Freeholders buildings insurance is not a legal requirement, but may be something that mortgage lenders require. You will not need to check – your mortgage lender will tell you in no uncertain terms.

Even if you don’t have any lender requirement to get buildings insurance, it’s a critical layer of protection for your property and peace of mind. As the owner of (part of) a property with multiple units, as a leasehold property, understanding this insurance is key to safeguarding your investment from unforeseen damages and legal issues. 

This comprehensive guide won’t sell you insurance but will equip you with the knowledge to select a policy that caters to the unique needs of your property, ensuring you fulfill your responsibilities and protect yourself from financial risk.

Remember – if you have any questions on freeholder insurance, your friendly team at Emerald will be able to guide you through the information on freeholder insurance that you need. Call us between 9 and 5 on 0330 113 7109 or get more information HERE.

Key Takeaways

  • Freeholder buildings insurance is designed for property owners and includes coverage for structural damage, third-party liability, and in some cases, alternative accommodation or loss of rent. It is more complex than standard insurance and is critical for legal compliance and financial protection against property-related risks.
  • There are several names for freeholder building insurance, like joint freeholder building insurance for co-freeholders and block of flats insurance for multi-unit dwellings, but ultimately each of these is the same structure – to protect the fabric of the whole building and each leasehold property.
  • The cost of freeholder building insurance premiums is influenced by factors such as rebuild cost, property location, occupancy type, and the freeholder’s personal claims history, which insurers use to assess risk and determine pricing.

Understanding Building Insurance for Freeholders

Illustration of a multi-unit property with 'Building Insurance for Freeholders' text

At the heart of property ownership lies the responsibility to protect your investment. As a freeholder or joint freeholder, you secure building insurance, a risk management solution that covers the distinct risks involved in owning properties such as blocks of flats or leasehold units. This insurance is your bulwark against such predicaments, offering cover for:

  • Structural damage/subsidence
  • Burst pipes
  • Break-ins
  • Third-party liability claims
  • Alternative accommodation if the property becomes uninhabitable

Imagine the calamity of structural damage without a safety net or the financial strain from third-party liability claims. Likely, this is too much to be covered by your service charge. This buildings insurance for freeholders is your bulwark against such predicaments, offering cover for not just the bricks and mortar but also for incidents like burst pipes, break-ins, vandalism and even alternative accommodation if the property becomes uninhabitable.

Unlike standard home insurance, freeholder buildings insurance is a specialised form of landlord insurance that caters to the specific needs of property owners with multiple residents under their care – even if the freeholder and the leaseholders are often the same parties. 

Buildings insurance that covers freeholders is not something you’ll typically find on common comparison sites, even if you look for freeholder insurance; it requires a diligent search for specific providers or brokers who understand the intricacies of arranging freeholders buildings insurance cover. 

This short guide offers a comprehensive understanding of freeholder insurance and how it ties into leasehold property, helping you protect your property effectively with the right freehold insurance. If you have any further questions, call Emerald on 0330 113 7109 or look at our freeholders buildings insurance page HERE.

Responsibilities of a Freeholder For Buildings Insurance Cover

The mantle of a freeholder comes with a set of responsibilities that are not to be taken lightly. Adhering to rules such as those in the law but also local council regulations is not optional; failure to do so could lead to criminal prosecution or severe financial penalties. 

This is more difficult where the freeholder is also not one of the leaseholders – they still have to arrange buildings insurance cover and then recharge it to the leaseholders through the service charge for the whole building. 

Think of insurance as your compliance ally, ensuring you meet your legal obligations to provide adequate building insurance cover, which includes the physical structure and permanent fixtures of the property.

It’s the freeholder who initially arranges and pays for this insurance, often recouping the cost through service charges paid by leaseholders. But bear in mind, it’s more than just about following the rules. The freeholder’s responsibilities also include maintaining the building’s exterior and common parts unless the right to manage these areas is given to the leaseholders. 

And if you are a separate freeholder and think leaseholders won’t notice subpar services, think again. They have the legal right to challenge freeholders for unreasonable service charges or unsatisfactory services, including inadequate buildings insurance. This is both in the lease terms and legisation covering leasehold property. 

Leasehold vs. Freehold Properties – Some Background

The terms ‘leasehold’ and ‘freehold’ might sound interchangeable, but their differences are significant. Leasehold property ownership is akin to a long-term rental of the land, typically lasting for decades, if not centuries. On the other hand, freehold ownership implies that you possess both the building and the land, along with the responsibility for managing and maintaining the property. 

While a leaseholder’s concerns are mostly confined to contents insurance, the freeholder is the one charged with insuring the property’s physical structure. And where leaseholders and the freeholder are the same party, then everyone needs to be clear on the difference between buildings and contents.

For leaseholders, their financial contributions towards the property’s upkeep come in the form of the service charge, which service charge cover costs including buildings insurance. As a freeholder, providing this insurance is part of your remit, and leaseholders can even request to see the policy to ensure their homes are adequately protected. 

And let’s not forget the service charge, a fee paid by leaseholders for the privilege of occupying the land, means that the leaseholders are paying for their freehold insurance, not the freeholder. Freeholders often also provide a breakdown of the service charge, so that leaseholders within that freehold property can see how much of the service charge is insurance. 

When it comes to insurance, freehold policies are tailored to properties with more than one dwelling – so leasehold properties within a whole building, marking a clear distinction from standard home insurance. Should leaseholders collectively acquire the freehold, they transition to share of freehold, absorbing the responsibilities associated with building management, maintenance, and insurance.

Types of Freeholder Buildings Insurance

Illustration of joint freeholder building insurance

Navigating the seas of freeholder building insurance, one encounters a variety of providers, each catering for these specific ownership arrangements. The insurance landscape here is diverse, catering to the unique demands of properties with multiple units. 

Whether you’re in a joint ownership situation or managing a block of flats, there’s a policy tailored to your needs. In this section, we cast a spotlight on the two primary types of insurance that freeholders should be aware of: joint freeholder building insurance for co-freeholders and block of flats insurance for those overseeing multi-unit dwellings. But – please note – although those names are different, there is much overlap within this buildings insurance cover. 

These policies, known as buildings insurance policy, not only provide building insurance cover but also address the unique risks and requirements associated with different ownership structures. As we explore each type, remember that these are specialised policies, not generic ones available off the shelf. They require a discerning eye and a clear understanding of your property’s specifics to ensure you’re not just insured but well-insured with appropriate insurance cover. This will be the responsibility of the freeholder, but that may well also be you as a leaseholder.

Joint Freeholders – Flats Buildings Insurance

Joint freeholder building insurance is required when the freehold of a property is split amongst several parties. This type of policy acknowledges the collective interest in the property, with all co-freeholders named on the policy schedule to ensure comprehensive coverage for everyone involved. Imagine a scenario where a claim involves multiple flats; with a joint policy, one would typically only need to pay a single excess for the entire claim, mitigating the financial impact on each co-freeholder.

Tailoring a joint freeholder policy requires a meticulous approach, considering the details of all joint owners so that in the event of a claim, payouts and responsibilities are appropriately shared. It’s worth noting that residential buildings insurance won’t suffice for these circumstances; freeholders must specifically acquire landlord’s building insurance to meet the nuanced demands of a residential freehold building.

When the building is home to just a handful of units, or when forming a jointly owned company isn’t practical, this insurance becomes particularly relevant.

Block of Flats Insurance

Block of flats insurance illustration

A standard block insurance policy will need to cater to the complex needs of a block of flats property. Flats insurance cover, also known as flats buildings insurance or block of flats insurance, is crafted with the intricacies of multi-unit buildings in mind, ensuring not just coverage for the structure but also for communal areas and even the annoying occurrences like pet damage. I

t’s a comprehensive protective measure, designed to foot the bill for repairs if the building is damaged by insured perils like fire or flood and also covers communal gardens and communal areas – and it is important to chat that those communal areas are mentioned in the policy terms.

The responsibility of arranging this specialised cover lies with the freeholder, who might be an individual, a partnership, a group of individuals, or a management company, arranging buildings insurance. This insurance often goes beyond basic coverage to include loss of rent or alternative accommodations while repairs are carried out after an insured loss, hence minimising disruption for residents. 

While personal contents within individual flats aren’t typically covered, the policy may safeguard communal contents, and it’s essential to consider the number of units and communal features when selecting your block cover. 

Remember, premiums are influenced by factors such as the number of units and occupancy rates, so engaging with insurers specialising in landlord or multi-unit property insurance is key.

Key Components of Freeholder Building Insurance

Illustration of property protection under freeholder building insurance

Peering into the heart of freeholder building insurance, we find a trio of core components that form the foundation of any solid policy: property protection, public liability, and communal area coverage (that link the multiple flats). These elements together secure and protect your property investment, offering a comprehensive safety net against a wide variety of risks. A well-constructed freeholder insurance policy should cover not just the obvious damages like fire or flood but also the less thought-of issues such as alternative accommodation, accidental damage or loss of rent, ensuring that your insurance serves as a true bastion of protection.

One of the most appealing features of these policies is the single excess per incident in cases of damage affecting multiple flats, simplifying the claims process for freeholders. It’s a holistic approach to risk management, with the policy extending its protective embrace not just over the physical structure but also over potential legal challenges and the communal heart of the property.

Property Protection

Property protection coverage is the heart of freeholder building insurance. This is where the policy proves its worth, stepping in to cover a gamut of damages ranging from the catastrophic to the mundane. From the ravages of a fire to the inconvenience of a break-in, the insurance stands as your property’s first line of defence. And should misfortune render your property uninhabitable, the policy’s provision for alternative accommodation expenses is a much-needed lifeline for a displaced resident.

But the reach of property protection doesn’t end there. With features like trace and access coverage for elusive leaks, landlord insurance covers for those proper that are rented and inflation protection to ensure the sum insured keeps pace with the times, your insurance is both responsive and resilient. It’s a testament to the foresight embedded in these policies, crafting a coverage that not only responds to today’s needs but also anticipates tomorrow’s challenges.

Third-Party Liability Cover

Third-party liability cover, which extends beyond the property itself, guards against legal claims for injuries or damages caused by the property. In an age where litigation is not uncommon, this component of freeholder insurance is indispensable. It’s a safeguard that can protect the freeholder from the financial fallout of complex claims, with coverage typically spanning from £2 million to £5 million. Note that with Emerald, our cover is £5 million, to give you that extra comfort.

This liability cover is not just a financial buffer; it’s a source of reassurance, providing legal cost assistance should the property inflict injury or financial loss on someone else. From falling debris to accidents during maintenance work, the policy ensures that you, as a freeholder, are not left to face the consequences alone. It’s a comprehensive safety net that underscores the holistic nature of freeholder building insurance, fortifying your position against the vicissitudes of property ownership.

Communal Area Coverage

Communal spaces within a freehold property are vital for its residents. Communal area coverage prioritizes the protection of these shared areas. Whether it’s the hallways that connect lives or the gardens that offer a respite from urban bustle, this coverage ensures that the communal spirit remains unbroken, even when the unexpected strikes.

The policy may also extend to less visible, yet vital aspects of communal living, such as replacement keys for communal entry points if lost or stolen. When selecting insurance, it’s essential to consider the specific features of your property, ensuring that coverage encompasses not just the interior but also those exterior and common parts that contribute to the quality of life for residents.

Factors Affecting Freeholder Building Insurance Costs

Illustration of factors affecting freeholder building insurance costs

While protecting your property is paramount, the cost of carrying such protection is a consideration that cannot be ignored. Freeholder building insurance premiums are influenced by various factors, not just arbitrary figures. These include:

  • The rebuild cost of the property
  • Its location
  • Occupancy rates
  • The freeholder’s personal insurance history or histories

It’s a blend of variables that come together to determine how much you’ll pay to keep your property safeguarded against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

The rebuild value significantly influences insurance premiums. The higher the cost to restore your property, the higher the insurance cost. But it’s not just about the bricks and mortar; properties in high-risk areas, such as flood zones, or those with high occupancy rates, especially if involving commercial tenants, face increased premiums due to the heightened risk profile. Furthermore, a history marred by multiple claims can see costs climb, as insurers perceive a greater likelihood of future claims.

Rebuild Cost

The price to shield your property from harm with buildings insurance is significantly swayed by the rebuild cost. This figure is not simply an estimate but a detailed calculation of the total expenses that would be required to reconstruct the property from the ground up after a total loss, including demolition, debris clearance, and the cost of materials and labour. It’s the cornerstone of your insurance policy, the bedrock upon which your premiums are calculated.

Having an accurate rebuild cost is like having a well-fitted armour; it ensures that you’re neither underinsured nor overpaying for your cover. It’s a number that should reflect the current state of your property and account for any improvements or changes made. Engaging professional chartered surveyors to provide an up-to-date reinstatement valuation is a prudent step to ensure that your insurance is in lockstep with your property’s actual value.

Location and Occupancy

The plot on which your property stands and the vibrancy within its walls can either inflate or alleviate your insurance costs. A property perched in an area prone to natural disasters or one nestled in a neighborhood with a reputation for crime will inevitably attract higher premiums. The insurers’ rationale is straightforward: the greater the risk of a claim, the higher the cost to protect against it. Conversely, proximity to emergency services or a less calamity-prone locale can ease the strain on your wallet.

Occupancy is another factor that influences this cost matrix. A fully inhabited building suggests a lower likelihood of undetected issues, such as leaks or vandalism, which can mean lower premiums. However, high tenant turnover or vacancies can signal potential risks to insurers, nudging premiums upward. Additionally, inflation and material shortages can lead to a surge in rebuilding costs, prompting a corresponding rise in insurance premiums.

Personal Insurance History

Your track record as a freeholder, particularly your claims history, is a personal ledger that insurers check with a fine-tooth comb. A history peppered with frequent claims paints a picture of higher risk, prompting insurers to fortify their own defenses with higher premiums – or even to refuse to offer buildings cover at all. Each claim is a storyline, with some narratives — such as those involving water damage or theft — having more significant implications on future costs than others.

In the world of insurance, the past is often a prologue to the future. Freeholders who have managed to steer clear of claims, or who have only occasionally called upon their policies, are seen as safer bets and are often rewarded with more favorable rates. It’s a testament to the merit of maintaining a property meticulously and managing risks proactively.

Tips for Choosing the Right Freeholder Building Insurance

Having understood what influences insurance costs, you can now begin the process of selecting the right freeholder building insurance. This is no idle quest; it’s a strategic endeavor that requires comparing policies, assessing personal needs, and seeking expert advice to ensure you’re not just covered but well-covered. But where does one start? What should one look for? The following tips are akin to a compass, guiding you through the murky waters of policy selection to find the treasure that is comprehensive and cost-effective coverage.

Consider additional coverage that extends beyond the standard scope, such as Home Emergency, which is beneficial in times of urgent property issues. And remember, the insurance landscape is not static; it’s a living, breathing entity that demands regular policy reviews, especially after any property alterations or changes in use, to ensure that your coverage continues to align with your evolving needs.

Comparing Policies and Providers

In the marketplace of freeholder building insurance, not all policies are crafted equal. Comparing offerings from different providers is akin to surveying the land before a battle; it enables you to identify your best options and strategise accordingly. Whether you’re considering award-winning insurers giants like Emerald Life, or more niche providers, the key is to obtain personalised quotes that reflect your property’s unique profile.

Assessing Your Needs

Every property tells a different story, and understanding the narrative of your own is crucial when selecting insurance. It’s about knowing the risks unique to your building and ensuring your coverage addresses them. For example, if your reinstatement valuation indicates increasing costs, this should reflect in your coverage to avoid underinsurance. Equally important is the level of property owner liability cover; depending on your property, you might need to opt for higher bands to ensure adequate protection.

When assessing your needs, consider the full spectrum of what your building insurance should encompass. It’s not just about the structure but also about the potential risks, from the physical to the legal. It’s a balancing act, one where the scales should tip in favor of comprehensive protection without tilting towards the unnecessary.

Seeking Expert Advice

The path to securing the right freeholder building insurance is often winding and laden with complexities that can confound even the most astute property owner. This is where seeking expert advice becomes invaluable. Specialised providers possess the acumen to navigate the nuances of freeholder insurance, providing tailored underwriting that addresses the specific needs of properties with multiple ownership stakes.

For those who find the intricacies of insurance daunting, a property management company can serve as a stalwart ally, assisting with the arrangement and management of building insurance. And let’s not overlook the role of solicitors specialising in property law, who can offer essential legal advice on compliance and lease matters, ensuring that your insurance is not only adequate but also lawful.


As we draw the curtains on this comprehensive guide to freeholder building insurance, we reflect on the journey taken. We’ve navigated through the responsibilities of freeholders, differentiated between leasehold and freehold properties, and explored the various types of insurance tailored to these unique property arrangements. We’ve delved into the key components of a policy, examined the factors affecting insurance costs, and shared actionable tips for choosing the right cover.

Remember, freeholder building insurance is not just a regulatory requirement; it’s a strategic asset that protects your investment and provides peace of mind. Armed with the knowledge from this guide, you are now equipped to make informed decisions, select the right coverage, and fortify your property against the uncertainties of the future. Embrace the role of a responsible freeholder, and let your insurance serve as the shield that guards the realms of your property.

To get your no obligation quote from Emerald in just minutes, call us on 0330 113 7109, or click HERE.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a freeholder need building insurance?

Yes, a freeholder typically needs to ensure the whole building has appropriate building insurance cover, which is usually divided equally between all the leaseholders who own a flat in the property. This responsibility is typically outlined in the lease agreement and recouped as part of the service charge along with ground rent as part of your annual service charge bill. 

How do I insure a share of freehold property?

As a freeholder or a share of freeholder, it is your responsibility to arrange the buildings block insurance cover for the whole property. This can be done directly or through a property management company. It’s important to have buildings insurance, especially if you have a mortgage on the property.

Do you need buildings insurance if you live in a block of flats?

If you live in a block of flats, you may not need buildings insurance, but it’s important to also have contents insurance to protect your belongings. However, if you own the freehold or a share of the freehold, you are generally responsible for getting buildings insurance.

What exactly does freeholder building insurance cover?

Freeholder building insurance covers the property’s structure, including fire, theft, accidental damage, and sometimes communal areas, as well as third-party liability, and may provide alternative accommodation if the property becomes uninhabitable.

How do joint freeholder building insurance policies work?

In a joint freeholder building insurance policy, multiple property owners are named on the policy schedule, ensuring all parties’ interests are protected and typically requiring only one excess per claim, even for multiple flats. This simplifies the claims process and provides comprehensive coverage.

Any other questions? 

Call or contact Emerald and we will be happy to help. You can call us on 0330 113 7109 or click HERE.