With the clocks having gone back last weekend, the temperature dropping, the nights drawing and the festive season rapidly approaching it is easy to overlook something as straight forward as your home and contents insurance. The majority of people organise their home insurance when they buy their property, as if you have a mortgage on your property it is a requirement of your mortgage lender that you at very least have buildings insurance. Many people will source this on a Price Comparison site, and then simply allow their policy to renew each year. This will not take into account changes in their circumstances or requirements, be the best priced policy for them, nor offer an adequate level of protection for their home and contents.
You may have an investment property which could be vacant or left empty by your tenants over the festive period. It is always wise to ensure that your heating is left on, or the central heating system switched off and all pipework ‘drained down’ during the winter months. There are numerous reasons for domestic insurance claims, the most common of which are detailed below. The below diagram explains where recent UK insurance claims have come from. The percentage figures are based on the monetary value of claims made via insurers.
Weather – 25%: Typically the period of October to January is when the UK sees the most inclement weather. A mixture of storms and heavy rainfall in October and November, and usually the lowest temperatures during December and January. Falling trees damaging properties and possessions, high winds damaging roofs and water ingress are all common during this period.
Escape of Water – 21%: A leaking pipe can occur at any time of year, but around 15% are caused as a direct result of freezing weather conditions during the winter months. These can often occur over the festive period; particularly with people going away and turning down or switching off their central heating; potentially a ‘false economy’.
Fire – 13%: Over the last few years the number of house fires has reduced significantly, however the one type of fire; the chimney fire occurs in much greater numbers during the festive period. Around 46% of all house fires take place between 4pm and 10pm.
Theft – 13%: As with instances of fire, we have seen a steady decline in the number of burglaries in recent years but their is a seasonal trend, with burglary figures during December and January being more than 10% higher than the rest of the months of the year. Criminals take advantage of empty properties and are increasingly using ‘distraction techniques’ to steal from people’s homes.
Accidental Damage – 10%: Accidents happen in the home to all of us; some of the most common of these are ceilings being damaged by people in their loft, and children accidentally damaging appliances such as televisions. The festive season is a particularly high risk time for both of these instances. Just to warn you; most insurers will not cover damage caused by domestic pets, so you may want to think twice before getting that puppy for Christmas!
Did you know for example?
- Unspecified single items on your household insurance are capped at a maximum of £5,000 within your home. The limit for jewellery and collectables within the home is £2,000. This can vary and be significantly less.
- Items are only covered away from the home if you either add on unspecified personal possessions (UPP) cover or specified personal possessions (SPP) cover. UPP covers items up to £1,500 single article limit. SPP is for single items valued at more than this. There are a number of exceptions which can include; spectacles, mobile phones and bicycles.
- A basic policy only covers you for catastrophe events such as fire, flood or theft. If you want cover for general accidents within your home you need to add extended accidental damage to your policy.
- If you have a lodger your insurance could be invalid unless your insurer has approved this previously; and many do not without certain criteria being met.
Fortunately at One 77 Mortgages our highly knowledgeable protection team are able to provide advice and guidance on the right buildings and contents insurance products available to you for your circumstances, and we were in fact a finalist for ‘General Insurance Broker of the Year’ at this year’s British Mortgage Awards.
For example; we were able to save one recent customer over £100 a year, roughly 25% of their annual premium, on the renewal price they were offered despite adding SPP cover for a number of items with a combined value of over £13,500 to their existing cover;
“I was surprised to discover how complex buildings and contents is. I had assumed policies were ‘much of a muchness’ and sourced my previous policy online. When my renewal came in I thought I would see what a broker could source for me. After a brief conversation I was shocked to discover how little cover my previous policy actually provided. I was delighted with the service from the One 77 team and even happier when I discovered they had sourced me a more comprehensive policy which covered some pretty specialist valuable items outside of my home, which my previous policy did not, and despite this my annual premium was significantly lower.”