Common errors made when taking out Buildings Insurance

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With winter rapidly approaching, and heavy rain and winds already beginning to hit, now is the time to consider whether your buildings insurance is up to date and provides you with the cover you need.iStock_000001671239XSmall

Whether you’re taking out a policy for the first time, or renewing your cover, you should check annually that the information you’ve providing your insurer with is correct and up-to-date.

There are a good number of reasons why your current policy might be out of date or invalid if you haven’t recently re-assessed your cover needs; you may have moved home recently, have had extensive building work carried out, spend considerable lengths of time abroad or have seen an increase in flooding in your area (even if your own home hasn’t been flooded).

Here are a number of common errors people make when applying for new cover or at renewal time:

Estimating the re-build value of your property

The first thing to remember is that the re-build value of your home is not the same as how much you could get for it if you sold up. It’s the cost associated with re-building the whole structure from scratch if it were totally destroyed.

You should also remember it covers external structures such as garages, greenhouses, summer houses, garden studios and walls, and not just the main part of the property, when making your estimate.

And if you’ve moved to a new property, it’s also easy to forget you could need to change the sum insured. You might have bought a larger property, for example, or a similar one but in a more desirable area, or one with more outside space and buildings.

Whenever you move, discuss it with your insurer and decide if you need to change the terms of your buildings cover.

Flood plains

Around 5 million people in the UK live in areas at risk of flooding, but many don’t know it.

If you’ve checked the ‘No’ box on your application in answer to the question ‘Do you live in an area at risk of flooding?’ when in fact you do, you might invalidate a future claim.

The increase in the amount of flooding seen in the UK means some areas previously considered safe have been re-assessed and are now listed as ‘at risk’. Even if your home hasn’t been flooded, but others in your area have, this could affect your insurance.

Your local council website should have detailed plans which allow you to see if your home is in such an area. Or you can check on the Environment Agency’s website http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk

Additional building work

If you have added a loft room, rear extension, side-return extension or had any other building work carried out that may add value to your home, you will probably have increased the re-build costs and need to change the sum insured.

In any case, you still need to inform your insurer as not doing so is another way you could invalidate any future claim. Imagine if you build a large garage but don’t tell your insurer, and some sort of structural damage occurs to it, it’s doubtful you could then make a claim for the damage.

Moved home

Some people move home and simply change their address on their cover. This isn’t enough.

You should carry out a proper assessment of the new property (in the same way as when you first took out insurance on your old home) and decide whether the terms of your cover need updating.

Do you now live on a flood plain? Would the new property cost more to re-build? Do you now own outbuildings when you didn’t previously? Is it a listed building?

You need to do your homework and re-assess your policy to ensure it’s fully up to date and covers your needs.

Building and material costs

Many people who live in the same home for years fail to take into account that the cost of repairing or re-building their home will have changed considerably from when they first took out their cover.

The cost of basic materials and builder’s fees generally increase year on year, but many homeowners don’t increase the sum insured and as a result are actually under-insured.

Policy Expert

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, so we have a team of experts with a real passion for making sure people get the cover that’s right for them. We’re driven by a desire to help you find not only the best value insurance, but the right insurance for your individual needs. For more information speak to one of our experts on 0203 014 9300 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.