One of the clearest possible illustrations of why you need to make sure your property is adequately covered during any home renovations was given by a story that appeared in the Telegraph newspaper on the 8th of June 2016.
The story reported the sudden, total collapse of a terraced house in the London borough of Lewisham – possibly because of the demolition of internal walls during what was planned to be the renovation of the £700,000 “doer-upper”.
It was not reported whether or not the owners of the property in question had informed their insurers. If they had, the insurers might have increased the premiums normally associated with a home of that type and age, or the insurers might have declined to continue cover. One of the classic reasons for an insurer doing just that is where the renovations involve the removal of or alterations to internal or external walls – precisely the work that seems to have been involved in the reported collapse of the house in Lewisham.
The example helps to explain, therefore, why specialist renovation insurance is necessary. This is a niche product, about which we at GSI Insurance have published a special guide.
Particularly in the case of specialist cover such as renovation insurance, no two properties are likely to be the same. A feature of this kind of insurance is the extent to which it may be tailored to suit any particular situation or renovation project, whatever the age or type of building involved.
Nevertheless, there are a number of areas of cover around which most such policies are likely to revolve:
- cover for the existing building itself and loss or damage to its very structure and fabric – with a worst case scenario anticipating the need to completely rebuild it in the event of a total loss;
- cover for the renovations being made – those new or altered parts of the property which might be destroyed or damaged, or where reinstatement is required;
- public liability insurance – to indemnify you as the property owner who might be held responsible for injuries to or damage to the property of members of the public, including neighbours, passers-by and visitors to the building site; and
- unoccupied property insurance – if the building is to be left unoccupied during any phase of the renovation works.
When arranging any home renovations insurance, you need to be prepared to describe to the insurer exactly what works are involved, how long they might take from start to finish and the qualifications and experience of the contractors hire to carry out the works.
You may also need to advise your insurers of the estimated total cost of the works and whether you intend to be doing any of it yourself.
Finally, you might want to take into account the fact that practically any building work has a tendency to overshoot its scheduled completion date. To prepare yourself for any such eventuality, you might want to ensure that your home renovations insurance is sufficiently flexible to be extended for a further month or so.