Most people who own a property, whether it’s their home or a business premises, have building insurance for it. In fact, it’s normally compulsory if you have a mortgage on the building — otherwise, it’s just overwhelmingly sensible.
A normal building insurance policy covers a wide range of mishaps. Accidental damage is the most common insurance claim, but others are frequently found. Here are the top five:
- Accidental Damage — this could be anything from the kids kicking a football through the window to cracking the wash-basin by dropping something into it.
- Weather Damage — extreme weather can damage your property either directly, such as a storm blowing off tiles, or indirectly, such as a tree being blown onto your roof.
- Water Escaping — the most common reason for this is pipes being allowed to freeze and burst.
- Burglary — a break-in doesn’t only affect the stolen possessions, you may also need to claim to repair a smashed window or replace a door.
- Malicious Damage — this may occur during a burglary, but you could also find yourself the victim of vandalism.
Prevention Is Better than Cure
Most building insurance policies allow you to claim for all these and more, from fire damage to the effects of freezing weather. However, the insurance company’s Loss Adjuster will be on the look-out for any negligence on your part that may invalidate your claim. The best solution is to give no reason for this, and here are few of the most common examples:
- Improving the standard of your locks and installing a burglar alarm can significantly reduce the risk of being burgled, but if it does happen the Loss Adjuster would find it difficult to turn down your claim.
- If you have a chimney, it’s vital to keep it swept. This will reduce the risk of fire, as well as satisfying your insurer.
- Leaving your gutters blocked with dirt or leaves can cause water damage and could leave you at risk of your claim being rejected.
- Freezing weather can cause a range of problems, from structural damage to burst water pipes. These may be covered by your building insurance, but it’s far better to prepare before the weather turns cold.
You can claim for many things on your building insurance, but it’s even better to reduce your chances of needing to claim. And, in any case, your precautions mean the Loss Adjuster will have no ammunition for rejecting your claim.
Most insurance claims are straightforward. If you’ve had a fire, your home’s been flooded or your roof has been blown off, there shouldn’t be a problem claiming — although the company’s Loss Adjuster may still find a flaw in your claim.
Sometimes, though, an insurance claim can be a lot more complex. You could find yourself having to seek legal advice, or even pursuing or defending a civil action.
This is a problem, since solicitors don’t come cheap. If you have legal expenses cover as part of your insurance policy, though, both legal advice and costs in a civil case would be covered.
How Does Legal Expenses Cover Protect You?
Having legal expenses cover can protect you against legal expenses in a wide range of situations, including:
- Personal injury or death — If someone is claiming compensation for an injury sustained on your property, your legal expenses will usually be covered up to a specified amount.
- Purchase or sale of property — You’re protected against expenses from contractual disputes during the sale of a property — with an estate agent or removal company, for instance.
- Property disputes — The costs of a dispute over boundaries, noisy neighbours, damage to property and similar causes will be covered.
- Consumer disputes — If you buy, sell or hire goods in your home, your expenses for disputes are covered.
- Employment disputes — Legal expenses cover can pay the costs for an employment dispute, such as unfair dismissal, involving a tribunal.
- Tax investigation — You can claim legal costs involved with HMRC investigating your tax affairs.
Legal expenses cover may already be included in your home insurance policy, but if you don’t know it’s there you could lose out. On the other hand, if you find your policy doesn’t include it, perhaps it’s time to rethink your home insurance cover.
In some circumstances, a normal home insurance policy may not be enough to cover your property. Reasons for this might include a history of flooding or subsidence, or that you’ve been declared bankrupt at some point.
These are defined as a non-standard risk, and the company’s Loss Adjuster may refuse your insurance claim if you only have a standard policy.
Examples of Non-Standard Risk
- Properties with a history of flooding or in areas affected by extreme weather. You can get help from the government’s Flood Re scheme.
- Properties that have been monitored for subsidence, landslip or heave, or had their foundations underpinned or reinforced.
- If your home is used as a business property, as opposed to informal working from home.
- If your home is going to be left unoccupied for a long period — usually over 30 days, but it’s important to check this.
- If any occupant has ever been declared bankrupt, has unspent or pending criminal convictions, or has ever been refused insurance or had terms imposed.
- A property whose roof is made of materials including asbestos, corrugated iron, felt on timber, fibreglass, glass, metal, plastic, shingle or thatch.
- A property whose exterior walls are made from materials including timber, asbestos, metal, fibreglass, glass, plastic or prefabricated materials. If any part of your property is built from less usual materials, check with your insurance company.
Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list. Always make sure you check your policy carefully and declare any circumstance which could be relevant, or the Loss Adjuster might turn you down if you need to make an insurance claim.