Home Insurance - Abi

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HOMEINSURANCE –WHAT YOU NEEDTO KNOWabi.org.uk@BritishInsurers@BritishInsurers1

Every day, home insurers pay out over 8 million tocustomers. Unwelcome events, such as flooding or fire,highlight how essential having insurance is to surviveunexpected financial setbacks that could take you years torecover from.Yet home insurance is often misunderstood - ABI research showsthat one in five home insurance claims are unsuccessful, mostlybecause people are not fully aware of what they are coveredfor. Most problems could be avoided by better understandingof what is and what is not covered. Here are the key things youneed to know to ensure that you buy the best policy for you andget the most from your home insurance.Following this advice will help ensure that any claim you mayneed to make will be paid.@BritishInsurers3

Know your cover –read your policyIt may not be the most gripping reading, butit really pays to read your policy so that youunderstand what you are covered for, what isexcluded and what your rights and responsibilitiesare. It is much better to check anything you areunsure of or do not understand at the outset,rather than risk problems if you need to claim.When considering the right policy for your needs,you can check most insurers’ policies - including asummary of the main cover - online, before you buy.4abi.org.uk

What you arecovered againstHome insurance is split between buildingsand contents insurance.What you are covered for and the limits ofcover will be set out in your policy document.Typically, buildings and contents insurance willcover you against damage or loss caused by:fire, explosion, lightning, earthquake, storm,flood, subsidence, heave or landslip, theft orattempted theft, malicious damage, falling treesor branches, falling TV or satellite devices, riotand impact by aircraft, vehicle or animal.Buildings and contents policies also usuallycover some of your personal legal liabilities for example if a visitor injures themselves andyou are found to be legally liable for their injury.Your contents policy may also provide personalliability cover for you and members of yourhousehold when away from the home.BUILDINGS INSURANCECONTENTS INSURANCEBuildings insurance covers the structure ofyour home such as walls, wallpaper, ceilingsand permanent fixtures and fittings like baths,toilets, and fitted kitchens. Your insurance willusually cover you for the cost of any emergencytemporary alternative accommodation, shouldyour home be uninhabitable while it is beingrepaired, such as after a flood.Contents insurance will cover your possessions– typically everything that you would take withyou when you move. This will include furniture,electrical equipment and your personalpossessions, such as jewellery and othervaluables. There will usually be a limit on certainitems above a particular value, so check. If anyitems are above that value, you may need to payan extra premium to cover them.Policies may cover garages, greenhouses andgarden sheds, although they can vary so checkthat the policy meets your needs.@BritishInsurersYour policy may cover items away from thehome as standard or as an add-on. You can buybuildings and contents insurance separately oras a combined policy.5

Additional cover thatis availableHome insurance covers a wide range of risksas standard. For an extra premium you may beable extend your policy to provide wider cover,such as below. Some policies may include theseas standard, so always check your policy so youunderstand what you are insured for.ACCIDENTAL DAMAGE TOYOUR STRUCTURE ANDCONTENTSLEGAL EXPENSES COVERFor example, putting your foot through theceiling, spillages around the home, and damageto items while away from the home.This usually gives you access to legaladvice, and cover the legal costs of claimingcompensation following an accident that wasnot your fault, as well as the cost of taking ordefending other specified legal action, such asemployment or neighbour disputes.COVER AWAY FROM YOURHOMEHOME EMERGENCYASSISTANCESometimes known as ‘all-risks’, you can coverloss of or damage to your possessions whileaway from your home, up to a set limit . You mayneed to list separately specified items such asjewellery, laptop computers and bikes that maybe more likely to be damaged or stolen.This covers the cost of calling a tradesmanout to deal with an emergency, such as beinglocked out of your home or a broken boiler.It will cover the repairs and labour, and mayinclude overnight accommodation if you cannotstay in your home as a result.6abi.org.uk

HOMEINSURANCEIS NOT AMAINTENANCECONTRACTYour home insurancewill not cover the routinecosts of maintaining yourproperty, or the costs ofany damage caused bylack of maintenance. So,for example, if you knowyou have some loose rooftiles or damaged gutteringget them repaired.KNOW YOUR EXCESSThe excess is the first part of every claim that you mustpay yourself, before your insurer steps in. Differentsections of your policy may well have different excesslevels. For example, the theft excess may be 100, with atypical subsidence excess of 1,000.Some insurers may reduce your premium if you accepta voluntary or higher excess; it is important to considerwhether this will be beneficial to you if you need to claim.MAKE SURE YOUR SUM INSURED IS RIGHTIt is important that you get your buildingsand contents sum insured right, as this isthe maximum your insurer will pay out if youclaim. Your buildings should be insured fortheir re-building cost (not what you paid forthe property or the current market value). Yourcontents should be insured for the cost ofreplacing them as new, not their current value.some policies may have a maximum specifiedrebuilding cost limit, such as up to 1 million.Your insurer or an insurance brokershould be able to help. The Building CostsInformation Service1 can help you calculateyour buildings sum insured. If however yourhome is not standard construction, such asa thatched property, or is listed, then youmay need to ask a surveyor to work outthe rebuilding cost. The Royal Institute ofChartered Surveyors2 can help you find asuitable surveyor to assess your property.It is important to re-evaluate your contentssum insured on a regular basis, particularlyafter purchasing expensive items, orfollowing a birthday or Christmas. Oftencontents policies will have a limit. You shouldcheck that this should be sufficient to coverthe value of all of your .rics.org/uk/@BritishInsurers7

YOURVALUABLES ANDHIGHER-VALUEITEMSAn overall limit will usuallyapply for valuables suchas jewellery, works ofart and sometimes hightheft risk goods such aselectronic equipment.There will also usually bea single item limit, such as 1,500 for example. Youshould tell your insurer ifone of your valuables isworth more than theselimits as you may still beable to cover them bypaying an extra premium.IF YOUR HOME IS AT FLOOD RISKFlood Re is a scheme, developed by the insuranceindustry, that helps people living in flood risk areasget affordable flood insurance. Launched in April2016, it is not a home insurer itself, but works behindthe scenes with insurance companies, helpinginsurers to offer more affordable flood insurance tothose homeowners at higher flood risk. It means thatpeople can shop around more easily to find moreaffordable flood premiums and excesses.If you think you are at greater risk of flooding, talk toyour insurer to see if Flood Re could help you.8abi.org.uk

COVER FOR FLATS AND MAISONETTESIt is usually best to insure your flat or maisonette togetherwith other owners in your block under a single buildingspolicy. If you rent, then your buildings insurance should becovered by your landlord. If you are a leaseholder of a flat,then it is likely that the freeholder will be responsible forpurchasing buildings insurance for the block. Often if thereis a managing agent looking after the block they will arrangethe buildings insurance and each flat will contribute to itspart of the service charge.Individual leaseholders or tenants are however responsiblefor taking out their own contents insurance.PEER TO PEERIf you are thinking of using peer topeer arrangements, such as Airbnbor similar, you should talk to yourinsurer first. In general home insurancepolicies will provide cover for this in asimilar way to guests or lodgers, buta conversation with your insurer willhelp you understand about any specificconditions or changes to what iscovered, for example theft or maliciousdamage may be excluded.RUNNING A BUSINESSFROM HOMEIf you run a business from home, eitherfull or part-time, you should tell yourhome insurer, especially if you havebusiness equipment that needs to becovered or business visitors that cometo the property. Depending on youractivity, your insurer may automaticallyextend your cover to include yourbusiness activity, or you may need totake out separate business cover.@BritishInsurers9

What is usually excludedHome insurance covers awide range of risks. But itdoes not cover everything.It is important to read yourpolicy so that you know whatis not covered.While general exclusions may vary betweenpolicies, you will not usually be coveredagainst: general wear and tear, such as a worn outcarpet damage caused due to lack of maintenance mechanical or electrical breakdown, such asa fridge breaking down due to it coming to theend of its useful life restricted cover when your home is empty fora long period (specified in the policy) or is letto tenants any amount over the limits specified in thepolicy10abi.org.uk

How the price of yourhome insurance iscalculatedInsurers will take accountof a wide range of factors indetermining the cost of yourhome insurance. These willinclude: The rebuilding cost. This takes into accountthe size of your home, if it is terraced, semidetached or detached and its method ofconstruction.Some insurers may not require you tospecify the sum insured, as they may provideautomatic cover up to a set limit of say 500,000. However, you are still responsiblefor ensuring that the sum insured is correct,so if you think you need it above any setlimits then discuss this with the insurer or aninsurance broker.The price you pay for contentsinsurance will reflect: The value of your contents, taking intoaccount higher risk items such as jewellery. Where you live, as some areas will havehigher crime rates or be more prone toflooding for example. Your previous claims history. Security measures. Some insurers mayhave minimum security requirements, oroffer premium discounts for certain securitymeasures. The insurer will need to assess the likelihoodof a claim. For example, if your home is atincreased risk, is in an area with a highercrime rate or is susceptible to subsidence. Your insurer will also take account anyprevious claims, although this does notautomatically mean you will pay more for yourcover.@BritishInsurers11

THE IMPACT OF MAKING ACLAIM ON THE FUTURE COSTOF YOUR COVERWhile an insurer will take into account yourprevious claims, this does not always mean thatyour premium will increase. Insurers will considernot only your claims record but also other factors,such as whether there has been any change inyour risk (for example if you have extended yourhome). And remember that it is a very competitivemarket, so you can shop around to get the rightpolicy for your needs at the best price.12abi.org.uk

How your claimwill be paidIf your home is damaged and needs repair, your buildinginsurer will arrange the repairs and settle the claim direct withthe repairer. If your home is uninhabitable during repairs (suchas drying out after a flood) your insurer will arrange for, andpay the cost of, any emergency temporary accommodation foryou and your family.Insurers often have a panel of tradespeople that they use –this saves you the time and trouble of finding someone andgetting alternative quotes for repair. However, if you have apreferred repairer, such as local builder who you trust, discussthis with your insurer. Your insurer should, in most cases,agree to the work being done by your preferred tradesperson.However, make sure that any costs are agreed beforehandwith your insurer.For damage to your contents, your insurer will either pay thefull cost (less any excess) of replacement, or pay for repairwhere this is possible. In some cases they may ask you to goto a specified supplier to select a replacement item.@BritishInsurers13

Hassle- free claimingYour insurer wants to pay your claim. Theyknow that a claim can result from an upsettingand stressful event, such as a flood or burglary,so they will do all they can to deal with yourclaim as quickly and as efficiently as possible.You can help by: Knowing claims contact details, including 24 hour emergency helplinephone numbers. Notifying your insurer as soon as possible after any loss which you wantto claim for Giving your insurer as much information as possible about the loss. Forexample, supplying photos of any damage, receipts and valuations anda police report reference number for any burglary claim. There may besome items, such as those damaged by flood or fire that may need to bethrown away before any inspection by your insurer or the loss adjusterappointed by the insurer to deal with your claim. Before you dispose ofthem, speak to your insurer, take photos, record any serial numbers andif possible keep any samples, such as a piece of any carpet.14abi.org.uk

May 2016For more informationAssociation of British InsurersOne America Square17 CrosswallLondon EC3N 2LB020 7600 333316abi.org.uk@BritishInsurersabi.org.uk

Home insurance is split between buildings and contents insurance. BUILDINGS INSURANCE Buildings insurance covers the structure of your home such as walls, wallpaper, ceilings and permanent fixtures and fittings like baths, toilets, and fitted kitchens. Your insurance will usually cover you for the cost of any emergency

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