What follows is a sponsored article from Money Supermarket
Often considered the biggest financial asset which we can obtain throughout our lives, our homes are sometimes taken for granted. Roughly five million homes are not covered by home insurance, despite the widespread availability of the product within the UK’s diverse insurance market, and ignorance could be partly to blame for this – so what don’t you know about home insurance in the UK?
1. You don’t want to live at number 243
Statistically these houses (and not those numbered 13 as might be expected) are the unluckiest in the UK with homeowners twice as likely to make a claim as anyone else. According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, 45% of people living at number 243 made a claim between 2008 and 2011.
2. There is more than one type
With the biggest insurance industry in Europe, it is understood that Brits can sometimes get confused over the number of different policies and types of insurance which are offered. Home insurance can be split into numerous types and there are plenty of variables for homeowners to consider when choosing their level of cover.
As a general rule, there are three main types of home insurance for you to choose from: contents insurance, buildings insurance and comprehensive home insurance. The former will only cover the personal possessions within your home whilst buildings insurance provides financial protection for the physical structure. Comprehensive home insurance combines the two products together to offer the highest level of cover.
3. Insurance claims are expected to rise in 2012
Due to the large number of events that are scheduled in the UK for the coming year, house insurance claims are expected to grow as Brits either leave their homes vacant to attend parties or host their own celebrations. Either situation places your home at risk and that means those five million homeowners without insurance could be facing expensive bills this summer.
4. Burglaries are prolific
Protecting your home from harm doesn’t just involve safeguarding it from natural disasters and accidents; you need to take preventative measures against burglars too. Burglaries are surprisingly common these days, with one occurring every 37 seconds and one fifth of homes experiencing more than one of these events each year.
These statistics are made even more shocking when you realise that property is stolen in 40% of burglaries yet only half of victims have their contents fully protected with insurance.
5. Automatic renewals waste money
An average saving of £125 can be made on annual home insurance costs simply by visiting home insurance comparison sites and choosing a better deal. In total, automatic renewals cost UK citizens more than £600 million a year and that means that something as simple as filling out an online form can save you a significant amount of cash.
It’s an astounding fact, but almost 7 million mortgages in Britain are not protected by life insurance. This equates to an unprotected value of about £245 billion according to research conducted by Sainsbury’s Finance.
4 in 10 British mortgagees without life insurance have an average outstanding mortgage balance of £36,000. The more worrying figure is that almost 40% of 25-34 year olds and almost one third of 35-54 year olds don’t have their mortgage payments protected. If these homeowners were to die, their dependents would be left holding onto the finances. With job cuts and redundancies happening all over the country, it’s never been more important to protect your property.
Helen Williams, head of Sainsbury’s life insurance, says: “Mortgage repayments are one of the biggest financial commitments in many peoples’ lives but, as our research shows, unfortunately it is not something that enough mortgage holders have taken steps to protect.
“There could be many reasons for this, perhaps some may feel it is less of a priority than other items on their household budget however, being unprotected could have serious implications.”
Life insurance is a necessity to any homeowner and it actually costs less than many think. If the worst were to happen such as redundancy, long-term sickness or death, all mortgage repayments would be taken care of. Some policies start from as little as £5 a month and it’s worth shopping around for the best deal. Before taking out life insurance you should also read the small print to make sure that redundancy and sickness are covered. These periods are often only covered for short periods of time so it’s good to know your options.
When taking out a life insurance policy you should always do so with care. Make sure that you are honest about any pre-existing conditions and that you give accurate details of your medical history and habits. Anything you don’t disclose now or lie about will usually invalidate any claim made by you or your dependents.
Many people choose not to take out life insurance because they think it’s a unnecessary expense or because it ‘won’t happen to them’. If you can afford a small premium each month to protect your home and those in it, it’s probably the best security you can give yourself and your dependents for the future.
If you’re confused about your household locks then it could invalidate your insurance if you give your insurer the wrong information. It’s important when moving into a new home or renewing your insurance that you give your insurer valid and accurate information and that means knowing the locks on your external doors.
So, can you tell the difference between a multi-locking system and a mortice deadlock? If your insurer were to ask what front door lock you have, could you answer them correctly? Many people often take a wild guess when it comes to these questions and this could prove catastrophic if you ever need to make a claim. Many homeowners don’t realise just how important it is to furnish insurers with the right information.
Insurers need to know how well your home is protected so they can work out the most suitable cover for you. That doesn’t mean you have to learn all there is to know about locks or turn your home into Fort Knox, but it does mean your insurer will be more likely to pay out if they are happy that your home was adequately secured at the time of a burglary.
The Metropolitan Police security guidelines advise that: “The door should be fitted preferably with a five-lever mortice deadlock, though insurance companies will accept a rim automatic deadlock; both must be to British Standard 3621.”
If you’re having trouble telling your mortice deadlocks from your key-operated multi-locking system you’re not alone! Many insurance companies are now helping customers by including images of the most popular types of locks on their website. These illustrations are available during the quote process and give you a good indication of the lock you have and whether it is at an acceptable level of security for the insurer to consider your application.
Head of home insurance at Confused.com, Mark Gabriel, says: “People often don’t realise how important it is to know their lock type, in fact a lot of people guess and get it wrong.
“But it’s so important to get right. Some are more secure than others, so if you’ve given your insurance provider the wrong information you might be underinsured, which could invalidate your policy. “It’s a detail many people overlook so this new picture system just clears up any confusion.”
As well as locks, the Met security guidelines go further, saying: “Quality locks are only as strong as the doors and frames to which they are attached. Ensure that the frame is sound and the door suitable for external use; for instance, a wooden hollow core door would not be suitable.”
To get an insurance quote or advice concerning your needs please complete the form below, clearly stating your requirement in the title.
Could you be saving money on your home insurance premiums? The answer is usually, yes! Home insurance premiums have risen over recent years, but with a little organisation and know-how you can reduce these premiums dramatically.
The first thing you need to do is shop around for other deals. This will give you an idea of what you would be paying on a like for like policy. If you have been with your current insurer for a long time, it’s always good to shop around. Loyalty doesn’t count for much in the insurance game and most insurers will offer the best deals to new customers. Renewing your policy with another company could save you money automatically.
Did you know that insurers may have had bad experience with your post code whilst others may not? Shopping around really does pay and you’ll be amazed at the difference in insurance premiums between companies.
Increasing Your Excess
If you can afford to pay a higher excess on any claims you can usually get a discount from your insurer although you must always remember you will need to cover a higher excess cost in the event of any claim.
Try Not to Over Insure
This is a mistake that many people make. Try to give an accurate total of the value of your home contents. Guesstimating could mean you are paying higher contents insurance payments. This also applies to buildings insurance – you need only insure for the cost of rebuilding your property.
Don’t Use Your Mortgage Provider
When you take out a mortgage, your lender will no doubt try to sell you their own contents and buildings insurance. Don’t take it! Unless there is a specific tie-in with your mortgage, you are not obliged to take their insurance and you can always get a better quote elsewhere.
Separate or Combined Insurance?
Taking combined contents and buildings insurance can usually net you a good deal. However, it can also pay to shop around for separate policies too so use one of the many insurance comparison websites to see what is right for you and your situation.
Paying Up Front
Sometimes it’s much cheaper to pay your insurance off in one lump sum each year rather than monthly instalments so get a quote for both.
The State of Your Home
This is a big one and will determine how much you will be paying each month. Making a few improvements to safety and security around the home could reduce your premiums significantly. Fire-proofing your home with smoke alarms and fire extinguishers is one way to do this. You should also fit secure locks to doors and windows and install a burglar alarm. The installation of a safe and membership of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme can also reduce your monthly payments so it’s worth asking your insurance company about this during the application process.
Many home insurance companies will give you good guidance when it comes to reducing your premiums. After all, a safe and secure home will be less prone to theft or damage and therefore represents a good prospect for the insurer. Shopping around, making a few slight adjustments inside your home and assessing the value of contents and your home correctly will ensure you get a good deal.
To get an insurance quote or advice concerning your needs please complete the form below, clearly stating your requirement in the title.
Home Insurance and Open Windows
Home insurance protects your home and contents against theft or loss. If you leave a window open, however, you could put your valuables at unnecessary risk, and your claim for theft or loss might not be valid.
Home insurance can protect your valuables, including jewellery, ornaments, precious collectables, antiques and electrical goods against theft or loss. Your home insurance provider will usually offer standard or specialist home insurance depending on the level of cover you require and the value of goods you would like to insure.
Whilst your valuables, personal belongings and your home should be protected by home insurance, however you should also take steps to protect your home yourself. Leaving a window open, for example, is an easy invitation for an opportunist thief to access your house and your belongings.
In hot weather you may have several windows open at once to create a through breeze. Perhaps you might have windows open at both the front and back of the house, or even patio doors open to enjoy the summer weather. It is easy to forget that whilst you and your family use windows and doors to enjoy the house, a thief could use them to gain unauthorised entry.
The BBC reports that a third of burglars gain access through a back window, and only a very small open window is needed to make life easy for a would-be thief. If your window is above a flat roof, then it could make illegal access even easier into your home. You should therefore be vigilant about securing all windows in your home.
When you leave your home or if you will be out of a room for an extended period of time, you should always close and lock your windows. You should also store keys for the window out of sight from the outside. If possible, it is also recommended to avoid having furniture near an accessible window which could make it easier for a thief to step in and out of your house.
Crimestoppers reports that between April 2010 and March 2011, over £3 million worth of stolen goods were recovered in the UK. This figure demonstrates how expensive theft and burglary can be for homes in the UK if they are not sufficiently secured.
To protect yourself and your family, you should consider taking out home insurance and also taking necessary steps to secure the windows of your home.
Do you have an idea of how much your property is worth?
It is an important and often misunderstood question. Many people assume that they can find the value of their property rather easily, by checking on the value of houses for sale in their local area. While this may give you a rough estimate of what your house could be worth, it is worth remembering that there can be large discrepancies in house prices, even within the same area or even along the same street.
Knowing what your property is worth is important. Many financial institutions will often use the value of the property as the basis for how much money they are willing to lend you. You also need to know the value of your property when it comes to renewing your home insurance. It is worth remembering that home insurance comes in two parts; contents insurance which covers your personal belongings and items that are not physically part of your home and buildings insurance. Buildings insurance can be the bigger challenge as you need to know the value of your home accurately and roughly how much it would cost to rebuild it at current market prices.
So what indicators can you find around your home that may well add, or detract, value from its overall price?
1. Extensions or conversions: If you have extended your home by adding additional rooms, or a conservatory, or perhaps have had the loft converted into a living space, this can add considerable value to your property compared to others in the area. Smaller changes in the home, such as changing a small room from a bedroom into another bathroom can also affect house prices and not always positively.
2. Garden area: In many areas, the amount of gardens the properties have is not always uniform. Obviously, those with larger gardens and more land tend to sell for a tad more than those with less. In addition, how that land is used, whether it is manicured gardens, wild grass or paved to allow for off road parking, can impact on the overall value of your home.
3. Security: The level of security your home has will also affect its value. If your property comes complete with deadbolts on main doors, double-glazed windows with individual window locks and is fully alarmed then it will be worth more than others that do not have these improvements.
4. State of repair: The general state of repair of your home also reflects its value greatly. This can easily be demonstrated by watching any of the TV shows that deal with housing developers who buy run-down properties, renovate them and then sell them on, often at significant profit. The better shape your house is in and the less work that needs completing on it, then the more it will be worth.
5. Issues: If your home has problems, such as damp or subsidence for example, then this can significantly affect the amount your home will realistically be worth.
6. Other buildings: If your property is large enough to include other buildings, such as a shed in the garden or other outbuildings, then this can increase the value of the property markedly too. How much this is depends very much on the location of the buildings, their state of repair and their functionality.
Understanding what your home is accurately valued at is a key issue for homeowners, whether you are seeking additional finance or trying to ensure that you have adequate home insurance cover, finding the realistic value of your property is a crucial step in securing the deal you want.