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Own a home? It might not be properly insured.

Three scenarios when your home might not be covered

Beach shack, barn, suburban bliss or living the penthouse dream – whatever type of home you own, you’d be forgiven for assuming that since you have home and contents insurance you’re covered if something goes wrong.

According to Brian Gilmour, a specialist in insurance for people over 50, things are more complicated than that.

Here he outlines three occasions where your usual cover might not cover you at all.

Renovating? You may need contract works insurance

Whether it’s a DIY job or you’re hiring a professional, if you’re wanting to get your ‘Block’ on and renovate your home it’s important you first understand what’s covered in your insurance and what’s not.

Here’s what to check:

  • What are you covered for before you start? Note any firm exclusions in your existing policy – some small jobs might be covered by your standard home and contents insurance, but there may be limits.
  • Contact your insurance company if you’re planning to make structural changes, move load-bearing walls, or do anything with your roof. They’ll be able to advise whether your existing insurance covers you, or if you need something extra. How much more it will cost all depends on how grand your plans are.
  • Find out if your policy covers items such as asbestos and its removal.
  • Do your tradespeople have public liability insurance so that any faults or issues caused by their work are covered? Faulty workmanship can catch up with you – and add up!
  • Are you covered if you’re hurt on-site?

Once you’re all done and that last lick of paint has dried, make one more call to your insurer to increase your sum insured if the value of your home has changed with the new additions or enhancements.

Unlawful substances

If you rent your home out, there’s always the risk that your seemingly perfect tenants aren’t as squeaky-clean as you think. If they’re using unlawful substances like P, some insurers may cover you for damage and others won’t, so check the policy wording carefully! If your home is in an area with high drug-usage, or you just want extra protection, it’s a good idea to take out extra cover. Here are other things you should consider:

  • Your policy may cover things like testing, contamination and repairs if your tenants use, store or even manufacture illegal substances.
  • You might not be covered for any incidents that occurred before your policy started or after it ends.
  • Check for limits of damage, including those for fire and explosions.
  • If anything happens you’ll probably have to file a police report before you can expect to be paid out.

Listing with Air BnB and other accommodation websites

The lure of a side income is almost too much to resist these days, and there’s no shortage of bach or investment properties on offer. But inviting strangers into your home increases the risk of damage – and it may void some or all of your insurance.

There are a few things you can do to protect your home and keep your investment safe:

  • Let your insurance company know you aren’t living in the home so they can cover you properly.
  • Keep the home secure – this may be a condition of cover and includes obvious things like locking windows and doors, installing smoke alarms, garden maintenance and regular inspections.
  • Check to see what excess applies if your property is damaged by paying guests – it may be worth taking out a different type of cover altogether. You could also check if host cover is offered by the website provided, in addition to your personal insurance.
  • If you’re part of a body corporate, check whether you’re legally allowed to rent your home. Going against the rules might void your insurance.
  • Ask about vehicle cover – boats, cars, caravans, scooters and watercraft kept at the property will probably need separate cover.
  • Animals – if you leave domestic animals to be cared for as part of the rental agreement, check that any damage they cause is covered.
  • Accidents happen – if a guest is hurt, you may be liable. Check to see if your insurance covers you for these instances.

Make smart choices for your home

While house and contents insurance cover most eventualities, there are times when you need to do more homework. The best idea is to check that you’re covered before letting out your property, listing it on short-term rental sites or breaking into that renovation plan. If sifting through policy wordings doesn’t sound like your idea of a fun evening, help is at hand. Experts like Brian can help you translate the legalese – and he’s free.

Get in touch with Brian Gilmour today – and get make sure your home is covered, no matter what.