It’s such a relief to know you have home insurance cover. The thousands of pounds you’ve spent on furnishings, clothes, electronics, jewellery and other items won’t be wasted should your home be broken into or suffer storm damage etc.
But wait a minute. Before you sit back and sip that congratulatory gin and tonic, be aware there are ways you could potentially invalidate your home insurance – and without you even knowing (if you haven’t read the small print). The following are ways in which this could certainly happen. And if so, you’ll probably be in need of more than just one gin and tonic.
Leaving your home unattended for at least one month– whether you’re off on an unavoidable business trip, visiting a sick relative or simply enjoying yourself on an extended holiday – could prove extremely costly. That’s because most insurers insist there must be some sort of supervision of your property to mitigate any potential problems such as water damage. Regular inspections of your property by a neighbour or family member could ensure your home insurance remains valid.
Renting your home out as an Airbnb pad can prove lucrative – especially if you live in a major city, near the seaside or in a pretty country village. But before you sign up to the online property renting site, beware it could cost you a lot more than just rental income if your home gets damaged. Your home insurance policy is based on a certain number of individuals living in your property and the fact it’s being used as a residence (rather than as a short-term let to strangers). The Airbnb site itself has Host Guarantee liability insurance, but it doesn’t cover items such as jewellery, valuable artwork, cash, pets or any type of personal liability.
The same could apply to renting a spare room in your home to a long-term lodger. Whether they stay five days a week and go home at weekends or are there around the clock, in insurance terms the risks are similar. If the lodger injures themselves in your home, for instance, they may try to sue against your home insurance. If household items go missing and there’s no sign of forced entry, chances are you won’t be covered. One option here would be to look at landlords’ insurance.
Adding on an open-plan extension to the rear of your home? Lovely. But if you don’t let your insurers know and fire or some other disaster makes a mess of your property then you won’t be covered for that costly new alteration. Meanwhile, also check that your builders have their own liability insurance in case they hurt themselves while on the job – you don’t want them claiming on your insurance policy, after all.
These days millions of us in the UK are working from home. That’s fine if the only equipment you’re using is a second-hand computer, printer and office phone line. But if you’re an interior designer and using your back room or garage to store valuable accessories for rich clients then you may not be covered in the event they suffer damage. Also, if a client injures themselves while visiting your home for business interests, then you could be sued. Business insurance may well be the answer.
If you’re at all confused at what your home insurance covers then it’s definitely worth a phone call to your provider – for peace of mind, at least. For more information on home insurance and what it entails, click here.