You may think your home is insured, but if your home is not insured or is underinsured, you could face a bill for property damage worth thousands of pounds.
Have you heard of the phrase ‘safe as houses’? It’s a saying that makes us feel secure. However, your home is only as secure as the coverage you have on your home insurance policy. For instance, you might be surprised to learn that your home insurance policy may not provide cover for all types of property damage. We want to make sure everyone has sufficient insurance cover and we would encourage everyone to check if they are insured.
Does your home have to be insured?
You aren’t legally obliged to have home insurance (sometimes referred to as buildings and contents insurance). However, most people prefer to have peace of mind by protecting their home with buildings and contents insurance.
Most mortgage lenders will require you to have buildings insurance. This needs to be sufficient to cover the cost of a rebuild. However, just because you have buildings insurance, does not mean that your contents are protected. Typically, contents insurance is a separate insurance policy.
What happens if your home isn’t insured?
If you don’t have home insurance, then you will have to cover the cost of any loss. For example, if you suffer property damage, theft or even accidental damage, the onus is on the homeowner or tenant to pay to fix the damage or replace lost or damaged items. If you don’t have home insurance, then you could be facing a huge bill some day.
Can you insure a home if your name is not on the mortgage?
You can take out an insurance policy for ‘contents’ if you don’t ‘own’ the property. However, buildings insurance must be in the name of the property owner.
For example, if you have a mortgage, you would be considered to be the owner of the property. Therefore the buildings insurance policy should be in your name. However, if you rent your home from a landlord, you would not require buildings insurance. We would recommend those who rent to have their own home contents insurance cover. You should also ask your landlord if they have landlord insurance.
How do I find out if I have home insurance?
There are two types of people. There are those who change their insurance provider every year and there are those who let their policies auto-renew. However, there are some people who fall into a third category: those who think they are insured, but actually aren’t.
For various reasons, people often think they have insurance, when actually they don’t. Not every insurance policy auto-renews. Sometimes payment details change and renewal reminders don’t get paid. At other times people assume, because they have a mortgage and have buildings cover, that this also covers their home contents. But that’s not often the case.
Do you know if you have buildings and contents insurance?
Here are a few tips you can use to find out.
- Where do you keep your important documents?
Are your policy documents stored there?
Are they up to date?
- I can’t find my insurance documents.
Do you remember the name of the insurance broker or insurance company?
Did you buy your insurance online?
Try searching through your email.
Check your bank or credit card statements for a payment to an insurance company.
- You have insurance but don’t have any documents.
If you bought your insurance online, you should be able to access your documents via their website. Or you could give them a call and ask them to reissue the policy documents to you.
Is home insurance and buildings insurance the same?
No. It’s important to note that insurance companies sell different types of insurance:
Buildings Insurance; Household Contents Insurance; and a Combined Buildings and Contents Policy.
What is Buildings Insurance?
According to the Association of British Insurers:
“Buildings insurance protects you against the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it is damaged or destroyed. It covers the structure of your home (e.g. the roof, walls and windows) and any permanent fixtures and fittings, such as fitted kitchen units and bathroom suites.”
If you have buildings insurance you should be protected against fire damage, flood damage, water damage, subsidence, storm damage, burst pipes, and theft. But please check your policy today to find out your level of cover.
What is Household Contents Insurance?
“Contents insurance covers the cost of replacing or repairing your possessions if they are damaged, destroyed or stolen. It includes everything you would take with you if you moved home including your furniture, kitchen appliances, curtains, bedding, clothing, television, computing equipment and jewellery.” Association of British Insurers.
Your contents insurance policy should cover the cost of replacing or repairing items damaged by fire damage, flood damage, subsidence and theft. You should check your policy to find out the level of cover you have.
If you have any questions about your level of cover, please call PCLA today to ask for free advice.
These 10 actions might invalidate your home insurance
1. You don’t have sufficient cover
Buying home insurance is not as straightforward as it may seem. You may have been persuaded to take out a policy at the same time as your mortgage, but does it provide the cover you actually need? For example, you may have buildings cover, but not home contents insurance.
PCLA are expert insurance claims advisors. If you have any doubts about the level of cover you have, please contact us today for free advice.
2. You make changes to property
Have you recently fitted new windows or doors? Or maybe you have completed a renovation? Whenever you make changes to your home, it’s always best to inform your insurance provider of those changes. Some changes could lower your insurance premium while others could invalidate your cover.
3. You Airbnb your spare room
In most circumstances, you should inform your insurance company that you plan to rent a room in your house to a stranger. You may require a different policy. Failure to disclose, may cause issues if you need to make a claim.
4. You don’t have a home inventory
It’s a good idea to maintain a list of all the expensive items you have at home. This will make sure you have the correct level of cover and also make it easier, should you need to make an insurance claim. Please don’t inflate the value of these items. A good loss assessor will be able to negotiate a settlement that benefits you, so you don’t need to overestimate the value of your possessions.
5. Make sure you remember to lock your doors and windows
If a burglar accesses your home via an unlocked door, it’s unlikely your insurance company will pay out.
6. Failing to maintain your property
Putting off getting a minor leak fixed might save you time in the beginning, but it may invalidate any future insurance claims. Look for ‘wear and tear’ wording in your policy to see how you could be affected if you don’t maintain your property.
If you have an infestation of pests, you should take immediate action. Damage caused by pests may not be covered by your buildings insurance policy or your home contents insurance.
8. Flood risk
Unpredictable weather events are increasing the risks of flooding. Make sure your policy includes flood protection. If you have suffered flood damage and need assistance, please contact PCLA to find out how we can help you.
9. Calling the police
If you discover that your home has been broken into, you should contact the police as soon as possible. You will need a crime reference number to give to your insurance company. If you’ve suffered a break in, please call PCLA today. We understand how stressful this can be and will do our best to ensure you get your full entitlement.
10. Documenting the Damage
If you have a fire in your house, the last thing you’ll want to do is document all of the damage. But your insurance company will require a schedule of loss. As expert loss assessors, PCLA will compile all of the necessary paperwork that your insurance company requires.
Find out if your home is insured today
The only way to know if you are insured, is to follow the simple steps above. If you don’t understand your policy, call PCLA to ask for free advice.
If you or anyone you know needs help making a home insurance claim, call PCLA today.
A loss assessor will manage any type of insurance claim covered by an insurance policy. In this article, we’ll uncover the reasons why you should consider working with a loss assessor if you need to make an insurance claim for property damage.
Do you struggle to understand your home insurance policy? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Even though these documents are complex, they often contain standard terms that you will see throughout the document. Here’s everything you need to know about the most common home insurance terms in your policy.
The easiest way to explain the difference is to understand their respective roles. A loss adjuster works for the insurance company.
A loss assessor works for you (the policy holder).