1 in 3 insurance policies potentially invalid

Nia Williams

October 2, 2013

This is according to uSwitch.com which showed that nine in ten (90%) homeowners have renovated their homes over the past five years and almost six in ten (58%) of these have carried out extension work such as loft conversions, new garages or extra bathrooms. However consumers need to check they are protected if things go wrong as almost one third (30%) of consumers have insurance policies at risk of being invalid because they have failed to notify their home insurer about the work they have carried out.

Most buildings insurance policies are based on the structure of the house as it stands when the policy is taken out – so adding a new room or knocking through a load-bearing wall could significantly affect the terms of the cover. Many policies could become invalid when the house is significantly altered, such as after an extension, a loft or garage conversion or even adding a new bathroom.

Despite this, only 17% of homeowners check their insurance policy and contact their provider before work begins.

Michael Ossei, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, said: “We are a nation gripped by extension fever, with many people deciding to create more space in their existing home rather than move. But, with all the emotional and financial challenges of building work, home insurance is often the last thing on your mind. It’s absolutely vital to get in touch with your insurer before you start on any home improvement project to see how it will affect your policy.

“If you are extending your home you are likely to be increasing the rebuild cost – so you will need to make sure this is updated with your insurer. You might need to buy specialist insurance if your home has been built in an unusual way – such as if it has timber frames or another non-standard feature. Plus, if any external windows, doors or walls are removed during building work, you will be more vulnerable to burglaries, so you also need to make sure you are covered for this.”

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