Accident-prone British households are costing themselves an extra £8m in home insurance premiums as a result of claims which relate to totally avoidable incidents. Research (of 2.8million home insurance quotes), found that 80% of claims boil down to four main types of incident Accidental damage, Escape of water, Theft and Storms and floods. But more frustrating – given that premiums go up when you make a claim – is that the majority of claims (51%) come from incidents that are TOTALLY avoidable.
Accidental damage Just shy of 32% of home insurance claims are down to accidental damage, according to our research. But what exactly does this mean? Some home insurance policies state that, for damage to be considered ‘accidental’, it must be “… sudden and as a result of an external, visible and violent cause.” Meanwhile, the Financial Ombudsman Service’s definition goes along these lines “… something that is both unforeseen and unintentional and which results in physical damage or loss of function.” In either case, red wine spilt on the cream carpet – or your dog chewing through electrical wires – should be covered.
However, accidental damage does not come as standard on home insurance policies. You will have to request it as an extra bolt-on which, unsurprisingly, will cost you more. And if you make a claim for accidental damage, it won’t be without consequences. The average premium on a typical household will rise by11% a year you’ll need to pay the policy ‘excess’. You will lose all or part of your no-claims bonus depending on which type you signed up for. The good news is though, there’s plenty of common-sense ways to make accidents in the home less likely. Avoiding placing drinks on or near electronic equipment, particularly laptops and home entertainment systems, is an obvious one – as is protecting your furniture and carpets properly when decorating. It’s also worth putting protective covers on valuable devices such as mobile phones and tablet computer – especially if they are used by children.
Escape of water caused largely by forgotten overflowing baths or burst or leaking water pipes, lurks behind 19% of home insurance claims, our research found. And making a claim to cover the cost of this damage is likely to add 24% onto the cost of your annual cover – plus of course all the other downsides mentioned above. But again, there are solutions. Automatic stopcocks, which can be fitted to your heating system, will shut them down should a high flow rate occur, reducing the risk of flood damage. And in winter, keep your heating on a low setting to help prevent freezing pipes. At any time of year, if you are easily distracted when a bath is running, set an egg timer for the length of time it takes to fill.
One-in-10 home insurance claims are made as a result of theft or vandalism. And while this will already be tough for householders to swallow, this kind of claim can also slap 42% a year onto the cost of home cover. Get into the habit of locking all doors and windows – even if it’s hot and you’re only going out for a few minutes – as well as any gates, sheds and garages. Fitting a burglar alarm and security lights is also sensible, as is asking friends or neighbours to park on your driveway if you’re away on holiday.
It might be bright sunshine outside your window right now. But flash flooding in many parts of the UK has pushed up the number of weather-related claims. In fact storms and floods were responsible for 19% of home insurance claims last year – up from just 10% in 2012. And the impact of a weather-related claim on your home insurance can be a price increase of 25% a year. Stay on top of home maintenance issues such as loose roof tiles and clearing leaves in the gutters, and check roof covers regularly for standing water. You should also stow any items, such as garden furniture, that could get blown around when high winds or bad weather are forecast. If you live in a flood risk area, it may even be worth investing in flood prevention products such as floodgates, drainage pumps and airbrick covers
Categorised in: Home Insurance