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GOOD TO KNOW

Escape of water claims

Escape of water is the most common reason why insurance claims are paid. The sooner the problem is found the better.

  • Check radiator valves regularly for leaks.
  • Check insulation and lagging on your water pipes and tanks including those outside or in your loft.
  • Check where your water stop tap is so you can switch the water off in an emergency.
  • Keep your central heating on low if you go on holiday during the winter months (generally this would mean October – February).
  • You can also keep your loft hatch open so warm air can get to your pipes.
  • If you do want to leave your heating off, you should drain your central heating system and switch off the water supply at the mains.
  • Check the fitting and working order of your washing appliances.
  • Check your overflows on toilets, water tanks and central heating header tanks regularly.

Home Insurance Terminology

Here are some useful things to know:

Buildings Insurance

This relates to the structure of the house plus permanent fixtures and fittings that are part of the house such as kitchen units, toilets, sinks etc. Imagine taking the roof off the house and tipping upside down – whatever doesn’t fall out is generally considered “Buildings”.

Contents Insurance

This relates to the possessions that are easily moved and transported if you move house. Imagine taking the roof off the house and tipping upside down – whatever does fall out is generally considered “Contents”.

As well as the two main types of insurance explained above, here are a few other things you should consider.

Rebuild figure

Some insurers will cover your property up to a specified amount, others will ask for the rebuild value of your property. The rebuild cost is the amount it would cost to completely rebuild your home if it was destroyed beyond compare including the price of labour, cost of materials and removal of any existing materials. NB: The rebuild cost can be very different to the cost it would be to buy your home i.e. the market value.

Accidental Damage

Does your policy cover accidental damage? This means things like spilling paint on the carpet or nail through a water pipe. Most insurers will charge extra for accidental damage cover, so you must opt for it specifically when you take out your policy.

Locks & Burglar Alarms

Your insurer will also want to know information about external locking doors and windows. NB: If you forget to set the alarm or lock the door and you are burgled, this may affect your claim. Did you know that most burglaries take place between 10AM and 3PM, not at night!

High Value Items 

Most insurers will cover you for valuable items in the home but you may be asked to specify any expensive items, which usually means items worth over £1000. NB: Don’t forget to add items if you buy any new things that fall into this category.

Home Business

If you use your home as a business address you will need to declare that with your insurers as some may decline cover based on what your business is and if you have any visiting clients.

Listed Buildings

If you live in a listed building you will need to declare this when you take out your policy. This is mainly because the rebuild cost can be tricky to calculate - specialist craftsmen and materials may be required to restore the building to its original state.

Contents Outside of the Home (also known as Personal Possessions cover)

If you have any items you usually wear or take out of the home (watch, rings, glasses etc), you will need to request this cover. Similar to Valuables cover, if you have any items worth over £1000, you would need to specify these.

Excess

This is the fixed amount you have to pay if you make a claim. Your insurer will deduct this from any pay out they make. You can choose to increase the excess when you set up your policy and this should help to decrease the cost.

Holidays and travel

If you’re lucky enough to be going on a longer holiday than the norm, you need to check the unoccupancy period on your policy. If your property is left unoccupied for a significant stretch of time - usually 30 days or more – some insurers will not cover past this extended period. NB: Don’t advertise on social media that you are on holiday and your house will be empty!

DIY

Professional tradesmen will have their own insurance, but if you’re intent on ‘doing it yourself’ it’s worth checking your policy first. Accidental damage cover should offer you piece of mind for minor mishaps, but if you’re undertaking some major renovations, extending up or out, you need to check any cover restrictions on your policy.

Exclusions

Your insurance policy will always have a list of excluded items, so make sure you read your documents to ensure you’re covered. General wear and tear to your possessions won’t be covered, which may seem pretty obvious, but there may also be less obvious exclusions such as cyber-attacks or lost data.

Always read and familiarise yourself with your own insurance documentation. If you’re in any doubt call your insurance company to check the details of your policy.

Fire claims

A fire in your home can be terrifying for all of the family. Whilst these are not a common incident, it is worth stacking the odds in your favour.  

  • Sweep chimneys of open fires once a year to stop soot building up that may cause fire or brickwork damage.
  • Agree a fire escape plan with your family making sure you all know how to get out of the property.
  • Make sure you all know where the door and window keys are kept at night
  • Check electrical sockets are not overloaded and switched off at night and unplug all your appliances if you go on holiday.
  • Don’t leave burning candles unattended or in the reach of children, put them in secure holders on a surface that cannot burn and away from anything that could catch fire.

Flood claims

Flooding is unfortunately becoming more and more common news and the effects can be devastating.

If you think your property may be prone to flooding or extreme weather conditions:

  • Be aware of flood warnings in your area via news and internet reports.
  • If you can, roll up carpets and take them upstairs.
  • If you are able, move as many items as you can upstairs, such as furniture, family heirlooms and important documents.
  • Move your car to higher ground.
  • Lift curtains and secure them over the rails to keep them away from the floor.
  • If you are able, block the doors with sandbags.
  • Turn off water, electricity and gas at the mains.
  • Keep a stock of filled sandbags handy to help seal your doors – your local council may provide these.
  • Keep all valuables and copies of important documents (for example, your insurance policies and bank details) locked safely away, preferably in a waterproof / fireproof container kept on an upper floor.

Storm damage claims

  • Check your roof for missing or loose tiles and repair any damage to prevent leaks.
  • Check and clear your gutters regularly and repair any damage so water does not leak into your home.
  • Get your roof inspected every few years and keep proof that this has been done.

Subsidence Claims

  • Be aware of any new cracks in your walls or any cracks that are getting bigger, this may be down to ground movement.
  • Check your existing trees and shrubs and think carefully about where you plant any new trees or shrubs so the roots don t damage your home.

Security advice

  • Consider higher level security locks on your external doors and the doors are in good condition and have toughened glass.
  • Lock your windows and doors when you leave your home.
  • When you go on holiday, ask someone to keep an eye on your home and pick up your mail.
  • You can mark valuable items with your postcode and house number using special security markers.
  • Consider having a burglar alarm installed.
  • Check your sheds / outbuildings are locked.
  • If you have ladders, keep them in a locked outbuilding or locked to a permanent structure away from the home.

General advice

  • Check for patches of damp, mildew or mould, this may lead to gradual leaks that could damage your home.
  • Look at having a gas safety check once a year on the boiler, radiators and gas appliances in your property.
  • Check your loft regularly for squirrel and wasp nests. If you find any, have them removed.
  • Keep receipts of goods where possible.
  • If you do not have receipts, proof of ownership is important – take digital pictures of items of value in your home and outbuildings. Include pictures of you wearing personal possession items; watches, rings, bracelets etc.
  • Back up your computer to avoid the loss of any sentimental material, such as family photos.

Other considerations

Create a home emergency kit that you keep to hand:

  • Portable mobile phone chargers
  • Money
  • A torch
  • Bottled water and canned food
  • Blankets and waterproof clothing
  • A list of local emergency numbers
  • Your insurance details.
  • A first aid kit

FREQUENTLY ASKED
 QUESTIONS

What is home insurance and what does it cover?

There are three main types of home insurance:
Buildings insurance, contents insurance, and combined buildings and contents insurance.

Buildings insurance
Covers the structure of your home (your walls, windows and roof as well as permanent fixtures and fittings, such as baths, toilets and fitted kitchens).

Contents insurance
Covers the possessions in your home (you can also select for your personal possessions outside of the home).

Combined buildings and contents
As suggested, covers both on a combined policy.

If you need buildings and contents cover, it is recommended that you do this as a combined policy rather than separate buildings and contents cover. This is because you may have instances where you need to claim on both sections of cover and it will be easier if this is with one insurer.

As well as covering you for theft, home insurance also protects you against damage caused by a number of unforeseen events including flooding, fire and explosions.

What is accidental damage cover?

Most home insurance policies should offer a limited level of accidental damage cover but more comprehensive cover for accidental damage is usually an option as an extra cost.

The limited accidental damage may cover you for damage to sanitary items such as cracked sinks, baths etc. More comprehensive cover for cover against spilt paint, DIY mishaps etc can be selected but this may increase your premiums by around £100 per annum depending on your policy and the value of your items.

What is personal possessions cover?

For an additional premium, you can use your contents cover to include the personal possessions that you normally wear or take with you outside of the home. This could include items such as jewellery items, handbags, mobile phones or gadgets such as laptops or tablets (some policies may also offer specific cover for mobile phones or gadget).

What happens if I leave my home unoccupied?

Leaving your home empty is likely to make it more of a risk whether that is to theft or damage so insurers generally restrict cover in these circumstances. Most insurers will cover your home on the condition that it will not be left unattended for more than 30 – 60 consecutive days to allow for holidays so if it is likely your home will be left unoccupied for longer than this, you should let your insurer know.

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What other exclusions should I look out for?

All insurers will offer exclusions on policies, some more than others depending on the risk so you should check your policy schedule and policy document carefully. Some examples where exclusions may apply are below:

High-value items and personal possessions

There is usually a limit on the amount of cover for general high-value items within the home, such as jewellery or computer equipment and also the maximum amount payable for a single item.  

Running your business from home

Some insurance policies won't cover any liability arising from you running a business from your home. Check the policy details to make sure you have the cover you need.

Renting or subletting your home

Your home insurance policy is probably not suitable if you are now renting or subletting your property. A specialist Landlord policy will probably need to be put in place. This offers different cover options and levels so it is important to get this right.

Pairs and sets

Some insurers will cover pairs and sets, others will only cover the cost of replacing the damaged parts. Check your policy booklet to find out what your policy covers.

What is an excess?

The policy excess is the amount you have to pay towards any claim you make on your home insurance policy.

Most home insurers have two types of excess. A compulsory excess, which the insurer sets and can't be modified, and a voluntary excess, which you can set yourself.

The excesses can vary from each insurer and this is usually taken from the claim amount. For example, if you have a claim worth £2500, and you have a £100 excess, you'll only receive £2400 from your insurer.

Typically the higher you set your voluntary excess, you are likely to generate a lower premium but this could make claiming on your policy restrictive or expensive.

What is new for old cover?

With new-for-old cover, the insurer either pays the full cost of repairing damaged items or pays to replace them with equivalent new items if they're stolen or destroyed.

What is the difference between sum insured and bedroom rated cover?

There are generally two different ways to select the level of cover you need.

A sum-insured policy involves working out the rebuilding cost of your home (not the market price but the cost of rebuilding the property from scratch) and the insurer calculates your premium based on that basis on that specified amount of cover.

A bedroom-rated policy is based on the number of bedrooms your home has and is set to a maximum level of cover so there is no need to specify the rebuild amount of your property.

All of the Assurant policies provide varying levels of cover with the majority being bedroom rated.

What if I am unhappy with how my claim has been handled?

If your claim is not dealt with to your satisfaction or you feel that your insurer has treated you unfairly then you can take it further. You can speak to your adviser or us or your insurer but if this does not help, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service by calling 0300 123 9123.

You usually have six months from the time you reach deadlock with your insurer in which to make a complaint. The FOS' decision is binding on companies but not on the consumer, so you could, if you wish, refer the matter to court.

General Information

View

Assurant Intermediary - Terms and Conditions

View and download the Assurant Intermediary terms and conditions

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ABI Guide to Home Insurance

A helpful guide published by the ABI to help learn more about Home Insurance

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www.Police.uk

Check the reported incidents in any postcode area for risk of crime

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www.checkmyfloodrisk.co.uk

Check the flood risk for your clients postcode, showing visible and unknown areas of water

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How much contents cover do I need?

Calculate the amount of contents cover you need - you may be surprised!

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