Revealed – the cheapest (and the best) home insurance is….

Cheap Home Insurance

…not necessarily the one you might be expecting. OK. Teasing aside, this is not a clickbait post. We will answer that question, but it is not as simple as it may appear on the surface. First, I had to compare the different prices for essentially the same cover, and that meant grabbing the virtual machete and carving a path through the wild jungle of insurance comparison sites.

Home Insurance Comparison Sites

Why describe this industry as a jungle? Because as pretty as they are in TV, I find actual jungles very unpleasant. None of these sites are actually unbiased, as they all make money from you selecting financial products like insurance through them. No comparison site ever really compares all the insurers. In fact, most will pretend an insurer doesn’t exist if they don’t agree to give the comparison site a bounty on each sale they direct to the company. In practical terms, I cannot actually endorse any one comparison site over any other… though one did let me see a lot of movies on the cheap before lockdown.

Your best bet is really to get a set of comparisons from one site, then compare that to a list of quotes from as many other sites as you have time for. So, to get the numbers you see above, I followed my own advice and played one off against the other. I recorded the best price I found on different services for the same company. The fact that an Admiral quote on one comparison service was dramatically higher than the quote for the same insurance on another is proof that you should compare the comparison sites all by itself.

Here are what I think might be the top 5 most useful comparison sites right now:

  • Confused.com – Confused.com is best known for its car insurance comparisons, bit it has a long history of operating in the UK and has a very good reputation, as far as these things go. One of its best features is the user community it has developed, who share their experiences with little if any censorship.
  • MoneySuperMarket – MoneySuperMarket has a long history with home financial products, having started as a mortgage subscription house in the late 80s and morphing into a comparison site for loans and credit by the late 90s. It is easy to use, and has a wide range of insurers sighed up.
  • Compare the Market – who doesn’t love a good mascot? Compare the Market offers a few unusual features, like a rewards program for buying multiple financial products through them, and the whole eating out and movie tickets discount thing.
  • GoCompare – again, their mascot game is strong. GoCompare is highly ranked (Trustpilot gives them 4.8 of 5 stars), and they generally play the game pretty straight. A very good website in terms of UX, as well.
  • Moneysavingexpert.com – Money saving Expert is still closely associated in people’s minds with Martin Lewis, even though he hasn’t owned the site for a decade. It is really just a part of MoneySuperMarket.com now. However, it is an easy site to use, it features a wide range of insurers, and it sometimes offers different results from MoneySuperMarket, so it is still a valid part of the compare-the-comparers game.

The persona and the… house-sona?

But before we could compare anything, we had to invent a persona and pretend they were buying insurance on a particular property. After all, insurers charge different premiums for different reasons. One might be the least expensive for a low-end property, but actually prove more expensive for properties over, say, £700,000. Another insurer might charge much more for a property at risk of flooding than one that would otherwise be more expensive.

So, we’ve attempted to level the playing field a little bit in order to give the most useful answer we can. We’ve invented a ‘average house’, and placed it arbitrarily in London to be relevant to the largest number of readers. We do, however, invite you to run this experiment yourself in your own region, and share your results in the comments. Odds are excellent that the cheapest home insurance company for a house in Cheshire is very different from the one we selected.

As home value is relevant, we’ve chosen a property marked at £500,000. As the cost of an average home in London as of May 2022, according to https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-house-price-index-for-may-2022 was £526,183, we felt this was a reasonable choice. It is a maisonette in Marsland Close SE17, if you’re playing at home. We’ll say it has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath.

Next, we searched quite a few home insurance comparison websites to get initial quotes. We’re looking for buildings and contents insurance, and imaging it is our main home. This notional home is not used for business purposes (we can dream), and is never left empty for 30 days in a row. It is a family home with 2 adults, one child, and no smokers. The imaginary occupants all have work or school during the day. They haven’t made any home insurance claims in the last 5 years. We’ll stipulate that the doors use key operated multipoint locks, there are no patio doors, and all the windows have locks. We’ll put in an imaginary burglar alarm, but not one that is maintained or monitored (do you think we’re made of imaginary money?).

We estimate the cost of replacing the home’s imaginary contents is £10,000. We’ll be paying annually. We prefer no excess, because we want to actually be able to use the insurance.

So, what were we offered through the half a dozen comparison sites we put this data into?

On the lower end we got several very affordable offers:

Quoteline Direct offered a price of £363.22 per year. This includes extras like:

  • Alternative accommodation
  • Emergency helpline
  • Frozen food cover
  • Money cover
  • New for old
  • Replacement locks cover
  • Trace and access cover

Policy Expert offered a price of £416.93 per year for their ‘Silver’ cover. This includes extras like:

  • Legal cover
  • Home emergency cover
  • Alternative accommodation
  • Emergency helpline
  • Frozen food cover
  • Money cover
  • New for old
  • Replacement locks cover
  • Trace and access cover

Sainsbury’s Bank offered a price of £437.03 per year. This includes extras like:

  • Alternative accommodation
  • Frozen food cover
  • Money cover
  • New for old
  • Replacement locks cover
  • Trace and access cover

More Than offered a price of £476.03 per year. This included extras like:

  • Home emergency cover
  • Alternative accommodation
  • Emergency helpline
  • Frozen food cover
  • Money cover
  • New for old
  • Replacement locks cover

Hastings Direct offered a price of £473.12 per year. This includes extras like:

  • Alternative accommodation
  • Emergency helpline
  • Frozen food cover
  • Money cover
  • New for old
  • Replacement locks cover

However, many insurers offered much higher figures without offering much more in the way of protection and features:

RCIB asked for a staggering £5,600.35 per year. This includes extras like:

  • Emergency helpline
  • Frozen food cover
  • Money cover
  • New for old
  • Replacement locks cover

…but not things that were more or less standard at the low end, like alternative accommodation or accidental damage cover.

RIAS offered £1,143.07 per year. This included extras like:

  • Alternative accommodation
  • Frozen food cover
  • Money cover
  • New for old
  • Replacement locks cover
  • Trace and access cover

…but again, it left out many features common at the lower end of the scale.

Admiral offered £997.91 per year for ‘Platinum’ level cover. This actually did come with a full set of extras like:

  • Legal cover
  • Home emergency cover
  • Accidental damage to contents
  • Accidental damage to buildings
  • Alternative accommodation
  • Emergency helpline
  • Frozen food cover
  • Money cover
  • New for old
  • Replacement locks cover
  • Trace and access cover

Dial Direct offered £950.47 per year. This offer came with a decent set of features, only really lacking in accidental damage cover.

  • Legal cover
  • Home emergency cover
  • Alternative accommodation
  • Emergency helpline
  • Frozen food cover
  • Money cover
  • New for old
  • Replacement locks cover
  • Trace and access cover

But price is only half the story, isn’t it? Cheap insurance that never pays out when you need it is just money wasted. How do these insurers stack up in terms of actual customer satisfaction, and how can you find a somewhat unbiased opinion? Well, that takes us to Home Insurance Reviews.

Home Insurance Provider Reviews

You can’t trust a company’s view on whether they can be trusted – like the old joke ‘this shop is highly recommended by the owner’. It is best to seek out at least 3 more-or-less independent reviews of a company before accepting their offer. It could be that, as in the situation here, you find that the cheapest isn’t the best.

I personally use Trustpilot as my go-to reviewer for all kinds of companies, but never put all your eggs in one basket. I can also recommend the Times Money Mentor, Defaqto and simply googling “(company name) customer review”.

 Here are the results I got using Trustpilot:

  • Quoteline direct, the lowball offer, got 4.1 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot, with 64% of nearly 3000 reviews being ‘excellent’. However, 21% were ‘bad’. But take that with a grain of salt, as even the ‘big’ names get plenty of bad reviews, as you’ll see.
  • RCIB, the one who wanted £5600 per year, rated a terrible 1.2 stars out if 5 on Trustpilot, and 98% of their 78 reviews were ‘bad’. One was ‘poor’ and one was ‘excellent – I smell a shill. Anyway, this confirms the “hard no” I had already decided upon there.
  • Admiral got a mere 3.5 out of 5 from Trustpilot, with just 54% of more than 12,000 reviews in the ‘Excellent’ range. Fully 29% of its reviews were ‘bad’, and involve adjectives like incompetent, unprofessional and shocking.
  • Dial Direct got 4.5 out of 5 on Trustpilot, with 71% of more than 17,000 reviews being excellent. Only 7% of the reviews were ‘bad’, which says more to me than all the ‘excellent’ reviews put together.
  • RIAS scored 4.3 of 5 on Trustpilot, with 69% of more than 6,000 reviews rating ‘excellent’. Only 9% were ‘bad’ which is a very low number for this field.
  • Hastings Direct got 4.3 of 5 stars in Trustpilot, with 68% of more than 113,000 reviews being excellent. However, this leaves more than 11,000 reviews firmly in the ‘Bad’ category, which might be more telling.
  • More Than got 4.1 stars on Trustpilot, with a relatively low 57% of 14,000+ reviews in the excellent category, but only 16% in ‘bad’. Overall, I’d call that positive.
  • Sainsbury’s Bank managed just 3.6 stars on Trustpilot, with 57% of more than 7,000 reviews in the ‘excellent’ category, but fully 22% in the ‘bad’ pile.
  • Finally, Policy Expert got a very commendable 4.8 of 5 stars on Trustpilot, with 78% of more than 57,000 reviews in the ‘excellent’ pile and a mere 2% rated as ‘bad’.

So, who is the overall winner?

Strictly on price, we’ve got to go with Quoteline Direct. However, its Trustpilot customer reviews weren’t amazing. Better than many of the much more expensive options, but not amazing. Therefore, we cannot really call them ‘the best’.

No, ‘the best’ is, IMHO, Policy Expert. They provided the 2nd lowest quote, they offer a good selection of features, and their customer reviews are stellar. They also survived my super-secret test, the one I use to pick unknown wines at Aldi – I always buy the 2nd cheapest.

Really, though, try this test at home, with your own locations and home values. I imagine you’ll get some wildly different results. Who is the cheapest home insurance company in Wetwang? Who best covers Pratt’s Bottom? Who is the real number one choice in Studley Rogering? And which of these places did I just make up today? Share your results in the comments!