If you are accustomed to keeping your home or let property adequately insured against the many perils it may face, you may also want to look more closely at what happens to that cover during the course of any renovations.
Property insurers – just like any other insurers – are principally concerned about the assessment of risk. In the case of property undergoing renovation, the risks covered under standard home insurance or landlord’s insurance may be wider in scope and more damaging in their consequences.
If you are planning any kind of renovation, therefore, you might want to inform your existing insurers of the fact as soon as possible. The risks are likely to be assessed according to whether the renovations are relatively minor or more drastic:
- painting, decorating and simple improvements such as a fitted bathroom or kitchen, for example, may be regarded by your insurer as incurring no major additional risk and the cover continues as normal;
- if you are building an extension, however, the website Homebuilding & Renovating points out that many standard insurance policies specifically exclude loss or damage arising from these works or cover for the extension itself – to meet the gap left by such an exclusion, you might want to consider renovations insurance;
- if major building works are planned, and especially if the property is going to be uninhabitable whist work is in progress, your current insurer may no longer be prepared to cover the risk and in that instance, you might want to give even more serious consideration to the need for renovations insurance – such as the cover we arrange here at GSI Insurance.
One of the major problems addressed by renovations insurance is the question of the property being unoccupied during the building works. The Financial Ombudsman Service reports that properties deemed to be unoccupied during refurbishment or renovations are the subject of many of the complaints with which it has to deal.
The Ombudsman points out that in several areas of legislation, legal definitions include those occasions when an individual may be “occupying” a property without being physically present.
Insurers, on the other hand, typically take the quite opposite view and regard a property as being unoccupied if no one is actually living there for more than between 30 and 45 consecutive days (the exact period varying from one insurer to another). As far as insurers are concerned, the property is unoccupied even if there is someone working there for the best part of practically every day and the owners continue to visit on a very regular basis.
Renovations insurance may also be needed to safeguard the physical works in progress against loss or damage as well as the existing structure and fabric of the building.
It may also extend to building materials you own and any plant and equipment for which you are responsible – items that may cost many thousands of pounds to replace in the event of their theft, loss or damage.
Finally, you may also welcome the additional security and peace of mind in knowing that your liabilities as a property owner and indemnity against claims from members of the public – or indeed the very contractors you may be employing – are also covered by this type of insurance.
Further reading: Guide to Property Renovation