Home Insurance

For the vast majority of people the insurance on their house and contents affords protection on their most valuable of assets. Property prices in the UK are some of the highest in Europe and home ownership is much more common.

To protect such assets it is important to get the cover correct for your individual needs. Most insurers offer a package cover under which you can insure the buildings and/or contents and personal possessions (contents taken away from your home). Usually the more covers you select the greater the discount allowed, as many Insurers give multi-sectional discounts.

Many years ago the policies were sold on a selected sum insured basis and rated accordingly. However, most insurers now operate a standard sum insured which caters for the vast majority. On contents this can range from £35,000 to £60,000 depending on the company. On buildings some insurers offer up to £500,000 as a standard limit. The advantage of such policies is that you’re unlikely to be caught for under-insurance.

Under-insurance can seriously reduce the value of claim payments made by the insurance company. You need to insure the cost of demolishing the existing structure, clearing the site, all professional fees including planning and the construction of the replacement structure. If your property has been subject to a mortgage it may have been surveyed, the surveyor normally indicates the re-building cost sum insured required to protect the lenders interest. If you can establish this, subject to index-linking, it should be accurate. You should not insure for market value as this has no relevance to an insurance contract. A useful guide can be found under www.bcis.co.uk. Because you’re insuring your most valuable asset we would recommend you err on the side of caution and over insure.

As mentioned earlier most contents insurance is sold in a pre-packaged amount normally rated on the number of bedrooms. If this is adequate you should check the inner limits on valuables, frozen foods and the like, to ensure the whole package is suitable for your needs. It is important to disclose all relevant facts such as criminal convictions, bankruptcies, CCJs and previous claims or incidents (even if these did not actually lead to an Insurance claim).

Please be aware that these apply not only to the applicants, but also to family members or persons otherwise residing at the premises. Non-disclosure may invalidate the contract; take a lot of care when answering the questions set, particularly about the risk of flooding and subsidence in your locality.

There are two levels of cover to choose from – Standard (cheaper option), which covers losses due to a defined listed event such as fire, theft and escape of water etc and Accidental Damage (dearer option) offers the widest cover and can include a range of unexpected and unforeseen events that might otherwise not be covered by a claim.

Our recommendation would be to take the accidental damage option on buildings and contents and include personal possessions away from home (also known as all risks); this will give us the greatest opportunity to get a loss covered by your Insurance. If price becomes an issue consider an additional excess over and above the normal £50. The majority or our customers view the policy as insurance against catastrophe and are prepared to absorb small losses in any case. In recent years if you make lots of small claims underwriters will reflect these in your premium or excess anyway.

Generally you may be asked to list any item over £1000 in value and in some circumstances you will need to provide evidence of value on the more expensive items. It is important that you should be able to substantiate a loss; insurers often ask for a purchase receipt, etc. We suggest you take photographs/videos of your possessions as these do help with claims. Remember to keep the records in a safe place as there is no point having these damaged in the same claim.

Most policy cover is very broad, however as pointed out by the pets exclusion, you may have specific needs which means one contract is better for you than the others. In addition the market now offers mid and high net worth contracts for those clients who need cover above the normal limits. Cover under these can be very broad, as it is generally a lifestyle contract. We would be more than pleased to find the right one tailored to your needs. It is also important to be aware of the security conditions automatically applied if you have a lot of valuables at risk or live in a high crime risk area. These normally relate to minimum window and door lock requirements. If you have this security but it is not a requirement by the insurer we suggest you do not take the resultant premium discount (often small) as the policy will contain a warranty that they be operational (i.e. leaving a window inadvertently open could invalidate your claim).

Household Insurance can be very broad and whilst many policies seem very similar, the devil’s in the detail and it is about finding the product that best suits your needs.

At BH&S Insurance we can access many products to protect your most valuable of assets and will always help with our knowledge and experience on any claim you need to make.