Insuring your home can be a bewildering experience. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject of building insurance policies – that is, insurance for the actual building itself, as opposed to the contents.
What does buildings insurance cover? As the name implies, buildings insurance is intended to protect your home's structure, including permanent fittings, such as kitchen units, bathrooms, wiring, plumbing, doors and windows from damage or loss. Wear and tear is not covered, as you are responsible for maintenance of your property. Your furniture and other items are not covered - for this you will need a contents insurance policy.
What does buildings insurance protect against? Typically, buildings insurance offers cover for a range of risks including damage from fire, storm, flood, earthquake, lightning, explosions, landslips, subsidence and heave, theft, falling trees, objects falling from aircraft, impact from vehicles or aircraft, riots, vandalism, water leakage, oil leakage, etc. You may also be covered for your liability in the event of damage to other people or their property, accidental damage to utilities and glass replacement, but, as ever, policies vary from provider to provider, so you should check your policy documents for full details, or speak to an adviser.
Will my shed or garage be covered? This depends on the policy. In many cases sheds, garages, boundary walls and other ancillary structures are covered, but this is not so for all policies, or may attract an extra cost. It is best to confirm your cover with an adviser if in doubt.
Do I have to insure my home? Legally, not necessarily – if you have a mortgage, your mortgage provider will probably insist on it, although you are not obliged to use their recommended insurer and you will probably save money if you shop around. As your home is probably your biggest investment, you should protect it.
Why is my home buildings insurance so expensive? There are many factors that affect the price of insurance cover, but if you are using the insurer recommended by your mortgage provider you can probably save money by shopping around. As a broker, Adrian Flux, has access to dozens of home insurance providers and can find you the most appropriate cover for your situation at a competitive price. If the cost seems high, don’t be afraid to ask about ways to cut the price of the premium.
Can I get no claims bonus on house insurance? Yes. If no claims are made on the policy, most home insurance companies will offer a discount for a claim-free history.
How can I save money on my buildings insurance? Fitting security and safety equipment to you home can attract substantial discounts. Smoke alarms, intruder alarms and door and window locks all qualify for a reduction, but other items may also save you money depending on your situation. Be sure to ask one of our underwriting staff for advice.
My building policy’s rebuild costs seem very high. Is that right? Some insurers include 'blanket cover' for the rebuild insurance on the house. What this means is that the cover will be a blanket figure of up to, say, £500,000. If your rebuild costs are likely to be much lower, ask for a quote for insurance based on that specific figure – it may save you money. If you switch insurers, be sure to give an accurate rebuild cost estimate – if you supply a higher (blanket) figure you’ll be paying extra for nothing. Always be sure not to skimp on rebuild cover though, as the true costs only become apparent in the event of a claim - the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors have a rebuilding cost calculator.
Do I need building insurance if I rent a property? No. As a renter, though, you should consider tenants contents cover, but your landlord should pay for landlords building insurance.
Will I be able to get insurance for a house that’s suffered subsidence and been underpinned? Basically, yes – provided there’s an engineer’s report to confirm that any problem has been sorted permanently. Using a specialist broker is the best way to find cover for properties affected by subsidence. Properties that have been underpinned due to building regulations, as a result of an extension rather than structural movement, are a lot easier to insure and a full report may not be necessary. However, some sort of documented proof will usually be requested.
How about insurance for properties that are at risk of flooding? You should be able to get full cover provided the necessary action has been taken to avoid flooding in the future. Again, speaking to a specialist broker, such as Adrian Flux.
Why don’t insurance companies like thatched properties? Because of the perceived extra risk of fire and high replacement costs. In reality owners tend to be aware of the extra risk and often take extra precautions. Some providers are happy to insure thatched properties, though there will be a premium to cover the risk.
For more information, check out the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
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