In a previous article – Why Should You Insure Your Home for Replacement rather Than Market Value – I mentioned that we’d touch on when it’s possible to claim under this type of insurance!
How was I to know that- barely two weeks later – I’d be forced into answering this very question by one of our clients?
The client literally had water seeping through the walls of her home caused by the rain that’s fallen all over the country in the past few weeks. She dropped us an email wanting to know whether she could claim under her homeowner’s insurance policy. We asked her to get a quote for the repair work, and at the same time ask the contractor to determine whether damage was something we could claim for or whether it was a maintenance issue. In her instance it sounds like she’s got a valid reason for claiming, but for many of us, claiming against a homeowner’s insurance policy represents a grey area fraught with ambiguity.
So, while this incident is still fresh in my mind, let’s address when it is – and when it isn’t – possible to claim against your buildings insurance.
First off…“what am I insured for under my homeowner’s policy?”
Insurance companies will only compensate you for damage caused by the so called ‘insured perils’.
These insured perils are:
- Lightning and thunderbolt
- Storm, wind, water, hail, or snow excluding loss or damage caused by 1) a process necessitating the application or use of water, 2) wear and tear or gradual deterioration.
- Impact by aircraft (or objects falling from them!), falling trees, animals, vehicles, aerials, and satellite dishes
- Bursting of water tanks or pipes
Other insured perils can also be included under your insurance cover (such as theft cover) while others have to be added at an additional cost (Subsidence and landslip cover springs to mind). This differs from insurer to insurer so make sure you understand the wording of your policy.
Most of these insured perils are fairly simple to understand.
The bad news…an aircraft hit your home? The good news… you have a valid claim.
The bad news…your house burnt down? The good news…you have a valid claim.
It’s when water causes the damage that confusion sets in. That’s where we need to distinguish between damage caused by poor maintenance and damage caused by one of the insured perils.
Water damage caused by a flood is beyond your control and therefore an insurable risk. A hail storm which causes your roof to sag and start leaking is an insurable risk. Rising damp caused by rusted gutters is a maintenance issue – not an insurance issue!
The key word to remember with insurance claims is…
That the cause of damage must be ‘immediate’ and not because of ‘gradual deterioration’
Once again it’s important that you read and understand the wording of your insurance policy…and if it all sounds a little confusing, speak to your broker.
There you have it then…a quick and easy guide on when you can – and when you can’t – claim against your insurance!
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Until next time.
The InsuranceFundi Team