Home insurance is essential to protect your home, and the things that it contains. Most claims are dealt with swiftly and efficiently, but a small proportion run into problems when homeowners have done something that stops an insurer paying out.
We look at how not to invalidate your home insurance.
Accidents will happen
Accidental damage covers most minor disasters, from children running amok to a car lodged in your front room. Most breakages, leaks or spillages will be dealt with routinely – unless they are your fault and preventable. This can include dodgy DIY. Many insurers may refuse to cover you if you drill through a water pipe or a cable. Calling in a professional could end up saving you money. They should be covered by insurance of their own, but let your insurer know if you’re having major building work.
Not so accidental damage is also unlikely to be covered. Although most policies cover malicious damage from third parties, most won’t cover deliberate damage caused by you or a family member insured under the policy.
So if you lose your temper and throw the TV through the window, your insurance provider will probably not pay up. The same applies to friends and family, so you need to keep domestic disputes as civil as possible.
The perils of subletting
Having tenants or a lodger could invalidate a claim. They are unlikely to take the same care of your property as you would yourself, so the insurer will see people living in your home who are not part of your family as a higher risk.
The solution is to tell your insurer, and to rearrange your cover. You will pay a little more in your premium, but you will be able to make a valid claim if the time comes.
Protect your security
Security is your responsibility. If you have a home alarm and locks that offer extra security, you should declare them to your insurer. It should reduce the price of your policy. But remember that if you don’t use them, it could be seen as contributory negligence, and your insurance could be invalid. Many insurers insist that if you have an alarm you must activate it when you go out of the house or at night.
Leaving a window open or unlocked is easily done, but if a burglar gains unforced access through it, anything stolen might not be replaced. Keep keys safe and sound, somewhere not visible through windows.
You should have a fire alarm. Check it on a regular basis.
Secure your exterior too
Most insurers cover things in the garden. However, the same principles apply. Secure any valuables like lawnmowers, shears or a barbeque in a locked shed. Any unsecured items, like ladders that are used to break into your home may invalidate your insurance, so keep all tools under lock and key.
Most home insurance policies stipulate that you can’t be away from your property for longer than a set amount of time. This is often 30 days, so most holidays should not be a problem, but if you’re away on business, or going travelling for a few months you might need unoccupied home insurance.
Minding your own business
Running a business from home can save on overheads. However, clients coming and going, and stock stored on the premises means an increased risk of theft.
You will probably need business insurance, so you may be able to arrange all the necessary cover for your home at the same time.
If you have questions about your insurance needs call Continuum. We will be happy to provide answers.
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