Do you need to let your insurer know if you’re doing building work?

Do you need to let your insurer know if you’re doing building work?

If you’re having building work carried out on your property, it nearly always increases the risk of damage to the home’s structure or contents.

Insurers are, of course, well aware of this and in nearly all cases require you to notify them before work starts and discuss what you’re planning. If you don’t, you risk invalidating your home insurance and not being able to claim for any accidents your builder might cause.

What will my insurer do?

Once you’ve told your insurer that you’re thinking of having building work carried out, you’ll be asked a number of questions about what exactly is going to happen to ascertain what level of extra risk it poses to your home.

Some insurers will send you a questionnaire to complete, while others will simply discuss your improvement plans over the phone or via email.

Your insurer will probably ask for the name of any contractors and building companies involved, and whether these companies have insurance and what their history of carrying out similar work is.

Will it cost me extra? Why?

Once your insurer has collated all the information, they may decide that you need to pay more for your insurance for the duration of the work, which, if you look at it from an insurer’s perspective, is understandable.

Load bearing walls might be being replaced or completely removed, pipework and electrics overhauled and ceilings and roofs changed; all sorts of things can go wrong which could damage the structure of the building, or your possessions, which would cost the insurer if you then made a claim.

Additionally, with walls, doors and windows possibly being removed, and builders and contractors coming and going, your home may be more prone to burglary.

The insurer will work out an increase in you premiums, or a one-off payment, which they believe is fair to cover the additional risk.

Increased total cover

When complete, major building work such as adding extra bedrooms or a conservatory means that your home would cost more to re-build than before if in the event of it being totally destroyed.

So the re-building cost built into your policy when you first took out cover may need to be increased. You can work this out with the help of your insurer and, quite possibly, the builder carrying out the work might be happy to give you an estimate.

Unfortunately, this could mean your premiums increasing slightly but unless you’re massively increasing the size of your home, this is unlikely to be by much, if at all.

Many policies now have a fixed maximum re-build cost as standard, often as much as up to £500,000, which is suitable for the vast majority of properties in the UK.

Keep your insurer in the loop

Irrespective of the type of work you’ve had carried out, and even if your existing policy means you’re still covered for the new total re-build costs, you need to indicate to your insurer what the new lay out and areas within your home are.

If you don’t, and your home burned to the ground, for example, your insurer could say they weren’t aware of the new structure and therefore the risks involved in insuring it, and refuse to pay out for a claim.

Policy Expert
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Published 3 December 2013