Buildings Insurance Guide

Buildings Insurance Guide

The correct buildings insurance policy

Buildings insurance is vital. How could you afford to pay for the damage to your property should your roof be badly damaged by a thunderstorm or you have a fire which causes severe damage?

Should you have a mortgage, it is compulsory to have a building insurance policy. If you are an owner of a leasehold property like a flat, do not be concerned about buildings insurance because this is the freeholder's responsibility.

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So what is covered by buildings insurance cover?

Your home’s structure is covered by buildings insurance as opposed to the contents insurance. Buildings insurance cover includes permanent fixtures and fittings, like kitchen units and fitted wardrobes. The majority of policies also cover outbuildings, like garages, garden sheds and greenhouses.

A thorough policy is going to insure your home against various risks, including:

  • Smoke, fire, explosions and lightning
  • Flood and storm damage
  • Burst pipes and any other water leakage incidents
  • Subsidence, heaving of land or landslips
  • Vandalism as well as third party damage
  • Falling trees onto the property or branches which are causing damage to the property
  • Theft or any attempted theft
  • Oil leakage from the central heating system

Should you live somewhere that is at risk of flood or subsidence, you could need extra cover or your insurer can impose a higher 'excess', the amount you need to pay towards any claim. Consequently, your policy can become more expensive; however, the extra expense is likely to be worth the peace of mind.

Cover details which are usually in the small print of the policy need to be read carefully. It is also vital that you check the small print for any exclusions.

There are certain common exclusions from buildings insurance:

  • Damage due to wear and tear
  • War or acts of terrorism
  • Damage due to frost
  • Radioactive contamination
  • Sonic bangs from airplanes

It is vital that you are truthful about all the facts when you are applying for home buildings insurance, or your claim/s could be invalidated. In addition, an insurer can refuse to pay out should your property have been left unoccupied for more than 30 days.

What amount of coverage should my buildings insurance policy cover?

Your policy ought to cover the amount it would cost for a total rebuild of your home. You must get this figure right as the 'sum insured' is the maximum your policy is going to pay out. The rebuild cost is not identical to the price you paid for your home, or its current value on the open market. In actuality, the rebuild cost is most likely to be less than the current market value. Therefore, you may have to pay over the odds should you insure your property for the incorrect amount.

There are many free online calculators to enable you to calculate the rebuild costs of your home. Should you have just purchased your home the rebuild figure will be within your Mortgage Valuation.

You may have to commission a surveyor from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to calculate your property’s rebuild costs if it has any special features, like a thatched roof, or it s a listed building. You are likely to pay for this service.

Several insurers provide unlimited cover. Therefore, you do not need to calculate the rebuild costs. Should you know the rebuild figure you may find it cheaper to shop around for a policy that exactly matches your needs. Certain insurers calculate the sum insured based on an assessment of where you live, the kind and age of the property. However, the customer needs to check the accuracy of the figure.

It is crucial to o keep the sum insured up-to-date in order that you do not end up with a shortfall should you have to make a claim. Rebuild costs usually increase with time; the rebuild value of your home can increase should you make any changes to it, like build an extension or have a loft conversion. Certain insurers provide index linked policies, so the sum insured changes in line with rebuild costs.

Flooding risk

Millions of properties are at risk of flooding, hence, you could have trouble trying to arrange home insurance for them. Flood insurance claims are difficult to assess and costly. Therefore, insurers are wary insuring flood prone homes.

The Association of British Insurers has done a deal with the government to make sure that most flood prone homes have guaranteed cover, at least up to June 2013. However, you can expect to pay higher home insurance premiums should you live in a flood area. Moreover, the excess for a flood claim is likely to be high, potentially thousands of pounds.

Check out the Environment Agency website: to check out whether or not your property is at risk.

There are certain ways of protecting your home from floods; your insurer may insist on you taking specific defensive measures as a condition of your cover. Flood boards can assist keeping out water should there be a shallow or flash flood. It makes good sense to move your boiler, any meters and electrical points to well above the anticipated water level. Another measure is ensuing that floors are concrete as opposed to wood.

Cracked walls

Should you have spotted large cracks in your walls, you may have a subsidence problem. Subsidence namely affects homes in the south of England as they have been built on clay soil. So, during an elongated spell of dry weather, the soil shrinks and the property can begin to sink into the ground.

Properties more vulnerable to subsidence are most likely to cost more to insure. You may also have to pay a high premium should you wish to purchase a house which has had past subsidence.

Is it necessary to have additional buildings cover?

For an extra premium, the majority of insurers provide extra cover. A highly common policy add-on is accidental damage to your home. Say your foot goes through the loft or a ceiling by accident; your policy is going to pay out. Certain insurers also pay for alternative accommodations for a period of time should you have to be rehoused during the event of a claim.

You may wish to extend your policy cover for:

  • Damage to boundary fences, walls, gates, driveways and swimming pools.
  • Damage to underground pipes, cables, gas and electric.
  • Glass in windows, conservatories, doors and skylights.
  • Cover of legal expenses.

Should you live in a risk area for your property flooding or subsiding, you may need extra cover.

Tips on how to get cheaper buildings insurance

There are several ways in which you can save money on your buildings insurance policy, without trying to save on the sum insured.

Compare prices

  • your mortgage lender is highly likely to attempt to sell you buildings insurance; however, you are able to possibly buy it for less elsewhere. Be clear as to the level of cover necessary and ensure that you compare like for like when considering various insurers.
  • When your policy is up for renewal, do not presume that your existing cover is the best deal on offer.

your mortgage lender is highly likely to attempt to sell you buildings insurance; however, you are able to possibly buy it for less elsewhere. Be clear as to the level of cover necessary and ensure that you compare like for like when considering various insurers.

Review existing policy

  • When your policy is up for renewal, do not presume that your existing cover is the best deal on offer.

Check out our price comparison tool to obtain the best quote for you

  • Ensure you make your monthly premiums. The majority of insurers charge an additional fee should you pay monthly by direct debit. A one-off annual payment would be therefore be cheaper.
  • Increase the policy excess. The majority of insurance policies include an excess, the amount you pay towards any claim. Should you choose a higher excess, you usually have to pay a lower premium.
  • Combine your buildings and contents insurance. Should you need both buildings and contents insurance, it is usually cheaper to combine them and purchase your policy with the same insurer.
  • Not claim. Insurers normally reward policyholders who have not made claims for a period of time with a cheaper policy premium. Ensure you take some measure to limit claims, such as, installing a burglar alarm, and fitting high quality locks and smoke alarms. You can also insulate pipes and tanks to prevent them from freezing in the cold weather. Ensure you go about doing so with professional advice and assistance.

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