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Is your house (insurance) in order?

Is your house (insurance) in order?

Auckland, 9 June 2018. We’re barely into winter and yet we’ve already experienced some harsh weather fronts hitting New Zealand, and they show no signs of letting up. So as many home owners strike up relationships with their insurance claims advisors to get their homes repaired, Canstar Blue looks at ways to avoid the pits many fall into when it comes to insurance.

Canstar Blue general manger Jose George says:
“Our 2018 research has revealed that over 60% of people do not regularly review their insurance cover which could mean they are not insured adequately.

“Now more than ever it’s important that Kiwis get to grips with their home insurance as it look like change could be on the horizon. Tower Insurance recently announced that future premiums will be based on how at-risk the property is from all “natural perils”. This has the potential to disrupt the whole of the New Zealand insurance market as other insurers may take the opportunity to review their approach to risk.”

Another common problem people come up against is that they have not maintained their property to a sufficient standard and as a result, weather related damage can be a lot more substantial. Many insurers will not cover this situation because the damage may have been avoidable.

In 2017 New Zealanders paid over $1.65 billion in buildings and contents premiums. This was nearly an eight percent increase on 2016. In comparison, claims incurred by the insurance industry rose from $624milion in 2016 to $716.8million in 2017, a rise of nearly 15 percent.[1]

The elements of home and contents insurance
Although two separate types of cover, most homeowners tend to buy home and contents insurance together. Broadly speaking, the home insurance element covers the structure of your house and any permanent fittings such as kitchen or bathroom as well as driveways, paths etc, within the boundary of your property. Contents insurance covers non-permanent fixtures and possessions such as (but not limited to) electrical goods, clothes, jewellery and sporting items such as bikes and even trampolines.

“There are a number of things you can do to maintain your home, reduce the impact and make an insurance claim more likely to be successful in the unfortunate event of damage occurring.” Jose George continues.

Keeping your house in order
It’s always worth making a few quick checks of your property and even if this leads to a bigger maintenance job, it will most probably save you time and money in the long run. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Roof and gutters – including chimneys, should be regularly checked for weak spots and in the cases of gutters, blockages. Any cracks or lose tiles should be fixed as soon as possible to stop further rain or wind damage. If you live in an area prone to heavy snowfall, you may also want to install snow straps on your guttering to cope with the extra weight.

Trampolines and outdoor furniture – should be tied down or stored. Tramps are great fun for bouncing on, less so when they’re airborne and heading for your neighbours car! If possible, safety nets should also be removed for added security.
Trees on your property – should be regularly pruned and checked for rot or damage. Speak to your neighbours about trees along boundary lines and contact your local authority if you have concerns about trees in public areas near your home.
Plumbing and pipes – investigate any wet or damp patches as soon as you notice them. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and could invalidate any insurance claim you subsequently make.
Unplug any electrical items you’re not using – if there’s a power blackout or power surge, you will avoid damage to your appliances.
• If you are unfortunate enough to experience storm damage, take photos of the damage wherever possible. These can then be submitted to your insurer and used as evidence as part of your claim.
List and take photos of any precious or expensive items you have such as electronic, specialist sports equipment or jewelry. If possible, also copy or keep the receipts from when they were purchased.
Familiarise yourself with your insurance documents. If you do have to contact your insurers, it helps if you know who they are and how to get a hold of them in a crisis.

George concludes:
“As well as having the correct level of insurance cover it is hugely important but it’s also essential for people to keep their homes well maintained. It can be heartbreaking and hugely stressful for homeowners to see their property damaged, but by making regular checks they can maximise the protection and security of both their home and themselves.”


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