Many people make the mistake of thinking that their home insurance policy will cover them for every eventuality. However, it can come as a nasty, and often rather costly, surprise to discover that some things simply aren’t covered.
The majority of policies will include financial protection against theft and loss, fire, flooding, storms and accidental damage. These are known as ‘definable events’, but there are also quite a number of exclusions. It is important that you read your policy document carefully so that you fully understand what is, and what isn’t covered.
Damp is one area that is not covered by a standard insurance policy. If damp appears in your home and it is not directly related to a major storm or flooding the cost of rectifying the damp problem will not be met by your insurance provider.
A similar problem to damp is that of leaking pipes. A problem more common in older properties, pipes can degrade and begin to leak over a period of time. Because leaking pipes are attributed to a lack of maintenance rather than a definable event insurers will not pay out for any leaking pipes in need of repair.
Problems that arise in your property that are down simply to wear and tear will not be covered by your insurance policy. An example of this is a roof that has degraded over the years as a natural result of age and weathering. Only a roof damaged by lightning or high winds would be covered under the terms of your policy.
Blocked drains are not usually covered under your policy as they are most often the result of inappropriate substances being put down sinks and toilets. However, there is an exception to this if the drains have been blocked as a result of subsidence or a landslip as this would be classed as being a definable event.
If you have a home contents policy then you will not be able to claim for items that break down due to a mechanical failure, for example, washing machines, cookers and televisions. Similarly, wear and tear on home furnishings such as sofas and chairs, and furniture are not covered, nor is damage directly related to poor workmanship.
If your gates, hedges and fences are damaged it is unlikely that your insurance provider will pay out. However, you may be able to make a claim for garden walls if the main building was also damaged at the same time.
When making a claim it is important that you notify your insurance company as soon as possible; if you leave it too late your claim may be invalidated. If you rent your home you should tell your landlord as soon as a problem arises as delays could mean that the owner of the property is unable to submit a claim. Inaccurate information provided when initially taking out your policy can also lead to problems further down the line, for example, omitting to mention that your home is situated on a flood plain.
Most home insurance policies will not cover damage associated with ‘earth movement’ which includes earthquakes or sinkholes. Sinkholes are gaps in the surface of the earth that happen after groundwater slowly dissolves rock, such as limestone, and fragments of the rock are carried away creating large holes and cracks in the bedrock. When large cavities form underground the land above these cavities may suddenly collapse or settle, which in turn creates a sinkhole.
Mold is another problem that is unlikely to be covered by your home insurance policy. An outbreak of mold on internal walls is unsightly and is also a risk to health causing allergic reactions and breathing difficulties.
There are around 1000 different species of mold, and although there are treatments available to eradicate mold the best cure is actually prevention. Properties should be well ventilated at all times, and spills due to minor flooding or leaking pipes should be dealt with promptly.
Termites can invade your home destroying vital supporting beams and other wood features such as staircases. Dead plant material, wood, and paper that are in contact with soil near to your property provide termites with easy access into your home and a regular food supply. In addition, moisture that is allowed to accumulate around foundations and in crawl spaces that are poorly ventilated provide termites with an essential water supply. Unfortunately, the majority of insurance policies do not cover termite infestation as it is seen as a problem that can be avoided with the correct maintenance procedure rather than a definable event.
Finally, standard insurance policies do not cover damage by acts of war or terrorist attacks. Fortunately, these events are comparatively rare but you may want to consider taking out additional terrorism insurance if you live in close proximity to major transport hubs or important buildings.
Many of us take out a home insurance policy and feel confident that our insurance provider will pay out in every eventuality. However, by paying careful attention to the small print in your insurance documents it becomes evident that this is in fact not the case and that there are actually a multitude of exclusions that could come as a nasty shock if the worst were to happen and you are forced to make a claim.