The old idiom ‘the devil is in the detail’ could not be more appropriate than when applied to home insurance contracts.
Many people make claims only to subsequently find that they’re not actually covered, having not taken more notice of the small print when they took out the policy in the first place.
Get to grips with the detail
If they’d checked more carefully, they might have realised they weren’t protected in the way they thought. From stolen bicycles, to damage to home extensions, claims are made and rejected every year to the surprise of those making them.
Common cover pitfalls to watch out for
There are a number of common pitfalls to be aware of when taking out a new policy, or going through the details of the one you have:
• Re-building costs – Don’t underestimate how much it would cost to re-build your home! If you’re unsure you could pay a chartered surveyor to tell you, or ask a trustworthy local builder.
• Go over the small print, again and again – The policy details might seem a little boring, but thoroughly check you understand exactly what’s insured, and what isn’t, and how much for, and what exclusions apply.
• Excessive excess? – Be sure you’re happy with the amount of ‘excess’ you have to pay in the event of a claim. If, for example, it might comes as a surprise if the first £400 has to be covered by you if you do have to make a claim, you’ve probably only got yourself to blame.
• Building work – If you build on to your property, converting the loft into a bedroom or adding an extension on the ground floor perhaps, tell your insurer. If you don’t, any subsequent claim could be invalidated.
• Don’t assume everything’s covered – Some items, such as bicycles, valuable jewellery and musical instruments, expensive gadgets such as laptops and iPads, may not be covered and/or need specifying in your policy. If you assume they’re covered without checking, you could end up disappointed.
• New for old – Many policies offer to exchange stolen or damaged items on a ‘new for old’ basis. However, some don’t (usually the cheaper policies), so double check if you don’t want to end up with valuations based on your possessions second hand value.
• Tell the truth – Be completely honest with policy provider or it could come back to haunt you. If you’ve had a claim rejected, if you smoke, if you have tenants and so on; if the truth is the opposite to that indicated on the application forms, it could invalidate a claim. Insurers often only check the information you provide at the point of claim, and saying you simply ‘forgot’ when you first took out the insurance is no defence.
• ‘Inner limits’ (i.e. the number of claims per item) – Some policies only allow you to make a claim for one of the same type of items. For example, if you have a pair of candlesticks stolen or broken your insurer may only pay out for one, not both.
• Unnecessary optional extras – You may have unwittingly signed up for optional extras that you don’t really need. Some insurers bundle these in with the policies they offer as standard, so they can be somewhat hidden. Such extras might include freezer or boiler cover; but yours might be brand new and come with its own guarantee anyway.
• Cooling off period – Don’t forget that even if you find something in the small print that you decide you didn’t want after you’ve already paid, it’s not too late. You have a 14-day ‘cooling off’ period during which you can cancel or have your policy amended.
We’re dedicated to helping customers find the insurance policy that’s right for them. Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, so we have a team of experts with a real passion for making sure people get the cover that’s right for them. To speak to one of our experts, call 0203 014 9300 or email email@example.com