Home improvements are a real risk

Homeowners who carry out improvements to their property without telling their insurers could find themselves in real trouble.

Happy couple doing DIY

Research has shown that almost half (41 per cent) of people who had work done on their property in the last five years had failed to tell their insurance company.

And Dave Williams, said such a move could lead to the insurers refusing to pay out if the homeowner needed to make a claim.

“The most popular improvements were adding a new bathroom (39 per cent), a new kitchen (38 percent), and installing a new boiler or central heating system (34 per cent). Other renovation projects included loft conversions, new garages, and the addition of an en suite bathroom.

“But by failing to inform their insurers, these homeowners left themselves potentially with no insurance cover at all during some heavy-duty building work – this is a risky approach and we would recommend homeowners steer well clear of putting themselves in such a dangerous position.”

Mr Williams said most buildings insurance policies were based on the structure of the house as it was when the policy was taken out.

“So, if you’re adding a new room or knocking through a wall, your actions could have a significant impact on your policy cover. And if you’re looking at extensive alterations such as an extension or a loft or garage conversion, many policies will become invalid altogether. Yet despite these facts, the survey showed only 17 per cent of homeowners checked their insurance policy and contacted their provider before any work began.”

He said given the tough economic climate, many families were choosing to extend their existing property rather than move house.

“If you’re planning large-scale alterations you may be caught up in the emotions and excitement of it all, and insurance will probably be the last thing on your mind. But extending your home will probably increase the rebuild cost and you may even need to buy specialist insurance if your property has been built in an unusual way, such as with a timber frame.

“Before you start any home improvements, no matter how small they may seem, remember to contact your insurer to double check how your project might affect your policy. Remember that your home insurance policy will probably not cover tradesmen or their work either, so check they have their own insurance in place before the work starts.”

  Dave Williams

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