Home insurance comes in two basic forms, buildings and contents. In principle it sounds simple and in practice it isn’t particularly complicated, but there are seven key points you need to take into consideration when buying it.
- Your policy needs to be up to date to be useful
It’s easy to lose track of what you actually have in your house because you’re so busy with life in general, but look on insurance purchase/renewal time as an opportunity to take stock of your possessions and make sure that they are all covered in one way or another. This could also be a good opportunity to make sure that you have clear details of any important items in your home so that in the event of a burglary you can provide both police and your insurer with clear and accurate details of them.
- You need to be clear on your insurer’s definition of valuables
If your home contents insurance policy has references to “valuables” then there should also be a definition of what your particular insurer considers valuables to be and you should familiarize yourself with it so you are sure you know where you stand.
- Make sure you are clear on policy exclusions/limitations
Insurance fraud is a reality and insurers are well aware of this. This does not mean that they will not pay out on legitimate claims, however it does mean that they may write policies in such a way that there are exclusions on the cover they provide, that their liability is limited in certain areas and/or that cover is only applicable when you have declared yourself as having certain items.
- Check if your policy extends to your garden
Garden outbuildings such as garages and sheds do not necessarily have the same degree of security as a family home and as such they can be relatively easy targets for thieves, a fact of which insurance companies are well aware. Your home insurance policy may not extend to your garden at all and if it does its cover may be limited. This may not bother you if your garden is essentially a patch of lawn but if it’s your pride and joy, then you may want to take out specific garden insurance.
- Check if the policy comes with accidental damage automatically included.
You might think that any home contents insurance policy should automatically cover you for accidental damage, but again, your insurer may disagree. If your home insurer offers accidental damage cover as an additional extra, then do your sums before paying up. Essentially have a think about the items in your home which are most at risk and then decide whether they need to be insured at all or whether you could just replace them in the event of damage. If you do decide they need to be insured then have a look at insurance policies for the items in question and see if they offer better value than your main insurer’s offering.
- Check your insurer’s policy on flood damage
This is obviously most important to those who live in flood-prone areas, but even if your local area has never flooded before (or not for years), it’s still useful to know as, in principle, floods can happen anywhere, particularly if the UK is deluged with storms and snow.
- Make sure you haven’t over-insured
Over-insurance won’t bring you any extra benefit in the event of a claim, but it will usually cost you extra in terms of premiums. Given that money not spent buys are much as money earned, it makes sense to ensure that your insurance cover is adequate but not excessive.
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