Aware the incident could have been much worse, the couple were still left with an enormous mess to sort out. High winds had caused the inside of the chimney to collapse. However, Alex and Megan’s home insurance provider refused to pay for the structural damage because, according to their terms and conditions, the wind hadn’t been strong enough to constitute a storm. They also refused to replace the living room carpet because the couple’s contents insurance didn’t include accidental damage cover.
So, what can you do to make sure your home insurance provides you with the protection you’d expect when the unexpected happens?
Let’s start at the beginning – what exactly is home insurance?
Home insurance financially protects your home against damage or theft but is typically split into two parts – buildings and contents.
Buildings insurance – this covers the building itself, including walls, floors, doors, windows and the roof. It also covers permanent fixtures such as baths, toilets, fitted kitchens and even wallpaper.
Contents insurance – This typically covers anything that can be taken with you if you move e.g. kitchen appliances, furniture and valuables.
Not all home insurance is equal
As Alex and Megan discovered to their cost, not all home insurance is equal. Although tempting to simply go with the cheapest option, it’s always best to check the details of any policy you’re considering seeing exactly what’s included. For example, some buildings insurance covers garages, greenhouses and garden sheds but some policies don’t.
It’s also a good idea to check for exclusions. You may find some insurers won’t pay out for anything considered to be the result of general wear and tear or damage that happens over time, such as damp or rot.
Meanwhile, contents insurance generally has a single-item limit, meaning high-value possessions may need to be named separately. You may also have to pay extra to cover belongings when they are taken outside your home.
There are also certain add ons that are worth thinking about to provide a way to get cover without paying for a more expensive policy with features you may not need. These include:
- Accidental damage cover – This provides cover for accidents that occur around your home.
- Home emergency cover – This protects your home against emergency call outs or repairs like a burst water pipe.
- Personal possessions – This covers items that are used away from home such as handbags and mobile phones.
- Legal expenses – This covers the cost of legal proceedings if you need to take action or defend a claim.
Do you really need home insurance?
Homeowners – although buildings insurance isn’t a legal requirement, most mortgage lenders insist on it. No one is going to force you to buy contents insurance but it can provide valuable peace of mind and combining it with your buildings insurance may save you money.
Renters – you don’t need to worry about buildings insurance – this is your landlord’s responsibility. However, contents insurance may be a sensible idea.
Approved by The Openwork Partnership on 25/01/2023.