Are you getting ready for a spring clean? This time of year comes around and we all feel ready for a change. But what if you’re more in the mood for a revamp than a clean-up? Many of us dream of more space and an extension could be a good way to spread out without having to move house.
However, if you’re planning on building an extension or carrying out any sort of building work, make sure you keep your insurer in the loop. Your home insurance could be invalidated if they’re not made aware of changes.
There will be providers who will take on the additional risk, but usually at a premium. The more dramatic the work the less the insurer will be keen on taking on the risk. Each insurer is different though so make sure you have a chat and check the T&Cs of your existing policy.
Is this kind of thing common?
We don’t believe this is a common occurrence but we think it’s important that you’re aware. If you’re adding an extension, you would expect to start paying a higher premium – most extensions increase the value of your home, so it would cost more to insure it. Unless there was a serious problem with the extension itself, it wouldn’t normally make your home uninsurable! If you’ve got the planning permission, and all the works were carried out correctly, you should be fine.
How can I make sure this doesn’t happen to me?
Well, the key to maintaining any relationship is communication – and your relationship with your insurance provider is no different. You should include them at the planning stages, and let them know well before you make any substantial changes to your home. This includes additions, renovations and even substantial maintenance projects. You may even need to ensure that your contractor is also covered.
This is because properties that are undergoing building work can be considered more risky to insurers. They’ll want to know if the number of bedrooms and bathrooms is changing, particularly bathrooms as escape of water is a major cause of damage. They will also need to know if there are changes to security features like locks on windows and doors – this could help to reduce your premium as you could lower the risk of a break-in.
There might be circumstances where your insurer could no longer cover you, but at least if you keep them in the loop you would know about it well in advance. You’ll want to find an alternative provider before you lose your cover.
In fact, most home owners among us would benefit from reassessing our insurance cover from time to time, even if you’re not making any big changes. The value of your home may have changed over time for a number of reasons, and you might discover that you are no longer insured for its full value. Equally, you might find that you are paying too much if something has caused its value to decrease. So make sure you compare insurers and see if switching could help save you money.
The Association of British Insurers published a guide called Common questions About Home Insurance which goes a long way towards explaining what you can expect from insurers in general, but your best resource is your own insurance company. If you aren’t sure, ask them – you don’t want to be left without cover.