional cover that can be selected on this page for a re-quote are Accidental Damage, and Joint Policy Holder. The system automatically checks "yes" for Family Legal Protection, which, if changed to "no" reduces the above quote by ₤21.

I found the costs to be very clear. A monthly price is shown, followed by the breakdown including interest and final total should you choose to pay this way by direct debit. If you choose to pay in full straight away, this total is also shown and of course will save you a few pounds on interest. Overall, I found the Direct Line Website a very good site to use with explanations on the different terms easy to find and changes to the quote easy to make. The homepage for Home Insurance is currently offering a 50% discount on contents insurance when purchasing buildings cover and also free European annual family travel cover, plus a 20% discount if purchased online - I assume that my quote has been calculated including these offers! (This offer valid to 31/03/2007)

Tesco Insurance

An even faster website than the Direct Line one! Very easy to use, from the home page it only took 3 minutes to get the base quote for my building and contents insurance quote. As with Direct Line the buildings cover is to ₤1,000,000 and the contents was defaulted to ₤19,600 which I changed to 30k. Family Legal Protection was also automatically defaulted to "yes", which also, if changed to "no" would save ₤21 on the total cost.

The same format shows the monthly repayments plus APR if you choose to pay this by monthly direct debit, and also the complete price if you wish to pay by one lump sum.

Overall a very self explanatory and easy site to use. The quote seems very reasonable. The Tesco finance homepage also shows car insurance, breakdown and mortgage advice. If you are a Tesco clubcard holder then you can enter your card details into the quote system to presumably collect points (I am not a card holder).


The homepage for Churchill Insurance guarantees to give the cheapest quote or they will try to match it if you have been quoted cheaper. * It pays to note that although the quote is cheaper than the ones so far obtained, we are not comparing "apples with apples". The buildings cover is only to ₤250,000 but the contents cover is to ₤40,000. When I went in to try to change this so that I could get a proper comparison an error message said that buildings cover could only be between 250k-400k and contents was for a minimum of 40k. The website itself was rather slow - it took me three attempts to get into the quoting window, however once there the process was simple and quick. The format of the quote is the same as the above ones, showing the lump sum payment price and also the monthly price with APR if you choose to pay by monthly direct debit. Overall, if you only needed building cover to the amounts specified then this quote is on of the cheapest, and they offer more contents cover.

Privilege Insurance

A very speedy site to get a quote. It only took two minutes to get the initial quote and an extra one to read through it and adjust the contents cover to 30k (once again contents were automatically set to ₤19600) Basically this company offers exactly the same as most of the others. Building cover is to ₤1,000,000 and Family Legal Protection is automatically checked as "yes" with a ₤21 saving if you check "no". The total price if you pay in one lump sum is clearly shown at the top followed by the breakdown, including APR if you wish to pay by monthly installments. The home page advises that they offer 50% off contents when building and contents insurance is purchased, and that they will beat any renewal quote providing you have 4 years no claims discount (this offer is until end Mar 2007). Overall an uncomplicated and easy site to use offering a middle of the range quote for my requirements.

Budget Insurance

This site searches through 15 top insurers to find the best price for you. I found it a lot more long winded than all of the above sites due to more detailed questions being asked. The entire quote process took about 8 minutes; however, it has so far produced the cheapest quote. If Legal Protection is not needed the quote is approx ₤19 less. With this site prompts are offered for Protection away from Home and also for Bicycles, which none of the others clearly prompt you for. The total cost is clearly shown, along with the name of the insurer - in this instance Sterling. The breakdown and APR if you wish to pay in monthly installments is also clearly laid out along with the excesses and other coverage which may be included in the policy. My only criticism is that I could not easily find how much my Building coverage was for.

Lloyds TSB Insurance

I am not entirely won over by the Lloyds website. The quote process took about 5 minutes to do, and the final quote is one of the cheapest, however you cannot find out much about the policies which are quoted until you have almost finished the buying process and then you need to download a PDF file to read about it. Lloyds must search through other insurance companies to find the best deal for you, because the Contents quote was through Groupama Insurance and the Building quote through Fortis Insurance Ltd. I selected my largest single item for cover to be ₤500. I originally selected the highest value that they offered on the website (₤3000+) however the system would not quote this and said I would need to phone, so I chose to look at the opposite end of the scale just to see what would be quoted. A brief summary of the quote details for Contents was voluntary excess ₤200 and total coverage to ₤50,000 and for Buildings a voluntary excess of zero and total rebuilding coverage to ₤400,000. The quote comes up showing the monthly payment total in bold, and one plus about Lloyds is that if you choose to pay monthly the payments are interest free. The lump sum payment is also highlighted along with a note that you are receiving 15% discount by purchasing online. Overall, a very tedious website to get a quote and easily access the policy information, however if you have the time to read through the policies to compare with some of the more expensive quotes, then you could be on a winner as far as the cost of the insurance goes.


A bit more complicated than some of the others in understanding the quote. The process was relatively fast only taking about 3 minutes to complete. I had to adjust my contents cover to 15k which is the maximum that Halifax will cover for. However Buildings cover is unlimited. Home emergency cover which is valued at ₤49.99 is also automatically calculated into the Buildings quote and Legal Expenses cover is free for the first year. I had to click on each subheading to find the information which was relatively straightforward in understanding except you had to scroll down through a lot of other information to find the exact part that you were after, which was quite tedious. The quote includes a 25% online discount plus half price contents insurance for buying both at the same time. I also noticed on the home page that if you choose to pay by monthly direct debit there is no interest calculated on the amount. Overall, I found Halifax comparative to most of the above. I probably would not use them as they only offered half of what I needed for contents cover and they were not significantly cheaper.

Conclusion on Buildings and Contents Insurance

As you can see by the range of above quotes it pays to shop around. Always make sure you are comparing "apples with apples" as some of the quotes, whilst appearing to be a bargain were not giving the same coverage as the more expensive ones and you could lose out by being under insured. I found Directline, Privilege and Tesco to be the easiest sites to use and get clear information from. Budget definitely produced the cheapest quote and I would take time to call them and get a clear outline of the policy before I purchased online if I were to be buying this insurance. If a lower contents cover was needed then the Halifax site was also an easy site to use although their final cost did not reflect the lower cover. Although Lloyds TSB and Churchill provided two of the cheapest quotes, I would tend not to use them as their websites were awkward to use and they did not offer the amount of coverage I needed. I would recommend definitely taking a bit of time and shopping around for your Buildings and Contents Insurance, don't make a quick decision and find yourself underinsured. I hope that this research helps you out with your online shopping for Buildings and Contents Insurance!

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