Insuring your home is a must but before you take out or renew a home insurance policy you should make sure you understand what you’re signing up to. Overlooking certain factors could be costly in the long run.
Insuring your home and contents is one of the most essential precautions you can take against unexpected events.
It seems simple: fill in a form online or make a phone call, declare your details and put a value on your property and possessions.. But there are some areas homeowners could easily overlook, leaving themselves open to an invalid insurance policy and big repair or recovery bill if the worst happens.
But you can avoid a home insurance nightmare – and at the same time make sure you’re not paying too much in premiums – if you’re aware of a few grey areas. Read on and we’ll fill you in on what to watch out for.
1. Be careful with your keys
If you’ve got several entrances and lots of windows then chances are you’ll have a lot of keys. Homeowners should make sure these are kept safe. If they get into the wrong hands and someone breaks in, even if it’s an ex or a neighbour, you might not be covered under your home insurance because there’s no forced entry. We explain how keys can invalidate your home insurance.
2. Maintain your home
Check your gutters for blockages, keep your pipes in good condition and service your boiler regularly. These are just some of the routine maintenance checks you should carry out to keep your insurer happy. Otherwise, if something goes wrong, you could find your claim is rejected on the grounds that you haven’t taken reasonable care to maintain your home.
We round-up the main things to look out for when it comes to basic home maintenance.
3. Don’t double up
If you have personal possessions cover then you won’t need to take out additional insurance for items like mobile phones or laptops. Just add them to your policy: many policies with personal possessions cover extend this cover to the entire family, so children at home or away at university may be covered as well.
Likewise, if you’re going on holiday, consider adding away-from-home cover, this will cover your valuables while you're away.
Your home insurance policy may also provide some additional cover for wedding-related items, which may cut out the need for specialist wedding insurance. So, valuables or contents, like wedding presents, could be covered for no extra cost. Some insurers also offer a special uplift in insurance cover around the time you get married to cover items like the wedding dress.
4. Automatic renewals could cost you
Taking your current insurer up on a renewal quote might seem like the most hassle-free way of insuring your home, but loyalty doesn’t always pay. Chances are you’ll get a cheaper deal if you shop around and take out a new policy each year. We show you why you should shop around to avoid soaring renewals.
5. Condition of average
Make sure you give a realistic estimate of the value of your home and contents when you take your home insurance policy out. Many claims are based on a “condition of average”, which could leave you short of a full pay out. For example, say you take out a policy covering £25,000 worth of contents and you’re a victim of theft and the claim is for £5,000. If the loss adjustor estimates that your combined contents is actually worth twice what you’re policy covers, the payout will only cover half the claim, so you’d only get £2,500 back.
6. Keep your insurer up to date
If you buy a new TV or an expensive kitchen for example, tell your insurer so they can add it to your policy. Likewise, if you have an extension built, let your insurer know about it. If it falls down and your insurer didn’t know it existed it would be difficult to make a claim.
7. Don’t stash your cash at home
Most insurers won’t cover you for the replacement of any cash if it’s stolen during a break in at your home. Either that or it’ll be capped, usually at a claim limit of around £500. A recent survey from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme found that more than one in 10 people keep all their cash at home, with some admitting to stashing more than £10,000 in the house.
It may be that you don’t trust the banks, but if the thieves strike and your savings are tucked under your mattress it won’t be well protected by your insurer.
8. Renting ?
If you’re renting a property, don’t rely on your landlord’s insurance to protect you if something goes wrong. It might be their responsibility if the ceiling falls in but it’s unlikely that their insurance will cover damage to, or theft of, your possessions as well.
Alternatively, if you’re renting out your home make sure you notify your insurer. If something happens and you haven’t told them, your policy is likely to be invalid.