Home Improvement and Home InsuranceThe cost of moving home and uncertainty in the housing market means increasing numbers of people are choosing to carry out home improvements rather than sell. The right home improvements can add as much as twenty percent to the value of your property. Some simple DIY projects can help to improve your home and make it a more pleasant environment to live in. For larger renovations, such as building extensions, it’s usually makes sense to appoint professional contractors.

It’s important to understand that carrying out home improvement projects can have implications for your home insurance. Some projects can make your home a more attractive risk to underwriters, and this may lead to cheaper home insurance premiums. It’s always wise to let your insurance company know about any developments or projects you are planning to carry out at your home, and it can lead to problems if you fail to do so.

Consider the following points in relation to insurance when taking on home improvements.

  1) Will your home be unoccupied during renovation work? 

Unoccupied properties are generally considered as high risk by insurance underwriters. Most home insurance policies allow for a property to be left empty for thirty days, but cover may be excluded or reduced after this period. Check your policy wording or contact your broker or insurance provider if you won’t be living in your home during the period work is carried out. Specialist cover is available for properties undergoing long term renovation, and you may need to cancel your existing insurance and arrange a new policy.

2) Do your contractors have Liability insurance?

If you appoint tradesmen or contractors to carry out work on your home, always check that they have Liability insurance. Damage caused by faulty workmanship is generally excluded from house insurance contracts. For example, if a shower fitted by a plumber leaks and causes water damage, your policy may not cover the cost of repairs. If a contractor has an accident, such as smashing a window, you may have to fund the replacement cost.

3) Do building extensions involve the use of non-standard materials?

Most insurance underwriters assume that homes are constructed from bricks, stone, slates and tiles unless told otherwise. Felt roofs are an example of non-standard construction, and it’s important to check with your insurance company if any extensions to your home use unusual materials or designs. Underwriters may apply special terms to your policy as a result of changes to your home.

4) Do home improvements mean you need to increase your cover?

Failing to insure your home adequately can have serious implications in the event of a claim. The building sum insured on a home insurance policy is the amount required to rebuild a property if it’s completely destroyed. If renovations or extensions to your home mean that the total cost of rebuilding it increases, make sure that you advise your insurance providers of the new level of building insurance required.

5) Do home improvements meet security requirements?

Most home insurance contracts specify the types of door and window locks required by underwriters as a condition of cover. If you have a high sum insured for your home contents and valuables, insurance providers usually require that windows are fitted with key-operated window locks. Ensure that any renovations or extensions to your home meet the required security standards. Conservatories and patio doors can offer easy access to burglars if they aren’t protected with approved security devices.


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