Before embarking on any kind of home improvement or building works, the most sensible first step many people fail to take is to review your insurance policies. Both Buildings Insurance and Home Contents can be affected.
Mundane and boring I know, you just want a beautiful new house, but you would be surprised how many people can get themselves into trouble by jumping straight into a project like this without getting some simple free advice that could save them thousands.
You may well be one of the majority of people who didn’t realise:
- Any changes to the existing building can breach your existing insurance contract making it null and void.
- If you are found to have been in breach of contract, on any insurance policy, you may find it difficult and more expensive to get insurance in the future
- Major building works that involve external walls and roofing could create a security risk that affects your home contents cover as well as buildings insurance
There are many more considerations like this that a reputable and professional insurance broker can identify in relation to your project, making you aware of the risks and advising on the best way to arrange additional cover and/or amend your existing policies, meaning you can sleep at night while the building work is carried out.
While it’s tempting to cut corners and rely on internet comparison sites to find you the best deal, without the trained eye of a broker to check through the detail a huge number of people find themselves under-insured or with the wrong policy for their needs.
(Find new stats around growth in home improvements, building work issues and or use of brokers)
After the initial impact of the 2008 Credit Crunch, where many householders adopted the mantra “improve don’t move” there was a sharp rise in extension building. But as the crisis turned into a recession, building work tailed off considerably for several years. Since 2013 home improvements have once again been on the rise, with this trend expected to continue (marketresearch.com)
It is a concern then that, with so many people taking on building projects, so few are approaching insurance brokers for the free advice and peace of mind on offer. As of 2012 an estimated 37% of consumers sourced insurance products through an independent intermediary while 32% went direct online or over the phone and the remainder relied on retailers and other agencies such as banks to provide a solution. (abi.org)
Let’s paint a picture:
Your child has a band and they are very talented. You have space enough to the side of the house to build an extension, so you create a music studio for them practice and record their songs. During the work the property will be less secure as the usually secure garage and gateway will be removed for a time, this could have a massive impact in terms of insurance. Also, once the work is finished, the music studio equipment and instruments belonging to your child and their friends will include several high value items that may not be covered by your insurance or theirs. A potential minefield of risk, but a simple conversation with your insurance broker will make sure every issue is considered and policies reviewed. Whether you need to declare specific high value items or talk to the parents of other band members about amending their policies to include “off-site” cover, you will always receive the right advice to make the right decision.
Carrying out any sort of home improvements can create a range of risks and lead to different types of damage to home and property. Anything from dropping a light bulb to damaging expensive electricals like a television, not to mention unreplaceable items like wedding photographs. Having the right policy in place before you start reduces the risk massively, its all about communication. Speak to a broker and let them take the strain. They can take time to go through your existing policy in detail, check on specifics such as whether items will be replaced ‘new for old’, advise you on the best course of action and even liaise with your existing provider to make sure they have all the information they need.
There is also then the question of your contractor’s insurance. There will be some things that you can’t insure against but they can, it is always worth asking them the question and if you are unsure ask to see their insurance details and get your broker to take a look to help reassure you that everything is in order.
If you’re still not sure about how to prepare for a building project, just call us to talk it through and we can take care of it for you, otherwise here’s our basic checklist…
- Inform your insurer – Let your insurer know what work is going to take place in good time before starting. They may need time to send someone around to assess what cover levels are needed during the build
- Be totally honest – Be clear with your insurer so that you get the right cover. Ask them to explain what changes you need to make and possibly get it in writing if they say you don’t
- Claims failure – You won’t be able to claim for any damage and loss that occurs during the building process if you fail to notify them that the work is taking place
- New levels of cover – The work, once complete, may mean that your existing cover levels need increasing, as your house will be a different size, shape or layout
- Accidental damage – If it’s not already included as part of your policy, consider paying a little extra for the duration of the build to cover you during the period where the risk of accidents occurring obviously increases dramatically.
- Moving out during the build – If you vacate the property for more than the acceptable length of time as stipulated in your home cover, you could invalidate the policy.
- Consider adding legal cover – This would ensure that if you get into dispute over bad workmanship or contractual agreements, you can get financial assistance with the legal advice you need
If you are planning an extension or considering taking on home improvements, feel free to contact Andrew and the team at Regency Insurance. Our commitment is to providing comprehensive advice that gets you the best cover for less.