…and you look after your home in the process
One in five home insurance claims were refused in 2013 and 2014 according to research by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
The ABI believe the main reasons why claims are refused are misconceptions by policyholders about what they are covered for and what constitutes a valid claim.
Fortunately, for our Executive Home Cover clients, it’s very rare for an insurance claim to be refused – that’s down to the quality of the insurer we use combined with the advice we give. We talk through any potential claims with our clients and present it in the correct way to the insurer.
We’ve highlighted the most common mistakes made by other people when insuring their home and what you can do to proactively protect your property against potential threats.
- Ensure your property is well maintained
Home insurance is designed to cover loss or damage resulting from a sudden event, such as a flood or a storm. A policy will usually expressly exclude problems that occur over time, “wear and tear” or “lack of maintenance” clauses.
In the event you find your claim is denied and having to prove the damage isn’t “wear and tear” it is advisable to hire a good structural engineer, surveyor or independent loss adjuster to show that damage was more likely to have been a result of a sudden event covered by your policy.
The best advice is to keep your property well maintained in the first instance. Common reasons why claims are denied for poor maintenance include:
- Poor roof upkeep, such as dislodged tiles and cracked chimneys, or problems with flat roofs means the damage that occurred during a storm wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
- Water damage from bathroom tiling which hasn’t been re-grouted sufficiently regularly.
- Get the correct locks fitted in your property and remember to use them
In your home or contents insurance policy small print there may be a requirement to fit a certain type of door and window lock or it will mention the locks you disclosed. Make sure you know exactly what you have and describe it accurately. If you are later burgled and the insurers discover you didn’t have the type of lock you said you did, it could invalidate your claim.
- Notify your insurer if work is to be carried out at the property such as refurbishments on a large scale or extensions.
- Never leave keys outside the property where they could be easily accessed by third parties
Also keep track of who has sets of spare keys or regular access to the property. You as a policyholder are responsible for protecting your home and taking steps to safeguard against burglary. A staggering 39 per cent of homeowners have admitted to leaving a spare key hidden outside of the property.
- You cannot insure a property you don’t have an “interest” in
Marital splits or family interest may result in a policyholder wrongly taking out insurance on a property that they themselves have no financial interest in even though they live there (e.g. they are not on the mortgage or perhaps are living in their parents’ house). The buildings policy needs to be taken out by the parties who have the financial interest in the property, regardless of who is living there.
- Disclose any criminal convictions, even pending charges, court cases or trials
Convictions are taken very seriously by insurers when providing insurance and failure to disclose can result not just in the claim being denied but the whole policy being invalidated.
- Financial Disclosure
You must disclose whether you or anyone living with you have ever been declared bankrupt, been subject to bankruptcy proceedings, been served with any county court judgements or other judgements in relation to debt.
- Keep receipts for high-value items and have regular valuations (every 3 years)
Many high net worth policies require you to have valuations every three years for high value items to ensure the sums insured are accurate. Ensure you store your records electronically as well as hard copy in case of fire or flood- scan or take pictures of receipts and then email them to yourself. (We also recommend you take photographs alongside a ruler for jewellery so in the case of loss or theft they can be more easily replaced).
- Unoccupied properties
If you’re planning a long holiday, double check if your home will be covered while you’re away. Most insurers set a limit of 30 to 60 days during which a property can be left unoccupied. (Contact us and we can advise what your limit is).
If you go away during winter think very carefully about switching the heating off completely. While it might reduce your energy bill, it could invalidate your insurance.
- Garages / Outhouses
If a garage is not attached to the property and is across the road or elsewhere always make this clear to your insurance company to ensure the contents are insured.
- Letting your property
If you let your property short or long-term or on a B&B basis always notify your insurer as there is a commercial arrangement in place and landlord insurance may be deemed more suitable. Find out more about our buy-to-let insurance.
- Social Media
Don’t allow thieves to know your whereabouts by broadcasting your empty property on social media.
- Digital files
These days, people tend to digitally store their entire music collection as well as photos, videos and other data. Insurers differ about how they treat the loss of digital files. Some won’t cover them at all but others provide cover up to set limits.
However, accidentally download something that contains a virus that wreaks havoc on your computer and you’re on your own as home insurers generally don’t cover loss or corruption due to software viruses.
At Executive Home Cover we offer a range of insurance covers designed especially for High Net Worth Individuals.
Click below to find out more or contact us on 01489 579808 to discuss your individual requirements.