What Purchases You Need to Tell Your Home Insurer About
Purchases That Affect The Value of Your Home’s Contents
It’s unlikely that your home and its contents’ value will stay exactly the same from when you first moved in to the present day. What many people often forget is that they need to update their insurance policy to include new purchases.
While a few DVDs or books here and there aren’t going to make a big difference, buying new pieces of furniture or undertaking a DIY project could change the value of your home or what’s inside it. In this instance, you need to alert your insurance provider of such changes.
In our handy guide, we tell you more about what contents and buildings insurance cover, so you’re clear on what kinds of changes and purchases you need to tell your provider about. We also cover whether you need to keep receipts and proof of purchases for some items and how soon you can claim on your insurance.
Contents Insurance Vs Home Buildings Insurance
Firstly, the two types of insurance that you should have when you own a house are contents and buildings insurance. These will generally be included in one overarching home insurance policy, so you don’t have to take out cover separately.
What is contents insurance?
Contents insurance is important because it covers the value of the items inside your home should they be lost or stolen, or should damage occur. When this is the case, your insurance policy will ensure that you are covered for the value of the items so they can be replaced at no cost to you.
When you take out a policy, you’ll be asked for an approximate value of all the belongings in your home. While this doesn’t need to be exact (as our homes usually contain thousands of items), it’s important that you take the time to work out a fairly close estimated value. Should you undervalue the items in your home, you may not be covered for the full amount should you need to claim on your insurance. If you overestimate the items, you could be overpaying for your home insurance.
Need help calculating the value of the items in your home? Use our guide to estimating your home contents’ value.
As you purchase more items the longer you live in the property, the total value of your belongings could change, so it’s important to update your insurance policy each year with the new estimated value.
For any high-value items over the price of €1,500 (though this figure can vary from provider to provider), you may need to list them separately. These items can include electronics, bicycles or jewellery.
What is home buildings insurance?
While contents insurance covers the items inside your home, buildings insurance protects the physical building itself. You will likely have been required to take this insurance out as a minimum when you bought the property, as mortgage providers like you to have it in place at the time of purchase.
Should your home, including the walls or roof, be damaged, the insurance will cover the cost of repairing the damage. When you take out a policy, you will need to be covered for the full value of the home, in case the entire thing has to be rebuilt after an accident.
It’s essential that you update your provider should the value of your home change. For example, if you add an extra bedroom, update the kitchen or build a conservatory, your house could go up in value, and your policy would need to be altered to reflect this.
Should I keep my receipts & proof of purchase?
Now we’ve established why it’s important to keep the value of your home and its contents up to date, the question is, should you keep receipts and proof of purchases for new items you buy?
Each provider may have slightly different rules around what they need should you want to make a claim. You likely don’t have a receipt for every item in your home, and many of your belongings may have been gifted or paid for in cash.
When you make a claim, the insurer may ask for a receipt, however if you don’t have this, what else can you provide instead?
Insurers will usually accept:
- Photographs of the item before it was lost/damaged to prove you owned it
- A bank statement that shows the purchase amount and when it was made
- A confirmation email from the retailer
- A warranty or guarantee, even if they’re no longer in date
- Proof of value (e.g. if you had a piece of jewellery valued in the past)
If you cannot find the exact value or cost of the item, then the insurer might compensate you with an average cost instead.
Should your insurance provider reject your claim on the basis of no proof of purchase/ownership, you may be able to seek advice from the Irish Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman. They will be able to investigate your claim and may help you to get the compensation for your belongings.
In the future, you could hold onto any receipts, particularly for expensive purchases such as appliances, electronics or jewellery, as you never know when you might need them. Have you got expensive items that you don’t have receipts for, such as family heirlooms or artwork in your possession? You may consider having these valued so the proof of value can be used should you need to make a claim. You can also take photos of such items as proof of ownership.
What can invalidate home insurance?
Invalid home insurance can be a massive blow. When you come to make a claim, you realise that your insurance has been invalidated, and this means you could no longer get compensation for the cost of repairs or replacing the items.
There are a few common mistakes that homeowners make that can invalidate their insurance. So to make sure this doesn’t happen to you, read on to find out what sorts of things this includes.
- Neglecting to tell your provider of big changes to the property
Making minor changes, like putting up some shelves or re-turfing the lawn, aren’t going to make a difference to the value of your home, but bigger changes should be recorded on your home insurance policy. These could include:
- Having solar panels fitted
- Knocking a wall down
- Installing double-glazing
- Building an extension
- Converting a loft
- Adding a garden office or other outbuilding
With any of these changes, your home could cost more, and so your insurer would need to pay out more should damage occur.
- Exaggerating the value of your home, or the items in it
By exaggerating the cost of the belongings in your home, or the value of your home itself, you’re committing insurance fraud, and so your policy could be invalidated. This is why, when calculating the value of your home’s contents, it’s important to give a sensible estimate. Don’t worry about overestimating slightly, as this happens, but you shouldn’t overestimate by thousands of euros.
- Leaving your home unoccupied
Some insurance policies can be invalidated if your home is left unoccupied for a certain length of time. This is usually 30 days, though some providers say 60 days. Therefore, you’ll be fine if you go on a two-week holiday, but if you’re leaving for longer than this, you must notify your provider. They may suggest that you take out an unoccupied home policy temporarily.
- Having broken locks
You should try to keep your home as secure as possible. Things like broken locks (or a lack of locks altogether) could invalidate your policy. Any damaged doors or windows should be fixed as soon as possible in case a burglary or theft occurs.
How long after a purchase do I have to wait before I can claim on home insurance?
You can usually make a claim on your insurance policy any time after the official start date listed on your policy documents. Do check the date, as it may not always be the day you took out the policy.
When an accident happens, you should notify your insurance provider as soon as possible. Some won’t accept claims for damage that occurred a long time ago and may even have a time limit in place (such as six weeks). The sooner you can put a claim forward, the quicker it will be resolved and you can replace the item or get the damage fixed.