When protecting your greatest asset it is important to source the correct house insurance. In order to do this you should use an independent house insurance broker who can deal with and compare policies from a large panel of insurers and advise you on what is best for you in relation to price and cover. All home insurance products are not the same and the only way that you can know that you are getting the right cover and the best value is to use the services of an independent broker. An independent Insurance Broker will know the differences in cover between the various insurers and will be able to match you with the most suitable insurer based on cover and price.
Plan your Policy Wisely
When deciding to purchase home insurance you need to plan the policy wisely. You need to consider what your requirements and risks are!
You will need buildings insurance and if you have a mortgage you will need the insurers to note the interest of the lender on the policy and issue a letter of indemnity.
You will need to consider contents insurance and how much it would cost you to replace all of the contents of your house if you had to go out and buy everything new! A good way to do this is to take a little time and go through the house room by room and note all of the contents and personal possessions and list the replacement cost. You may be surprised at the total number you reach at the end!
You need to provide details of any single item worth more than 5% of the total contents sum insured.
You need to consider what contents you need cover for away from the house – Jewellery, Clothes, Sports Equipment, Golf Clubs etc. and then you need to ensure these items for “All Risks” cover.
Know Approximate Replacement & Rebuild Costs
When you insure your home and possessions it is essential that you make sure you are insuring them for the correct value. In the event of a claim insurance companies will check that you are insured for the correct value at risk and if you are underinsured they will reduce the amount of the claim by the amount you are underinsured by! For example, a house with a rebuilding cost of €300,000 that is insured for €200,000 – in the event of a small fire where there is €60,000 of damage caused the insurers will calculate the % of underinsurance and reduce the claim by this amount! – in this case 30% underinsurance so the claim will be settled at €40,000 leaving the insured with a shortfall of €20,000 to make up themselves. The same condition will apply to underinsurance of your contents and all risks items. To check that you have the correct rebuilding costs on your policy please see https://www.scsi.ie/advice/house_rebuilding_calculator
Keep a List of your Valuables
In the event of a claim under the contents or All Risks section of your policy, you will want things to go as smoothly as possible. There are a number of ways to help with this –
List all of your valuables (typically any item worth more than 5% of the total contents value) and if possible have photos and valuations for these items.
The same applies to items that you have covered while away from the house (All Risks Cover) it is always helpful to have photos and valuations in the event of a claim.
Take all reasonable steps to make sure your property is protected. Although your insurance policy will cover you in the event of a loss it can be a very traumatic experience and prevention is better than cure!
Always make sure you have smoke alarms in the house and if they are not mains operated check the batteries regularity and test that the siren is working. This not only protects your property but it may well save your life in the event of fire.
Get an intruder alarm fitted and make sure that you activate it every time you leave the house and at night when you go to bed.
Use your locks – many people have five lever mortice deadlocks fitted to their external doors but do not use them when they leave the house. This makes it easy for burglars to break into your home! However, if you double lock the doors at night make sure you leave the key in the lock or in a designated spot nearby to ensure you and your family will not be trapped in the house in the event of a fire.
Be Wary of Annual Increases
Be aware of annual property value increases that could drive your house insurance policy up due to it increasing your rebuild costs.
Most house insurance policies have index linking built into the buildings sum insured. This means that the insurers are automatically increasing the buildings sum insured each year to protect against inflation. This gives you additional protection but you can choose not to accept the increases if you feel that the sum insured is sufficient without the index linking.
The most important thing is to make sure you are adequately covered while not overpaying for cover you do not need.
Always Shop Around for the best House Insurance Deals
There are many insurers who all offer various home insurance policies and products which means that there are hundreds of options available to you at your renewal time giving a choice of covers and prices.
Always shop around as a good broker will check all the options for you and make sure you are getting the best cover and value for money.
The best deal this year may not be the most competitive next year!
Less is not always More
Getting a very low cost deal is not always the best idea. Make sure everything is covered in your home for your policy to be worthwhile.
When you consider the difference in premium between a policy that is focused purely on a cheap price and a policy that is focused on quality covers and then considers the potential downside from not having a claim covered in the event of a loss – the savings may not be worth the risk.
The way to avoid this is to use a broker who will find you the best combination of cover and price!