Home improvements leave insurance policies at risk
uSwitch study reveals that more than half of households with new extension work have not informed their insurer
Almost one third of homeowners risk invalidating their home insurance policies because they have failed to notify their insurer about recent home renovations.
The study – conducted by independent comparison and switching site, uSwitch – also reveals that 90% of homeowners have renovated their property over the past five years, with almost six in ten carrying out extension work such as loft conversions, new garages or extra bathrooms.
According to the research, one in ten homeowners decided to scale-up their property as they could not afford to move, with many shelling out an average of £15,000 on the renovations.
However, 30% of homeowners could face further problems with their insurer in the event that they need to make a claim.
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.
As a result, 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.
The research also reveals that consumers are failing to adequately protect their homes when the work is actually being carried out.
Four in ten did not take steps to arrange extra cover for accidental damage to possessions or the increased security risk of open walls or removing doors and windows to check whether their tradesman was certified, leaving themselves open to being short-changed.
In addition to this, seven in ten prefer to pay contractors in cash whenever possible – but with no paper trail, homeowners will be left exposed if the job is not completed as promised.
Personal finance expert, Michael Ossei says insurance is “often the last thing on your mind” when it comes to arranging home improvements but that informing your insurer was vital to staying protected.
“If you are extending your home you are likely to be increasing the rebuild cost – so you will you need to make sure this is updated with your insurer,” Mr Ossei said.
Non-standard insurance may also prove vital for homes that are renovated in a way that leaves them open to less than regular risks.
“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,” he added.