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In an ideal world nothing would ever happen to your home. But pipes burst, storms blow trees over, and ground subsides. If any of those things happen to you, it pays to be covered.
That’s where buildings insurance comes in. You pay a premium to the insurer, and in return they’ll cover the cost of repairing unforeseeable damage to your home. It’s different to content insurance, which covers your possessions rather than the building.
What does buildings insurance cover?
Buildings insurance should cover every part of your home. That means fences, sheds, garages and conservatories will fall under your cover, as well as things like pipes and drains (with some exceptions – we’ll get to that in a moment).
Hopefully it never happens, but your insurance should also cover the full cost of rebuilding your home, from clearing the site to putting it back to together brick-by-brick.
All policies are different, but your insurer will generally cover you for damage caused by:
- Burst pipes
- Things that fall on your home, such as trees
- Ground subsidence
- Vehicle collisions
- Theft or vandalism
- Fire or explosions
- Flooding, earthquakes, and storms.
These are all things that you can’t control. But what about damage that you cause by accident?
Good news: you can often get extra cover for ‘accidental damage’. You’ll just have to pay for it as an add-on. It could cost anything from a little to a lot, but if you think your children are likely to kick a ball through the window or you’re prone to DIY mishaps, it might be worth it.
Is there anything I won’t be covered for?
As usual it depends on the small print, so check with your provider before signing anything. As a general rule, though, you won’t be covered for:
- Damage caused by animals (birds nesting your roof, for example)
- General wear and tear (all properties can expect a bit of this)
- Any damage caused by neglect
- External frost damage
- Poor workmanship (you might know them as ‘cowboy builders’)
- Storm damage to gates, fences and plants (that’s the exception we mentioned a couple of minutes ago)
- Damage caused by damp.
You might also not be covered if your house is empty for more than a certain period of time. If you’re going away for a while, it’s best to tell your insurer so you can check what you’re covered for while you’re away.
Help! I live in a flood risk area
It’s a common myth that if you live in a known flood zone you can’t get buildings insurance. Luckily this isn’t usually the case!
As long as the government is funding flood defence in your region, your insurer can’t refuse to cover your building. The insurance should also cover you for damage caused by flooding, just like everyone else.
However, you might end up paying more on your premium, simply because you’re at higher risk and it’s more likely they’ll have to pay out.
Do I really need buildings insurance?
Even if it wasn’t compulsory, it would be sensible to protect your home. After all, it’s a huge investment, nobody can see the future, and unexpected damage could wipe out both your savings and the value of your home.
But buildings insurance will also probably be a condition of your mortgage. Your lender might offer you their own insurance, but you’re free to shop around and choose someone else if you prefer – just be aware that, while they can’t choose your provider for you, your lender can also reject your choice if they don’t think it’s good enough.
If you’re in a leasehold property, the freeholder might already have chosen an insurer and pay them by collecting payments from you instead. If you’re a renting tenant, your landlord should have the buildings insurance, although you’ll probably want contents insurance just in case.
If you’re looking for buildings insurance, talk to your Scout broker about finding the cover that suits you.
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