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7 things that could invalidate your buildings insurance claim

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From dodgy DIY work to unwelcome visitors, here are a few reasons for buildings insurance claims to be turned down.

1. Leaving your house unoccupied

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If you’re going away on a long trip, great for you!

But if your house is left empty for more than 30 consecutive days and something happens, your insurer may turn down any claims you make under their "vacancy" exclusion clause.

Unoccupied houses are more at risk of being beaten up by the elements, suffering from wear and tear, and being burgled.

So if your home experiences fire, flood or any other kind of damage during that time, your insurer could refuse to pay out.

Solution: If your long stay away is a one-off, call your insurer and they may be able to arrange temporary cover – although probably at a cost.

If your home is regularly unoccupied, you may need to consider a specialist policy.

2. Home DIY fails

Lightswitches

Before you open your tool box to do some DIY on your home, check your policy. Most buildings insurance policies don’t cover accidental damage as standard.

So if you accidentally drill through your water pipes or commit a serious DIY fail, you could find yourself out of pocket if your insurer refuses to pay out for repairs.

Solution: Check your existing policy before getting started, and consider adding accidental damage to cover any mishaps.

3. Deliberate damage

Panda using a computer

Any damage you do on purpose can also invalidate your policy.

For instance, if you’re having a house party, any deliberate damage caused to your home could leave you with a hefty bill to pick up at the end of the night.

So if any of your guests tries to channel their inner Keith Moon, you’ll end up with more than a sore head.

Solution: For starters, don’t trash your own house. Also, be extra careful about who you let into your home.

4. Letting the place fall apart

Futurama meme

If you fail to fix your leaky roof or your home is damaged from water overflowing from a blocked gutter, your insurer may refuse your claim.

Making regular checks on your roof, guttering and wires takes no time at all and could save you in the long run.

Solution: Keep your house in a good state of repair, especially during the winter when it’s most vulnerable.

5. Adding value to your home

If you’re adding a shiny new extension or a loft conversion it’s worth giving your insurer a ring as your house’s rebuild costs are likely to increase.

Your buildings insurance policy needs to how much it could cost to rebuild your home from scratch, otherwise you could wind up underinsured and have to cover any shortfall.

Also, if you get builders in to do the work for you, make sure that they have public liability cover in case they damage anything belonging to you or your neighbours.

Solution: Check with your insurer to make sure everything is covered before starting your new project.

6. Rats and mice

Mouse meme

Some home policies won’t cover you for damage cause by vermin.

These fellas could chew through wires and cause a fire. So if you spot any signs of rats or mice, it’s best to take action early.

The definition of what species count as vermin change between insurers, so check which pests are covered with your policy.

Solution: Most local councils have a pest control department. Give them a call and see what they can do.

7. Not telling your insurer that you’re an Airbnb host

Gizmo

Welcoming Airbnb guests without checking with your insurer first could come with an unwelcome cost.

If your walls or plumbing are damaged by your Airbnb guest, and you fail to tell your insurer, your claim may be rejected.

Airbnb offers limited cover for hosts as part of its Host Guarantee, but this shouldn’t be thought of as a replacement for insurance.

This all falls under what insurance companies call “non-disclosure”.

If you fail to keep them informed about changes to your house, eg having Airbnb guests, they may decide that your policy is invalid.

Solution: Speak to your insurer to check the implications this will have on your policy before renting.

You should also check if you have a public liability cover in case anyone injures themselves when staying at your home.

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