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Buying your first home? Here's what you need to know about insurance

You've found your perfect place, sorted out your finances and you’re already planning the housewarming party. Congratulations! You're about to turn the dream of owning your first home into reality. Before you physically move in, you've probably got a to-do list as long as your arm. So, it's understandable if ‘buying insurance’ is somewhere down the bottom of on your list. 

But if there's one thing life teaches us, it's to expect the unexpected. We can't always be ready for what's around the corner and unforeseen incidents can derail the best-laid plans. In the absence of a crystal ball, home insurance is a sensible purchase for first home buyers. 

What insurance do you need?

Buying a home is the biggest investment most people make, so it's logical to spend some time thinking about which insurance is right for you and your property.

For first home buyers, taking out home and/or contents insurance covers your new home on the inside and out. Home building insurance covers the physical building you live in. That's the walls, windows, walk-in wardrobes and anything permanently fixed, like your stove or hot water heater. Contents insurance covers what you put inside your home, like your sofa, smart TV and snowboard. Bundling the two into one home and contents insurance policy covers you for damage and losses to both your home and personal belongings. Accidental damage or loss is usually offered in a higher level of cover or as an optional extra.  

It's worth remembering you may need home insurance as a condition of your mortgage, and you should check what your policy covers  before signing up. No-one wants to imagine a nightmare situation in their new dream home but think of home insurance as a security measure. Hopefully it won't happen but, if disaster does ever strike, insurance could be the safety net.

Ensuring you're insured at every step

We know you're desperate to get into your first home and start unpacking, but it's advisable to have home insurance sorted before you move in.  

In Australia, the stage a home buyer becomes responsible for their new property varies according to state or territory. In some circumstances, the buyer is responsible for any damage to the property on settlement. Generally the buyer could be responsible as soon as contracts are exchanged. It is important to seek legal advice to understand the liability that applies.

If that sounds confusing, don't worry. You can check the rules in the state or territory where you're buying your first home or speak to an insurer about your options.  

Working out what your new home (and the stuff inside) is worth

It’s one thing to have home insurance, and another to have enough coverage in your policy. To get a property insurance estimate you'll need to work out the cost of rebuilding your home if it were damaged by something like a natural disaster.

To calculate the cost, consider things like the age, size and features of your home, internal fittings and fixtures like lights and kitchen cupboards, and structures like fencing or a deck. You can also use a building calculator to work out what it would cost if you had to rebuild.

What’s inside is important, too, so you'll need to value your belongings for your contents insurance. Try going from room to room and working out what it would cost to replace all your things. Whether it's the Picasso hiding in your garage or your collection of antique beer bottles – if you love it, cover it. As it’s your first insurance, it’s a good idea to keep a detailed inventory with photographs of your home’s contents and store it somewhere safe should you ever need to make a claim.  

Take your time when working out how much you want to be covered for. A 2019 report from the Insurance Council of Australia found more than 80 per cent of Australian homeowners and renters think they might be underinsured for their home and contents.

And remember to review the value of your cover every year, or when you get that expensive birthday pressie and want to add it to your policy. 

What you'll pay for peace of mind

As a first home buyer, the cost of home insurance premium depends on several factors. For example, the location of your new home, whether it’s a freestanding house or apartment, when it was built, what materials it’s made from (for example, brick or timber) and what security features (like locks and alarms) it has.

An old house in an area where there are regular floods or storms, for example, might have a higher premium than a brand-new house in an area where natural disasters rarely occur.

 

The last thing you want to think about when you're buying your first home is something going wrong. Hopefully nothing ever will, and your castle will never come under attack but, as we all know, unexpected events do happen. Insurance provides a financial buffer to help you recover from whatever Mother Nature (or life) throws at you and your home. 

Need Insurance?

Ready to start looking at insurance options for your first home? Learn more about our different levels of cover here.

Do I really need Home Insurance?

Imagine if a flood, fire or storm wreaked havoc on your home and also caused damage to your personal property – what would you do? A home insurance policy allows you to receive compensation for a specific loss or damage in return for the payment of a premium.

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How much should I insure my house for?

One of the biggest risks when considering home insurance is not taking out enough cover. In the event that your home and/or contents are completely destroyed, you may not have enough money to rebuild the home entirely or replace all of your possessions.

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Important information

The information contained in this article is general information only and is not specific to any product.  

It does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to your personal objectives, financial situation and needs to these factors before acting on it.

Terms, conditions and exclusions apply to any insurance product. Please read the disclosure documents for your selected product or service, including the Terms and Conditions or Product Disclosure Statement, before deciding.

Cover is subject to your application for insurance being accepted.

Product Disclosure Statements (PDS)

Home and Contents Insurance Product Disclosure Statement (PDF 619KB) (applicable to policies issued or renewed on or after 5 April 2021)

Home and Contents Insurance Product Disclosure Statement and Supplementary Product Disclosure Statement (PDF 382KB) (applicable to policies issued or renewed in the period between 1 July 2019 and 4 April 2021)

Product Disclosure Statements (PDS)

Landlord Insurance Product Disclosure Statement (PDF 585KB) (applicable to policies issued or renewed on or after 5 April 2021)

Landlord Insurance Product Disclosure Statement (PDF 426KB) (applicable to policies issued or renewed in the period between 1 July 2019 and 4 April 2021)

This information does not take your personal objectives, circumstances or needs into account. Read the relevant PDS(s) to see if this insurance is right for you.

View the Retail and Business Banking Financial Services Guide, Credit Guide and Privacy Statement. (PDF 169KB)

Home and Contents Insurance is issued by Westpac General Insurance Limited ABN 99 003 719 319 (except workers compensation cover where applicable).  St.George  – a Division of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 (the Bank) distributes the insurance, but does not guarantee the insurance.