What level of cover do I need for my house insurance Northern Ireland?
The most important note is that you don’t need to insure the market value of your home i.e. the amount you could sell it for. You need to insure the cost of replacing it – but remember if the worst happened you would be replacing everything in the house including fixtures and fittings like bathrooms and kitchens so you need to estimate how much this would cost. Once you have the actual building insured, you then need to think about cover for what is in the premises, otherwise known as contents insurance. When you are thinking about the level of contents insurance you need to try and add up the cost of all your possessions if you had to replace them all. Remember high value items (normally over £1k) need to be specifically identified and listed as otherwise they may not be covered if you have to make a claim. Items that fall under this could be things like laptops, jewellery, bikes and other sporting items, artwork or family memorabilia.
Practical steps to avoid having to make a claim
Clearly everyone would agree that they would rather not have to make a claim on their insurance. Take a few practical steps to reduce the likelihood of having to make a claim in the first place or to reduce the value of the claim if something happens:
- Make sure your fire alarm is working – not only could this save your life, it will also give you a better chance of knowing a fire has started and reducing the damage it could cause
- Put your burglar alarm on, lock your doors/windows and don’t leave the key in them. Keep your valuables locked up securely and don’t leave them in sight. This might seem like basic common sense, but why advertise your possessions and make it easier for people to break in to your home and take your things?
- Find out where your stop cock valve is so that you can turn it off quickly if you have a burst pipe. Keep low heat on in empty buildings to avoid your pipes freezing in the first place.
- Keep your home well maintained by cleaning gutters etc. This will help prevent storm damage and also reduce the likelihood of a claim not being covered because the house wasn’t adequately maintained.
How do I make sure I have the right cover in place?
It’s always best to talk to an expert when you are organising your home insurance in Northern Ireland. Take the time to speak to one of the team at Property Insurance Centre and let them talk you through all the right questions and options to find you the best cover for your needs. A personalised quotation should save you money, time and give you the comfort of knowing you have the right Home Insurance NI policy in place for your home.
What should you expect on a standard Home Insurance NI Policy with Property Insurance Centre?
There are various levels of insurance cover with the different providers on the market. People often ask in the event of a claim, “What am I covered for?” We recommend and aim to point out what you are covered long before you are in the unfortunate position where you may have to consider making a claim. To answer the above question in a single word – “Perils.” Perils are events, think of storm, fire or flood for example. Events that we all understand are standard insured event on a standard Home Insurance Policy. Normally, you can view the perils insured under Section A of your Policy Wording – this will provide a list of what is cover with the usual exceptions or exclusions. This is the important part of your wording to avoid disappointment when making a claim for something that is not on the list.
Straight away you may interpret this as no cover for things like maintenance, including damp, wear & tear, Dry Rot etc. You would be correct. Too many policy holder believe that whatever goes wrong with their building, the insurance company will fix. Getting an understanding of the Perils Insured, will give a good insight in to how one should upkeep their property periodically and therefore avoid the disappointment of exaggerated wear & tear on the building due to relative neglect. Gaining an understanding of what is not covered, is a useful way to understand what is insured.
Top tip: Find a Handy Man in your local periodical. They are vast in numbers and normally easy to pay. They will clear out your Gutters that you can’t reach, unblocks drains and everything in between. They have ladders and equipment that you don’t have and more importantly they have the time to do it if you are away at work and can’t do the work once you’re home due to family commitments or the dark nights in winter time. They will take care of the things you can’t claim for, and save you a fortune in the meantime.
Remember: Most damage in terms of maintenance occurs during the Winter Months. Constant Rain, Snow, Wind leads to all sorts of issues during this time. Many of us work long hours and don’t even get the chance to maintain our buildings. The weekend comes and you are chasing your tail getting ready for the working week ahead in addition to ‘family time’ and visiting relatives. We have all been there, so at the very least get a handy man during the winter months.
This will include cover where your buildings are damages by Fire, Smoke, Explosion or Lightning.
Not particularly common in UK and you may think not that important either. However, as recently as 23rd January 2020 Co Durham suffered an earthquake to the magnitude of 3.0. Rumbling and shaking of building was described by residents. You can see the store here from a National Newspaper.
Riot Insurance – Insurance will pay for claims where there is damage caused by Riot or Civil Commotion. Normally you will have to report the damage within 7 days or as specified in the policy wording.
Vandalism is a common claim in the UK. Normally the insurer will not however, pay for claims due to vandalism from a family member or someone you have allowed on your premises – this will include the likes of a cleaner or tradesman or even a tenant. When the property is unoccupied, Vandalism Insurance is also excluded.
Aircraft Insurance or Moving Objects – If your building is hit by falling objects such as Aircraft, cars or trees, your building insurer will normally cover this for you. When a building is struck and damaged by a vehicle this is sometime referred to as Impact Insurance. If a tree falls and does not strike the actual building causing damage, this will normally be excluded and the insurer will not may to remove the fallen tree. Also normally the gates, hedges & fences are excluded if struck in addition to radio aerials, satellite dishes, masts and their fittings.
Storm Insurance – Normally means strong winds of over 55mph, or damage by extreme rain or snow. Rainfall is normally considered to be extreme if more than an inch fall with a single hour. Snow is considered to be extreme if 12 inches or more fall with a 24 hour period. Gates and fences are normally excluded in addition to Swimming Pools, Hot Tubs, damage to the internal s of a building if there is poor maintenance & signs of wear & tear (another reason to get a handyman to keep on top of things).
Flood Insurance – This normally means water that comes suddenly into your buildings from outside & which enters the property from the ground floor or basement. Again, Gates & Fences, swimming pools, hot tubs are all standard exclusions under this peril on an insurance policy.
Subsidence Insurance – This commonly includes Subsidence, Landslip & Ground Heave. Subsidence is the downward movement of the ground underneath the buildings. Ground Heave is described as the upwards or sideways movement of the ground under the building, which can often happen as a result of the soil expanding. Landslip may occur if the building is situated on a hill and the ground below the building moved. It is therefore the downward movement of sloping land underneath the building. There are numerous exclusions to this event, such as if the buildings are built from materials that are liable to shrink or expand for example. Also something called settlement will not normally be a standard exclusion. Settlement is when there is downward movement of the buildings caused by the soil underneath becoming compressed by the weight of the buildings. It should not be confused with Subsidence – it is caused by the weight of the property as opposed to the actual soil changing underneath. Another important exclusion under this peril is that it will not pay for sea or river eroding the land underneath where the building is situated.
Escape of Water Insurance – This will include damage caused by water leaking from a tank, pipe or boiler. Commonly in winter time there will be freezing pipes resulting in leaks which will be covered under this peril. It will also include water leaking from home appliances or even fish tanks for example. There are standard exclusions however, and these will include the likes of escape of water whilst the property is empty, or perhaps failure of sealants or lack of grouting due to wear & tear (another reason to keep maintaining your home).
Escape of Oil Insurance – This will include oil leaking for pipework from perhaps an oil-fired heating system. If you have an oil tank on site, it is important to check this regularly for any cracks or wear & tear to prevent any issue should there be an oil leak directly from the tank itself. Oil can also cause environmental issues if in a certain protected area, which has now brought to the fore the question as to whether or not insurers should start incorporating or at least providing an Environmental Liability Policies on a grander scale. This is something to consider & not all policy holder are aware of its existence.
Theft Insurance – This normally covers policy holders for any damages to their property resulting from theft or attempted theft. This will include the likes of Fixtures & Fittings, copper pipes and lead flashing for example. This cover will normally have some notable exclusions and not least theft or attempted theft by anyone legally on your premises, such as a gardener, nanny or cleaner. Theft whilst the property is also unoccupied is a strict exclusion on a standard policy.
Professional Fees & costs – This will include any necessary and reasonable costs the policy holder would incur if the buildings are damaged, so long as the damage is covered elsewhere under the policy. This will include the likes of Legal Fees, Surveyor Fees & architect fees.
Underground pipes & Drains – You will be insured for the cost to repair the fabric of underground pipes, drains and tanks that serve your home, should they be accidentally damaged. This will however not include blocked drains, unless the said blockage is due to structural damage to the drain itself.
Glass, Sanitary & other Fittings – The cost of repairing/replacing any fixed glass, ceramic hobs and glass oven doors if they are accidentally damaged are insured under a standard policy. This is conditional on these items being permanent fixtures. Scratching, denting, damage whilst unoccupied are normally excluded. The cost of repairing window or door frames are also excluded when accidentally damaged.
Rent/Alternative Accommodation – If you home becomes uninhabitable due to an insured loss, the insurer will normally pay any cost for accommodation away from the home or any rent you may be in receipt of. This include accommodation for your family and any pets.
Protection when you sell your Property – If you have exchanged contracts to sell your home, the buyer will normally be given the benefit of the insurance until the sale is completed. This is the case of course unless the buyer has insurance elsewhere.
Damage from Emergency Services – A standard policy will cover the cost of damage to your home caused by the emergency services whilst accessing your home in the case of an emergency. This may cover the likes of the building, garden items, such as flowerbeds, hedges, lawns, shrubs, potted plants or trees within the boundaries of your home.
Replacement Locks & Keys – The cost of replacing and installing new locks on outside doors if your keys are lost or stolen will normally be insured on a standard home insurance policy.
Being forced to leave your home – The insurer will normally pay equivalent costs of similar accommodation for you and your family of a local authority will not permit you to live in your buildings because of damage to a nearby property, which may be ‘unsafe’. Normally the alternative accommodation is only allowed up to a maximum of 30 days.
Home Improvements – Buying new fixtures for your home will no doubt increase the house reinstatement cost. However most standard policies will cover you for damage up to 60 days after they are bought. This may include the likes of bathroom suite.
Get in touch if you want to discuss any of the covers available on our Home Insurance NI products. We are not a Call Centre and our friendly & approachable staff will answer any queries you have. Call us on 0800 085 3761.