Don't get caught out
Do you own your own home? / Are you a landlord?
It is your responsibility to have buildings cover, just in case your home is damaged and needs repair. This is usually a condition of your mortgage and in the case of an active landlord, it is your responsibility, not your tenants. If you own your own home, although it is not compulsory, this sort of insurance should be a top priority.
Repairing your home can be an expensive process costing a yearly average of £263 for buildings only policies. Comparing the various policies on offer can save you money. You may have additional excess limits on your policy, e.g. up to £1,000 for subsistence claims, but this can still be cheaper than paying the whole amount. Insurers are increasing their amount of exclusions to their policies so you’ll need to carefully read the small print.
Home insurance is a general term used to describe two very different types of insurance. Both of which can be bought separately, or in many cases, you can get them as a joint policy from one insurance company.
The two insurances under the ‘Home Insurance’ category are:
For permanent fixtures and fittings i.e. kitchens and bathrooms.
This policy covers damage to your home’s structure, i.e. walls, roof and flooring. It usually covers damage to fixtures and fittings too. So, if you’ve got a fitted kitchen or bathroom, your insurance is likely to pay for any repairs you need.
Your buildings insurance is in place to cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it’s damaged. Policies differ between each insurance company with what events you’re covered for. You won’t be covered for general wear and tear on the home and each policy will have its own exclusions, often including leaking gutters, pest infestation and frost. In some cases, you may receive cover for other structures around the home such as garages, outside walls and driveways.
In the majority of cases, you will be able to make an eligible claim in the event of:
- falling trees
- natural events i.e. storms/floods
- car / lorry collisions
- fire, smoke, explosions
- water damage from leaking pipes
- oil leaking from your heating system
You can’t normally claim for loss or damage which happens whilst your property has been left unoccupied for more than 30 or 60 days. Many insurers will let you arrange cover if you let them know in advance. Storm damage to gates and fences is also unlikely to be covered. Exclusions vary from one policy to the next so make sure you read the policy carefully.
If you own a leasehold flat, the building may already be insured by the landlord/owner of the freehold. Talk to your solicitor for advice on whether or not your lease means that you have to take out buildings insurance.
If you live in a flat where the leaseholders have shared the cot of the freehold from the landlord, then you may have to arrange buildings cover. You can do this individually, however your cheaper, easier option may be to get together with neighbours to take out a block policy to cover you all.
Talking to a Silvergate Insurance Broker will provide you with expert advice and full detail of your options.
You don’t need buildings insurance if you’re renting a property, because it is your landlord’s responsibility to sort out a buildings insurance policy. If you’re a tenant, you might want to consider taking out home contents insurance cover.
For personal belongings / things you keep in your home such as furniture, electrical goods, clothing, jewellery and some types of flooring including carpets. This type of insurance covers damage or loss to all items in your home which are not a part of the structure or the building for an average annual cost of £139.
Just how valuable are your valuables?
How would you cope should you lose your possessions in the event of a robbery or a fire?
Your mortgage advisor will not insist on you taking out contents insurance, unlike buildings insurance. However, it is a good idea to have contents insurance in place should the unexpected happen and there is an event such as a fire or a burglary.
Levels of cover will differ between policies but generally, you will be covered against theft, fire and flood. ‘Accidental damage cover’ tends to be optional so do not assume that it is included in your policy. ‘Personal possessions cover’ is also an optional extra. This will cover your items which you take outside of your home - such as jewellery, mobile phones, cameras and laptops.
There are some insurance policies which will also cover you when you go abroad, so any loss or damage to your possessions while you’re away, will be eligible for a claim on your contents insurance. This is also usually an optional extra which you may pay a higher premium for.
As with all insurance policies there are a number of things which won’t be covered by contents insurance. Depending on your policy, this could include wear and tear, the structure of your home such as the walls and the roof (you’ll need to cover these with a buildings insurance policy), damage to a computer caused by a virus. Valuables cover usually consists of a single item limit or a total amount for all of your valuables, and many contents policies have a single item limit of just £1,500.
If you’ve got expensive items such as jewellery or works of art, you might need to buy extra cover for these when you take out your policy.
You will have an excess on your contents insurance which means you will need to pay a minimum amount per each claim made.
For example, if you make a £300 claim and your excess is £250 then you will only get £50 from your insurer.
It’s important to fully understand the terms and conditions of your policy and any exclusions (things that aren’t covered) so that you know what you can and cannot claim for.