Guessing the answer to questions when applying for car or home insurance is easily done, but it could end up costing you dearly.
If you’re applying for home insurance, for example, you might not bother making a proper assessment of the total replacement cost of your home’s contents and guess at £15,000.
But if you subsequently make a claim and the insurer decides that the correct figure is actually £20,000 – a quarter more – the pay-out could very well be 25% less than the claim, even if it’s only for a few thousand pounds rather than the maximum sum allowed.
And that’s just one example. Here are the main areas when it comes to home and car cover where guessing simply isn’t good enough.
- Flood risk – When applying for home insurance, you’ll be asked if you live in an area that’s at risk of flooding. If you say you don’t, when you do, and your home is subsequently flooded, you might find it very hard to make a successful claim for damage. You can check using the Government’s information website, Gov.uk in the ‘Long term flood risk’ information section.
- Underestimating the value of contents – As explained above, if you underestimate how much the contents of your home would cost to replace, any claim you subsequently make could be reduced in proportion to your underestimation.Remember that ‘contents’ also includes items which you might not immediately think of, such as carpets and curtains.
- Rebuild costs – Many policies automatically provide up to a million pounds to cover the rebuilding of a home if it was completely destroyed – in a huge fire, for example. However, not all do, and you will still be asked for a figure. Don’t forget to take into account any outbuildings such as garages, barns and summer houses
- Locks on windows and doors – If you’re broken into and you’ve told an insurer that your home has high quality, British standard locks on all doors and windows, but it doesn’t, any claim you make will probably be rejected. Make sure you describe your home’s security correctly.
- Alarm systems – If you say your home has a working alarm system but you don’t actually use it, you could be in for trouble. Insurers expect alarms to be switched on whenever you’re out and could penalise you if that’s not the case and you make a claim.
- Age of a property – Check the age of your home by looking at the title deeds, or at least by asking neighbours if they know. It’s usually okay if you are correct only within a decade or so, but not by much more. So if you say it was built in the 1940s, but it was actually the 1840s, your insurer might not meet a claim for storm damage, for example.
- No claims discount (NCD) – The number of years you’ve gone without making a claim on your car insurance is valuable to you. Insurers apply a discount to the cost of cover depending on the number of years this comes to – usually up to five. You need to get this right as if you move insurers as the new insurer may or may not ask for proof and if you get it wrong, it could affect subsequent claims.
- Mileage – Mileage is something it’s so easy to get wrong, but if you do 1,500 miles a year but in fact do 15,000, it could affect your ability to claim on your cover. One of the easiest ways to check is to look at your MOT history on the Government information site, Gov.uk in the ‘Check MOT history’ section.
- Work or pleasure? – If you commute to work, but put down when applying for car insurance that you only use your car for ‘social’ use, again, it could affect your ability to claim.
- Where you keep your car – You might have a garage and say that’s where you keep your car. But if you don’t ever use it and actually nearly always park the car on the street, it could spell trouble. If it’s stolen, or broken into, an insurer may say that your policy is invalidated as they’ve been covering you on the basis that you stated it’s actually kept in a much safer place.
- Alarm/immobilising system – As with all other insurance areas where your response is important, don’t simply guess at the type of security your car has. Looking in your car’s manual, or Googling your car’s number plate should provide the information fairly quickly. Or, if you’re still in doubt, as at the garage where you get your MOT done.
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Published 20 August 2019