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If our home is our castle then it makes sense to protect it in any way possible. We invest in locks and latches, in gates and fences, in smoke detectors and alarm systems – investing in home and contents insurance should be a must as well.

Even in our increasingly digital world, most of our most treasured possessions are still physical. We can’t compensate for the sentimental value attached to our belongings but we can try to compensate for the financial loss of either or both our property and our belongings. The way we do this is with home insurance (sometimes called building insurance) and contents insurance.

What is home insurance (or building insurance)?

2016 Canstar Outstanding Value Home and ContentsHome insurance (also called property insurance or building insurance) helps to cover the cost of damage to or destruction of your home, garage, other outbuildings and permanent fixtures (such as built-in wardrobes).

What is contents insurance?

Contents insurance provides protection against damage or loss of personal possessions. This may include anything from a pair of designer sunglasses to a flatscreen television.

What can home and contents insurance cover?

  • Legal liability cover for damage to other people and their property cause by an incident
  • Damage caused by fire, flood, storm, earthquake, riot ect.
  • Damage from animals that don’t live on the property
  • Damage or loss of your home caused by theft or attempted theft, vandalism or malicious damage
  • Emergency repairs to prevent further damage from an insured event
  • Demolition of a damaged or irreparable building
  • Temporary accommodation while your home is unlivable
  • Mortgage discharge fees if your building is a total loss
  • Accidental glass breakage including windows and cooktops
  • Damage caused by burnout of electrical motors (fusion damage)

These are just some of the the events that your home and contents insurance may cover. Compare home and contents insurance to find out more.

What is landlord insurance?

Landlord insurance is similar to building insurance but can also include some landlord-specific features such as loss of rent, tenant eviction, legal expenses and malicious acts and damage. Find out more about what landlord insurance is here.

How do we compare home and contents insurance?

CANSTAR currently researches and rates approximately 120 home and contents insurance products from 49 providers to see which products and providers offer customers outstanding home and contents insurance value. Home and contents insurance products are rated across seven regions and two sums insured so that consumers will be able to identify their demographic and create a shortlist of products that may be suitable for their needs.

We help Australians choose between stand-alone building insurance, stand-alone contents insurance and home and contents insurance packages. We analyse the data on a state-by-state basis across different sum insured amounts.

A summary of features that we look for in an outstanding value insurance policy are contained in the Methodology attached to the Home and Contents Insurance Star Ratings report.

The results are reflected in a consumer-friendly five-star concept, with five stars denoting a product offering outstanding value. So whether you’re looking for contents insurance in Queensland, house insurance in Perth, or home and contents insurance in NSW, CANSTAR can help you make a short list of policies to investigate.

How should you compare home and contents insurance?

It’s about working out what insurance issues are important to you. Some things to think about include:

  • What level of home and contents insurance do you want?
  • How many people live in your household?
  • Do you own or are you renting?
  • What state do you live in?
  • Are there any specific risks (for example flooding insurance, fire insurance) that your property may face?
  • Do you have any particularly valuable items that would need additional cover?
  • Do you need cover for accidental damage or malicious damage, or just theft?
  • What is your household situation: do you live with housemates, with your partner, do you have children?

From there, CANSTAR can help you compare features and price of home insurance and contents insurance policies that could suit your needs and you can contact the individual insurers on your short list for more information.

Home and Contents Insurance Glossary of Terms

Understanding the intricacies of home and contents insurance policies can be complex. Below are a few of the more common home and contents-related terms that you’ll need to understand – although keep in mind that policy wording can vary from insurer to insurer. As such this is just a very general guide to some common terms. Please make sure that you carefully read the terms and conditions of any specific policy you are considering, to understand the inclusions and exclusions of that particular policy.

Accidental glass breakage

The accidental breakage of glass contents or glass forming part of contents. Glass contents may include such things as light fittings, glass in furniture and mirrors. It does not usually mean glass in televisions or small glass items such as crystal and ornaments.

Antiques, memorabilia

Given the sometimes-valuable nature of these items, you may find that the item is subject to a maximum dollar claim limit, or if the item cannot be replaced or repaired under the new for old specifications, your insurer may pay you what it would have cost to buy the item immediately before the loss or damage occurred, although your insurer will not pay more than the sum insured for that item.

Building replacement value

The amount it would cost you to totally rebuild your home at today’s prices, including any home improvements you have made.

Certificate of Insurance

The Certificate of Insurance is given to you by your insurer for each period of insurance. It is an important document as it shows the cover you have chosen and other policy details. It is used to verify the existence of that insurance.


‘Contents’ means your unfixed household goods and valuables and personal effects that you own including. It can include some items you may not automatically think of, including:

  • carpets – fixed and unfixed, internal blinds and curtains
  • furniture and furnishings
  • electrical appliances such as TVs, stereos, computers, washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, portable heaters, plug-in lamps
  • wheelchairs and medical equipment
  • household tools and gardening equipment including ride-on mowers
  • firearms legally registered and stored
  • plants in pots
  • portable and above-ground swimming pools and spas in a temporary site and their accessories
  • surfboards, sailboards, canoes, kayaks and non-motorised surf skis

Contents – unit

If you insure contents in a unit, contents can include fixtures and fittings in the unit which are not legally part of the unit building for insurance purposes such as light fittings, wall paint, wall paper, wall coverings, floor coverings, eg floating floors, lino etc, a heater or airconditioning unit that you own.

Make sure your contents sum insured includes these fittings.

Duty of disclosure

You have a Duty of Disclosure to be honest and to tell your insurer everything you know or should know that a reasonable person would consider to be relevant to the insurer’s decision to insure anyone under the policy, including you, and on what terms.

The information you tell them can affect:

  • the amount of your premium
  • if your insurer will insure you
  • if special conditions will apply to your policy.

If you are unsure, it is better to tell your insurer. If you do not tell your insurer something which may be relevant, it could result in a claim being reduced or refused or cancellation of your policy.


The excess is the amount you have to pay for each incident if you make a claim. It is generally deducted from the amount of cover provided by your policy. The amount and type of excess that applies to your policy is shown on your Certificate of Insurance.


Family is generally defined as people who normally live with you and are:

  • your spouse or partner
  • your children or step-children
  • your parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters
  • domestic staff
  • another person who resides with you  – but excludes any person who pays a financial consideration for doing so

Flood cover

The standard definition of flood is:

  • the covering of normally dry land by water that has escaped or been released from the normal confines of:
  • any lake, or any river, creek or other natural watercourse, whether or not altered or modified; or
  • any reservoir, canal, or dam.
  • This is quite separate from damage caused by the sea. If you have concerns in this area, check with your insurer.

Forced entry

Unlawful entry into your home, including entry by using stolen keys or picking locks. It does not mean opening an unlocked door or window.


The actual burning out of an electric motor or its wiring caused by the electric current in it. Therefore the item you are claiming on must have a motor for the claim to be successful. Common items that may be subject to a fusion claim include washing machines, refrigerators, clothes dryers, freezers and pool motors.


‘Home’ means your residential building and its domestic fixtures and domestic structural improvements, at the insured address, including:

  • garages and other domestic outbuildings
  • pergolas, patios, verandas, decking and fixed gazebos
  • wallpaper, paint and coverings on walls or ceilings
  • fixed floor coverings including linoleum (glued down or not), timber floor coverings but not carpets (whether secured to the floor or not) or floor rugs
  • insulation for roofs or walls
  • electrical and gas appliances, light fittings and alarm systems but only if these appliances are permanently connected or plumbed to the electricity or gas supply
  • dishwashers that are housed in a purpose-built cupboard or bench
  • swimming pools and spas in a permanent site and their accessories
  • barbecues (fixed in place)
  • clothes lines (fixed in place)
  • external blinds, fixed shade sails (fixed in place)
  • awnings and fixed shade umbrellas (fixed in place)
  • aerials, fixed satellite dishes (fixed in place) and
  • masts (fixed in place)
  • garden borders, driveways, paths and paving
  • walls, gates and up to 2 kilometres of fencing
  • service pipes and cables that you own or are legally responsible for
  • tennis courts
  • boat jetties and pontoons
  • unfixed home building materials and uninstalled home fittings.

New for old

A provision that if your home or contents are damaged or stolen, your insurer will replace them with new items or repair them with new materials that are available at the time of replacement or repair from Australian suppliers.

Optional cover

This is extra insurance cover above that already included in the standard policy. You can ask your insurer to add one or more optional covers to your policy for an extra premium. An example may be accidental glass breakage, or storm damage to gates and fences. You can discuss with your insurer of choice the optional covers that may be available.

Period of insurance

The time you are covered by the insurance, as shown on your Certificate of Insurance.


Your insurance contract. It consists of this PDS, your application for insurance and your latest Certificate of Insurance.


The amount you pay your insurer for insurance. You also pay stamp duty, GST and any additional government charges, and Fire Services Levy (FSL) if applicable.

Product Disclosure Statement (PDS)

PDS is the name of the document that contains the terms of your insurance cover. It includes information that would have previously been available in the insurance policy booklet. It tells you what cover is provided, details of costs, fees and charges and other important information. It should be read together with your Certificate of Insurance. If there are any changes to your PDS, your insurer should provide you with a Supplementary PDS, or a new PDS.

Sum Insured

The most you can claim for any particular incident. The amount is shown on the Certificate of Insurance or in the PDS. The sum insured includes GST.

Tools of trade

Tools or equipment used for any business activity except for home office equipment.


A home unit, flat, villa or townhouse subdivided according to state or territory strata or unit title laws, or similar laws.

Home (Building) & Contents Insurance Products We Research and Rate

CANSTAR takes pride in helping consumers make better financial decisions and within both home and contents insurance and landlord insurance that means that we endeavor to research and rate as many insurance policies from providers as we can. The secret to our ratings is that we compare on value, not just price. Do you want to buy the cheapest insurance policy on the market? Some do, and so you can sort the policies available based on price, but most want a policy that meets their insurance needs – as well as being affordable!

In terms of both home insurance, contents insurance and combined home and contents insurance policies, CANSTAR rates products across seven regions and two sums insured so that consumers will be able to identify their demographic and create a shortlist of products that may be suitable for their needs.

To be eligible for star ratings, premium quotes have to be available both online and by phone and the provider must provide quotes for all addresses quoted for the specific policy and sum insured level. To be available for an award the product must be available to customers of all ages.

Home (Building) Insurance providers we research and rate

In terms of home insurance and based on 2014 ratings, CANSTAR research and rate the following insurance providers:

  • 1300 Insurance
  • 1Cover Direct
  • AAMI
  • Allianz
  • ANZ
  • AON
  • APIA
  • Aussie
  • Australia Post
  • Australian Seniors Insurance Agency
  • Australian Unity
  • Bank of Melbourne
  • BankSA
  • Bankwest
  • Bendigo Bank
  • BOQ
  • Budget Direct
  • BUPA
  • Catholic Church Insurance
  • CGU
  • Citibank
  • Coles
  • CommInsure
  • CUA
  • GIO
  • Guild Insurance
  • HBF
  • HSBC
  • IMB
  • nab
  • National Seniors Insurance Agency
  • NRMA
  • OnePath
  • People’s Choice CU
  • QBE
  • RAA
  • RACQ
  • RACT
  • RACV
  • Real Insurance
  • SGIC
  • Shannons
  • St.George Bank
  • Suncorp
  • Westpac
  • Woolworths
  • Youi

Contents Insurance providers we research and rate

In terms of contents insurance and based on 2014 ratings, CANSTAR research and rate the following insurance providers:

Other Home Insurance Types