Taking out the right home insurance policy is really important: in the unlikely event of something bad happening to your home – such as the recent Cumbria floods – you’ll want the peace of mind of knowing that you are properly covered.
Finding out that your insurance doesn’t cover you can be a devastating blow and it could mean that you can’t afford to repair the damage or replace lost items.
Not all home insurance is the same – many policies only provide cover for what they class as “standard” properties. There are also exclusions around where you live and even some about your personal circumstances. So, if you are shopping around for cover it’s important that you make sure that the policy you choose meets your needs.
What’s a standard property?
Think of an “ordinary” British home and it is likely you’ll image something with four brick walls and a tiled roof. That’s what most insurance companies class as “standard”. If your property doesn’t fit into that category, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get insurance – but you might need to find an insurer that covers your specific property type.
Now we’ll look at some reasons why your home might be “non-standard”.
Types of property likely to be “non-standard”
Those made with non-standard construction materials – as we said, a standard property is usually defined as brick built with a sloping tiled roof. So, if your home is made of anything different – for example; timber, wattle and daub, straw, concrete, fibreglass, glass, plastic, flint or steel, then it will almost certainly be non-standard. Similarly, if your roof is flat or made of something other than tiles – such as grass-roofed or corrugated iron – that would usually make it non-standard. Thatched roofs are also seen as non-standard because of the higher risk of fire damage.
Listed buildings – if your home is listed it can be difficult to find insurance cover. If your property is damaged, then repairs to listed buildings can be more expensive because you may be asked to carry out improvements using specific materials or in a certain way.
Holiday homes, holiday lets and properties that are unlived in - if you own a second home and leave it unoccupied for more than 30 days at a time, this may mean it won’t be covered by a standard home insurance policy. Similarly, if you take a long holiday (of more than 30 days) then your main home may not be covered. Remember too that if you let out a holiday home you are likely to need specialist insurance cover.
Properties you’re building yourself – if you are “self-building” – whether or not you are actually doing the work yourself, you’ll need specialist cover. In particular, you may need employer’s liability insurance which will cover you if a worker happens to get injured on site.
System-built properties - if your home is a system-built property (also known as prefabs), you may struggle to get adequate cover with a standard home insurance policy. These type of properties were built on mass after the First World War, up until around the early 1980s. As houses were in high demand, they were built very quickly, which means they were often built with timber, aluminium or steel frames – these are classed as non-standard construction materials.
High rise properties or homes above shops - in certain cases, living in an apartment in a block of flats or a high-rise property may mean you’ll have to shop around for a non-standard insurance deal. Similarly, homes above shops might cause issues. This is because living in such close proximity with others, or living above a business, puts you at an increased risk of fire damage – as the other homeowners living directly under or above you could inadvertently cause damage to more than one property.
That’s it for part one, next time we’ll explore how the location of your home and you personally can mean you need to apply for non-standard home insurance. Head here for part two.