Read the small print
There are many different kinds of packages you can purchase with house insurance. It can cover theft, fire and even personal liability – if, for example, you damage someone else’s property and they sue you. There are many risks, but you are not automatically covered for all eventualities. Check the policy wording and be clear on what exactly you are covered for and whether it is adequate for your situation.
You should estimate how much your house contents are worth before you get an insurance policy. If you claim for a household item under an ‘Old for New’ policy, you need to ensure you have valued that item at its replacement value, not its actual value.
Home away from home
If you are going to university and studying away from home, than check your parents house insurance – you could find it covers your possessions on campus too.
Your possessions could fall under the ‘valuables and portable possessions’ in their premium but always check exactly what it does and doesn’t cover. There are insurers who provide cover specifically for students.
If you have expensive items such as mountain bikes, computer equipment or family heirlooms and antiques, it is worth checking if you need to insure them separately. This depends on any limitations and upper limit pay-outs on your premium.
Be secure – reduce the risk
If you have a house alarm, lockable windows, smoke detectors or any other security features make sure your insurers know about this before you buy your policy. If your house is at a lower risk, you could use this to negotiate a lower price. Keep in mind that some insurance companies will require that your house meets a certain standard of security, sometimes called the ‘minimum security condition’. Check your policy to ensure you are meeting your end of the insurance agreement.
If you don’t take ‘reasonable care’ of your possessions than your claim may be refused. Insurers expect you not to leave valuable items outside, or in unlocked premises.
Make a list
You should make a list of your possessions and estimate their value. Remember the value of some objects can increase over time – especially collectables – so regularly review this list so you can update your house insurance policy appropriately.
Getting the best deal
As with anything you are planning to buy, you should shop around, but don’t just opt for the cheapest option – this could be a false economy if you don’t get out the full cover you actually need. It’s a competitive market and provided that you are not tied in to your mortgage lender you are free to shop around for the best deals in house insurance.
Keep it real
Don’t lie! If you do, this will make your house insurance policy invalid if it came to making a claim.
If you are a victim of theft, you should report it immediately to the police. They will give you a ‘crime number’ which you will need for your insurance claim.