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Owning or renting a property is hard enough without having to worry about Household Insurance.
You could go to one of the supermarket insurance sites, maybe get it a few pennies cheaper and cross your fingers in the hope that you don’t have to make a claim.
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You home is without doubt your most valuable asset but incidents happen which can potentially destroy or severely damage your property. With this in mind, you need to be certain that you are covered with the relevant insurance. Buildings and contents insurance provides you with peace of mind by protecting both the structure of your home and the contents located within it. Your postcode for Buildings and contents insurance can make a large difference to the premium. To source the best premium you will need the following information:
- Number of bedrooms
- Date of Birth of applicant(s)
- Type of property (detached, terraced etc)
- Any previous claims made
- Whether you require Accidental damage
- Do you have 5 lever locks
- Do you have neighbourhood watch
- Construction of the property
- Do you require personal possession cover
- Year the property was built
- Are there any smokers in the house
- Is there a smoke alarm?
- Do you wish to specify any high value items
Some insurers may require further information. Search now for a competitive Buildings and content quotation
What is covered
Buildings insurance covers the cost of damage to the structure of your property. This includes the roof, walls, ceilings, floors, doors and windows. Outdoor structures such as garages and fences are also included.
Buildings insurance covers permanent fixtures and fittings, interior decoration and underground tanks, pipes, cables, and drains for which you are responsible from your home to the mains supply.
Your buildings insurance should cover the full cost of rebuilding the property. This should include costs such as demolition, clearing the site, and architect’s fees. Make sure any special features such as a luxury fitted kitchen or a conservatory are also included. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) produces yearly guidelines on rebuilding costs. You can find this at www.abi.org.uk. If you are not sure of the rebuild value you can get insurance based on £300,000 to £500,000 which is usually ample. You can get a comparison building and contents here. Remember, this is not the value of your property, it is the rebuild value. Normally it is lower but in some areas the rebuild value may be higher.
Buildings insurance usually covers loss or damage that occurs as a result of:
- bad weather, including lightning, storms and flooding
- theft or attempted theft
- malicious damage or vandalism
- freezing or bursting of any part of the plumbing system
- falling trees, lamp posts, aerials or satellite dishes
impact by vehicles or aircraft
You can extend a buildings insurance policy to include accidental damage to the inside of your home. This costs extra but is well worth having, as most smaller claims tend to be accidents. (Putting foot through loft floor). However, anything that is not clearly listed in the policy is not usually covered. The value of items that need to be declared varies from £500 – £4,000 depending on the insurer.
A buildings insurance policy will usually cover the cost of alternative accommodation up to a certain limit, if you have to leave your home while repairs are carried out.
If you own the property, you can also be insured against legal responsibility if someone dies or is injured when they visit your property. You can also get cover for damage to someone else’s goods or property when they visit you. Again, you need to check. If in doubt give us a ring or email.
Personal Possession cover is often overlooked or misunderstood. This is property that you may take out of the home. Jewellery, spectacles, digital cameras, money, rings, watches etc. Unless you have this they will not be covered outside of your home.
Who should have buildings insurance
If you are an owner-occupier with a mortgage, it will be a condition of the mortgage that your home is insured. Your mortgage lender will make sure that the amount of cover is sufficient to meet the outstanding amount of your mortgage. However, you should make sure that this is enough to cover the full rebuilding costs of your home.
Some lenders insist that you use their buildings insurance, if you are looking for a mortgage, take this into account. The extra you will probably have to pay may make a low interest rate not so competitive. Your mortgage lender will usually accept your choice of insurer, as long as the policy provides adequate cover. They may make a small charge for this. Your mortgage lender does have the right to turn your choice of insurer down, but they cannot insist that you take out their own insurance policy unless you have agreed to a special mortgage package which includes insurance. (Check the small print or ask your broker if you are using one)
If you buy or sell a house, responsibility for the buildings insurance passes to the new owner when the contracts are exchanged. It is therefore very important that, if you are buying a house, you insure the property from the day the contracts are exchanged. This is because if the house is damaged or destroyed, you will be expected to cover the loss. If you are selling your house, you have a legal responsibility to look after the property until the sale is completed, and you should therefore keep on your buildings insurance until then.
If your mortgage lender repossesses your home, you are still responsible for the insurance until it is sold. Your insurance policy may no longer cover you if you are not living in the property. You should explain the circumstances to your insurer so that they can change the terms of your policy. They may want assurances that someone, for example a neighbour, is watching over the property while it is empty. This also applies if you spend more than a month at a time abroad, say in a holiday home.
If you are freeholder without a mortgage, you do not have to take out buildings insurance, but it is advisable to do. None of us expect a disaster to happen to us.
If you are an owner-occupier who is a leaseholder, you may have a condition in your lease which says that you have to take out buildings insurance with a specified insurer. This may be the case even if you don’t have a mortgage. However, in England, you may be able to take out buildings insurance with an insurer of your choice, as long as certain conditions are met. Alternatively, the freeholder of your building may take out the insurance and charge you for the premium. Usually the Freeholder will take out a block insurance for the building and charge you a percentage. Don’t forget, this is for the building, it is advisable to take out insurance for your contents.
If you are a tenant, your landlord usually has responsibility for the buildings insurance. Check that your landlord has taken out buildings insurance. You may also have some responsibility for certain loss or damage to fixtures and fittings. Check your tenancy agreement for this. Your household contents insurance may cover some of these losses.
Choosing buildings insurance
The price of an insurance policy is called a ‘premium’. Before you take out your buildings insurance policy, ask for quotes from several insurers to help you to get the best deal for your circumstances. You will need to compare:
- what each policy covers, and any exclusions (risks which are specifically excluded, for example, damage caused by frost or sonic booms)
- the amount of any excess. This is the first amount of any claim, for example the first £100, that you will have to pay yourself. Some policies allow you to pay a higher excess in return for a cheaper premium
- any discounts offered
- the no claims bonus which increases for every year that no claims are made on your policy, up to a maximum amount. Most insurers will let you transfer the discount, if you want to change your insurer. You will also need to compare the amount by which your no claims bonus would be reduced if you made a claim.
- Some policies have monthly payments as standard, others are yearly and charge you extra for paying monthly.
You can source from many insurers from this site, if you still aren’t sure, contact us. We also can get very competitive deals that are not available anywhere on line. It’s worth that call.
Things to remember
- when you buy insurance, you must give your insurer, or the person who sells you the insurance, as much information as you possibly can about anything which might affect their decision to insure you and how much to charge.
- it is your responsibility to inform your insurer of any change in your circumstances, for example, if you carry out any home improvements to your property. You should do this as soon as possible, and not wait until it is time to renew your insurance policy.
Making a claim
If you want to make a claim on your buildings insurance:
check that your policy is still current, and that you are covered for the situation.
minimize any further loss or damage by, for example, making temporary repairs to a broken window.
- if a crime has been committed or you have lost property, report this to the police .
Keep a note of the crime reference number you are given, so that you can pass it on to your insurer, if requested.
contact your insurer as soon as possible and request a claim form.
complete the claim form carefully and keep a copy.
if your claim is substantial, you may want to employ loss assessors to help you with your claim. Make sure that they are members of the Institute of Public Loss Assessors. Contact them on: 01494 782342.
Get details of all fees and services offered, in writing, before any work is carried out.
do not arrange for permanent repairs to be done without your insurer’s permission. Your insurer may ask a claims inspector or loss adjuster to visit you, to investigate the circumstances of your claim.
if your claim is accepted, your insurer will either arrange for a company to do the repairs, or ask you to get estimates for their approval before going ahead with any work.
When you may not be covered by your buildings insurance
- For normal wear and tear.
- If you do not keep to the conditions of your policy. The most common conditions of a buildings insurance policy are: that you must take all reasonable steps to prevent loss, damage or injury; you must keep your home in good condition and properly locked up when you are not there; and you must tell your insurers if you are going to be away for more than 30 days.
- for any exclusions in your policy. These may include damage caused by sonic booms, nuclear explosions, frost, or war, and contamination by radioactivity.
- if your property is at risk of regular flooding, or if it is at greater risk of subsidence. If you are in this situation, you may find that your insurers will only insure you if you agree to pay a bigger premium and to have a higher excess on your policy than normal
- if you were under insured. This means that your home was not insured for its full value. However, your insurer may still agree to pay a proportion of your claim. Many people are unaware that if say you should be insured for £100,000 and you are only insured for £80,000, if you make a claim for £1,000 they may only pay out £800.
- Damage by wet or dry rot
- Damage by insects, vermin, birds or pets (contents)
Or if you don’t know your rebuild value then you can get a quote here.
Click here for Household Insurance (notional value)