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When do I need renovations insurance?

To insurers a renovation usually suggests an extensive building project due to last several months.

When do I need renovations insurance?

When do I need renovations insurance?

This may mean that if you’re planning to decorate one room, for example with new wallpaper and carpet, it could be finished in less than a week, and probably wouldn’t require a specialist policy.

DIY, or decoration only carried out by a professional tradesperson, would be acceptable in most cases. As a few examples though, if hazardous materials are required to strip paint, specialist machinery is required to do the job, or if application of heat is required to install a new metal pipe, this may fall outside of the scope.

We therefore recommend that you always check with your insurance provider before you pick up your paintbrush, or before you allow any contractors on site. This allows you to find out in advance if the work is acceptable, and make alternative arrangements if not. For example even if you’re repurposing an old office or loft space into an additional bedroom, the cost and the scope of work may be low, but the number of bedrooms is a question you answer when getting quotations, and it’s a change your insurer needs to know about. It also adds value to your home, which may change the amount of cover you need.

It is also worth confirming with your current insurer that your cover is still appropriate following the changes, even if the work is acceptable.

What are renovations defined as?

The kind of projects that might need a more specialist insurance offering include:

  • A structural alternations to your property, such as extensions, loft conversions, and changing the internal layout of a property (i.e. adding or removing walls)
  • Extensive work that requires you to move out of the home
  • Roof replacement
  • Replacement of roof timbers, joints or joists
  • Large scale re-plumbing or re-wiring
  • Subsidence repairs or preventative measures, such as underpinning or piling
  • Any other change that requires planning permisson

If one or more of the above are part of your plans, your standard insurance policy may have very limited cover, or may not insure you at all. This is where renovation insurance starts to become useful.

Why is it more difficult to insure?

As the risk to the property increases, so does the challenge for insurers. Renovation work changes the risk profile both during the work and after, once the changes are completed.

The risk determines the premium the insurers charge, the terms and endorsements they apply, and any conditions they may ask you as the policyholder to stick to. Therefore the policy they would arrange for a more standard home being lived in may not be the most appropriate for a considerable amount of work.

For example, unoccupied properties are deemed to be of higher risk than one that is occupied every day, so the insurer may need to charge extra to accommodate for this.

Also if there are contractors working on site, or if you’re doing the work yourself, the insurer is unlikely to want to cover for any damage caused, or handle claims as a result of faulty workmanship.

As this is an extensive subject, we would highly recommend reading our property renovations guide for more information.

Does it provide more or less cover?

In short, that depends on your needs.

In some cases, the cover won’t be more extensive. This is because if you appoint contractors to do the work for you, they will usually have relevant insurance policies in place to cover for any damage that they are responsible for. In these instances the insurer accepts that the project is taking place, and is providing cover on this basis, accepting any additional risk that may come along with it.

In others, where perhaps the contractor does not have appropriate insurance in place for whatever reason, or if you’re project-managing the work yourself, then there may be further elements that you would be liable for. Specialist renovations policies can include these aspects for you, such as unfixed building materials you have paid for (such as a kitchen or bathroom suite that is waiting to be installed) or cover for unfinished extensions that may become damaged by an insured peril.

The cover you need will probably depend on the contract you have with your contractor. For more information on this, we have a link to information on JCT contracts and renovations insurance at the bottom of the page.

GSI Insurance Services (Southern) Ltd. have scoured the market to get the best options for unoccupied properties, properties undergoing renovations, and properties that are lived in, either by their owners, or by tenants. That puts us in the best possible position to find you the cover you need at the right price, no matter what your project entails. Give us a call on 0800 612 9376 or click “Get a Quote” to complete our online form.

Need some more information?

Why not read one of our other renovation insurance guides?

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