Be Assured … and Insured

Rupert Smith of Complete RPI gives a full overview of insuring your UK property

I own a flat/apartment: Do I need to arrange buildings insurance?

If you own an apartment or flat that is part of a bigger building, you should ensure the owners of the freehold have adequate buildings insurance in place and that this covers your property. After all, damage to the infrastructure of the building may have an impact on your property or could even destroy it. If you are not satisfied, you can always take out extra cover. If, on the other hand, you rent a property, it is normally the responsibility of the owners of the freehold or their managing agents to arrange insurance cover.

My property is rented to tenants: do I need buildings insurance?

It is important to insure the premises irrespective of whether you personally are living there. If you do have tenants, you should consult with your insurance company to make sure your policy covers properties that are rented.

My property is currently unoccupied: do I need buildings insurance?

It is still important to insure a property that is lying empty. However, it can sometimes be slightly more difficult to obtain the cover. The premiums may be higher for the period that the building is empty.

Can I change my policy after I have taken it out?

You can elect to change your buildings insurance policy as often as you like, although you should make sure that your property remains properly insured during the change over period from one insurer to another.

What should I think about when choosing a policy?

Compare the cover offered by various policies and see what is most suitable for your needs. Importantly, look for any restrictions within the policy, for instance on flood cover or accidental damage. Also, check for discounts on higher excesses and annual premium payment.

What is contents insurance?

Contents insurance covers the ‘material possessions’ in your home, for example, a stereo or iPod, clothes, curtains, carpets and furniture. In most policies, the cover extends to areas outside the main property, such as a greenhouse, conservatory or garage. However, more expensive items, usually of £1,000 plus - an expensive computer or jewellery, for example - may have to be insured separately as the majority of policies have limits on payouts.

As a policyholder, you will normally be covered if your possessions are stolen, or damaged, for instance, by fire, flood, burst pipes, boilers or storms. However, most policies do NOT cover such things as general wear and tear and, unless they offer additional accident cover, spilled paint on a carpet.

The important thing is to understand that every policy is different, to always read the small print for exclusions and to shop around for the best cover and price. If you are unsure about anything, always speak to an experienced and independent broker.

How much contents insurance do I need?

The best way to work this out is to methodically walk around your home with a pen and paper - not forgetting attics and outhouses - and write down all the items in it. For specific items, such as antiques, it may also be worth taking a photo, which could prove useful in the event of a claim. Once you have done this, simply add it all up and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the cover you will need.

What’s a combined building and contents policy?

Combines policies covers both buildings and contents, and insurers often sell them at a discount in order to make them more attractive. But it can still be cheaper to buy separate policies on the open market.

I do hope you found the article of interest and should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me direct.

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