Improve rather than move seems to be the mantra at the moment, as UK homeowners are renovating, extending, converting lofts and refitting kitchens and bathrooms rather than buying a new house. The number of people choosing to improve not move has risen fivefold since 2014 and is currently around 4 million people.
If you are planning a renovation project, or have just started, you may have decided to take the plunge as it’s a more straightforward and economical alternative to moving. But there can be pitfalls along the way. Now while we can’t help you patch things up with tetchy neighbours, or ensure a seamless building project, we can help you with your insurance issues, so you and your lovely improved house are covered for every eventuality.
Do I need to tell my insurer that I am undertaking renovations?
Yes! If you don’t you may risk being uninsured in the event of a claim, as your policy may have a limit for renovations or terms around your property being unoccupied. For example:
- You may not be covered for theft.
- You may not be covered if your alarm has been disconnected.
- Your property may no longer be deemed “secure”.
- Giving a key to your builders may invalidate your policy.
At what stage of my renovation should I tell my insurer?
Tell your insurance provider if you’re doing any improvements, building, excavation or alteration before you start the work. They’ll want to know details so they can assess the risk to your property and the potential extra value that could be added once the work is completed.
With more minor work, you should still check with your provider to be on the safe side, but if you’re just adding a lick of paint to a room this isn’t necessary.
What happens if my property will be unoccupied while the work is being carried out?
If you’re planning to leave your property for more than 30 days during your project, you need to tell your insurance provider. There may impose terms on your policy due to the unoccupied period.
Insurance claims during renovations
Before starting your project, you’ll probably feel very prepared and in control. You’ll get several quotes from reputable builders and feel comfortable that your project is in safe hands. However, please don’t think you definitely won’t need to make a claim, and “it won’t happen to me” as unfortunately the statistics reflect that may not be the case.
Here are the top 10 insurance claims we see during building works:
- Theft of building materials and equipment (e.g. bathroom and kitchen fittings).
- Escape of water (e.g. burst pipes and water sources connected to the home).
- Storm damage (damage from storms excluding flooding e.g. high winds).
- Flooding from ground water (flooding from rainfall/storms).
- Party wall claims (damage to a neighbour’s property where there’s a boundary wall e.g. semi-detached homes).
- Public liability (e.g. guests at your home injured by a tradesmen).
- Fire (e.g. caused by an amateur electrician).
- Ground movement (subsidence caused by building works).
- Accidental damage (e.g. items being dropped by a tradesman).
- Malicious damage (e.g. vandalism).
If you want to make sure that you are fully covered, please email email@example.com.
My neighbour has caused damage to my home. What should I do?
If you’re submitting a claim to your neighbour’s home insurance provider, you’ll need to prove that the damage caused was their fault. You will need hard evidence to prove this.
Even if the damage was your neighbour’s fault, or due to their negligence or poor maintenance, their insurance provider may refuse to accept the claim. In this case, your neighbour will have to pay to have the damage repaired and may be reticent to do so. If they refuse to pay, or don’t have insurance, you’ll need to tell your insurance company. They may choose to settle the claim and then recover costs from your neighbour or their insurance provider.
I don’t need to increase my cover as my builder has insurance
Contractors may have elements of cover in place, but this can often be patchy due to exclusions. For example, exclusions may include work carried out over a certain height, or renovations that involve particular activities like demolition or the application of heat such as blow torches.
Bear in mind that your builder has likely chosen their insurance based on the premium and they don’t have your best interests at heart. For this reason, it’s critical that you have the right level of cover in place before work begins, so you can rely on your insurer to cover costs and avoid legal complications if things go wrong.
Our policies cover these scenarios – does yours?
- Non negligent liability: cover for work that’s being carried out on your home but causes damage to a third party’s property and no one is notably negligent.
- Alternative accommodation: if your home is left uninhabitable, alternative accommodations will be arranged.
- Property owners’ liability: cover to protect you as a property owner for any liability that is brought against you.
- All risks cover: the existing structure and contract works are fully covered with few restrictions.
- On and offsite storage: cover for materials used in your project, whether stored on or off site.
If you’re not sure if your coverage is this thorough, or you have any questions about your existing policy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can Condor Private Clients help me?
If you have questions about your current policy, or your current provider is unable to cover you for the work you have planned because of insurer limits or too many restrictions and endorsements, then please get in touch.
We have access to insurers who will cover you for between £75,000 and £200,000 worth of renovations.
For larger projects, we can consider moving your household insurance over to a specific policy called ‘The Works’.
For advice and questions on any insurance renovation issue, please email email@example.com for further details.
Posted 25th June 2020