Many buildings and properties don’t fit neatly into a box marked ‘standard’, perhaps because they have a thatched roof, subsidence issues or are a listed building. Unusual homes or residences can be easy on the eye, but they can prove difficult to insure.
If you currently own or are planning to buy a ‘non-standard’ property, it would be prudent to look at specialist home insurance, or non-standard home insurance as it is sometimes known to cover a myriad of scenarios as follows:
One in six homes in England is at risk of flooding, current levels of flood protection for five million properties face ‘major risks’ due to lack of long-term defence maintenance budgets, MPs have warned*
You can find out if yours is one of them by visiting the website of the Environment Agency at www.environment-agency.gov.uk. If you live in a flood risk area, it will almost certainly affect your home insurance premiums and you will probably have to seek out specialist cover.
Properties with thatched roofs are generally old – and at higher risk of fire damage than homes of a more standard construction. So mainstream insurers are wary. It is, however, imperative that you arrange the correct cover in case of a claim; otherwise you could be left with an expensive repair bill.
The main cause of subsidence in the UK is the shrinkage of clay soil in dry weather. Clay soil is particularly common in the South East, so properties in the area are especially vulnerable. But trees can also have a big impact, as they suck moisture from the soil. Subsidence claims can be expensive. So you can expect to pay a higher premium for your buildings insurance if your property is prone to subsidence. The terms and conditions of the policy could also differ from standard cover.
Tell-tale cracks – how do you tell if your property is suffering from subsidence? Cracks caused by subsidence are distinctive. They will occur both inside and outside the home, be narrower at one end than the other and may extend below the damp proof course. Subsidence can also cause doors and windows to stick as the property shifts out of alignment.
Cracks are also likely to worsen over a relatively short period of time – months, or even weeks. A ‘normal’ settling crack might remain the same for years.
Listed buildings are protected by law and you usually need special permission to carry out any repairs or alterations. You might even have to use a certain type of material or technique, which can be expensive. Owners of listed buildings often need specialist help to find appropriate cover and this is something we can definitely help you with at Riskworks Business Services.
Standard home insurance policies seldom cover a property that is left unoccupied for more than 30 days. If you know you are going to be away from home for a month or so, perhaps due to a long stay in hospital or an extended trip abroad, you should make sure that you have suitable cover to protect your property and belongings.
A farm is a business as well as your home, which means that a standard home insurance policy is simply insufficient for your specific needs. A specialist house insurance policy really is a must in this circumstance.
Non-Standard Construction Insurance
If your home or property has brick walls and a tile roof, then you can be almost certain that it will be classed by an insurer as ‘standard construction’. However, many properties are more unusual in construction. They might, for example, have a timber frame or be made using traditional methods of wattle and daub. If so, you will require a specialist buildings insurance policy to ensure you are adequately covered.
If you choose to build your own home then you will need specialist self-build home insurance to cover the property during the project.
It may not be the most exciting element of a self-build project, but it is one of the most crucial. Insurance, put simply, is protection from total financial disaster. Anything that puts stress on a self-build time frame or budget, an accident that incapacitates the self-builder, a serious injury on-site that requires investigation, theft, fire, flood, having to meet legal fees and so on can have a catastrophic effect.
Insurance puts the self build project back to the stage it was prior to the incident and provides that financial cushion. It should be in place from the start of a project through to completion. Recognising the financial and emotional strain a self build project can put on a family, it is surprising the number of people who do not put mechanisms in place to reduce the risk of a financial or emotional breakdown.
To discuss your requirements in more contact the Riskworks Private Client Manager – Emma Patrick
01625 547754 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The Guardian 25th March 2015