Some Buildings insurance policies differ in the cover they provide and in their terms and conditions.

Buildings insurance policies differ in the cover they provide and in their terms and conditions. The information here is of a general nature – for detailed information you must read your policy.

Property Covered

In addition to the structure, a buildings policy covers permanent fixtures and fittings such as baths and toilets, fitted kitchens and bedroom cupboards. Interior decorations are also covered. Policies usually extend to include outbuildings such as garages, greenhouses and garden sheds. Boundary walls, fences, gates, paths, drives and swimming pools may not be covered – you need to check the policy if you need cover for these areas.

Against What Risks?

Most policies cover damage to your home by:

FireAircraft or things falling from them
LightningSubsidence, heave and landslip
ExplosionFalling trees or branches
EarthquakeImpact by vehicles or animals
TheftBreakage or collapse of aerials
Riot and malicious personsEscape of water from tanks or pipes
Storm & FloodEscape of oil from fixed heating installations

Extensions of Cover

Most buildings’ policies have valuable extensions of cover.

  • Alternative Accommodation – If your home is so badly damaged that you cannot live in it until repairs are done, your policy will help to meet the reasonable cost of alternative accommodation up to a stated limit.
  • Liability – If, as owner of your home you are responsible for any injury to someone or for damage to their property your policy will pay the damages and cost for which you are legally liable. There is usually an upper limit of £1 million or more. However, your main legal liability arises from you being occupier of your home and a contents policy covers this.
  • Underground Pipes and Cables – supplying gas, electricity, oil or water, as well as sewage pipes, are insured against accidental damage. They are not insured against wear and tear.
  • Glass – In doors, windows and skylights is covered against breakage together with baths, washbasins and WC’s.

There are limits and exceptions to every policy so make sure you have read it. It is a legal contract and if there is anything you do not understand ask for an explanation.

One word you will come across is ‘excess’. An excess is an amount of money you have to pay towards the cost of each claim.  Excesses vary in amount. They may apply only to certain types of claim or they may apply to all claims. Your policy will tell you.

One type of excess that appears in almost all policies applies to damage caused by subsidence, heave or landslip. This is usually a specific amount (for example £1,OOO). Common exclusions are war risks, damage caused by storm or flood to gates or fences, frost, sonic bangs and radioactive contamination from nuclear fuel or nuclear waste.

Be careful – Not all insurance policies are the same.

The cost of heating oil has increased significantly recently, resulting in the theft of heating oil from both domestic and commercial properties raising.

The first indication that a theft has taken place is often when the heating stops working. Usually, it’s assumed the boiler is at fault, but regrettably the problem is often that there’s no oil left. Thefts vary from small amounts being stolen to the whole tank being drained. The methods used by the thieves can be very crude, including drilling or punching holes in the side of the tank and then filling jerry cans.

What you can do to prevent losses:

  • Monitor the level of oil in your tank regularly.
  • Conceal the location of the tank by using hedging, fencing or walling.
  • Securely lock doors at all times if the tank is situated within a building.
  • Consider installing security lighting to cover the tank, if it is overlooked by nearby buildings.
  • Ask nearby residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.
  • Padlock the valve. This may not always be the correct course of action, as thieves may smash the valve completely, but it can deter a less determined thief.
  • Ensure any gates are locked at night, to make it more difficult for a thief to escape with oil.
  • Install an alarm device which creates an alert if the oil level suddenly drops or if the lock is attacked.
  • Consider closed circuit television.