Will improvements or extensions to my house change my home insurance?

In a previous post, we talked about how home improvements such as extensions can add considerably to the value of your home. But will carrying out these kind of improvements impact your home insurance?

It’s great to be able to invest in your home, and many people are now choosing to improve rather than move. If you’re thinking of renovating or extending your home, it’s vital to speak to your home insurance provider to ensure that your policy also covers what you’re having done to your home. If you don’t and something does unfortunately happen it may be possible that your insurance policy doesn’t cover you. Here are some considerations if you’re thinking of home improvements.

Protecting your home during the actual building work

Building sites are dangerous places, and for the period during which you’re having work done to your house, it’s rather more vulnerable than usual. With builders going in and out, heavy machinery and materials being delivered, doors and windows being replaced and hazardous works being done, you’ll want to know that your home and its contents are covered throughout. That includes cover for injuries that may be suffered at your home as a result of the building work.

Your legal obligations

Assuming you’re employing a professional building company, you’re also likely to be tied into some legal obligations in your contract with them. One such obligation may involve insuring your home – both in its present condition and for the work you’re having done to it – in a joint insurance policy with your builder, so check the wording of your contract carefully. When you enter into a joint contract in this way, insurers aren’t able to recover costs from your contractor even when they’ve been negligent, so many insurers may be hesitant to maintain your insurance cover at its current level. What’s more, contractors are meant to ensure that they have insurance cover for the work they’re doing, but if they don’t, you’re likely to be left in the lurch if something goes wrong. So check with them and ask to see their documentation, they will be familiar with producing and really won’t mind.

The cost of rebuilding

Keep in mind that your home always needs to be insured for the cost of rebuilding it, and if your home improvements mean that it would cost more to rebuild, your insurer needs to know, and will likely result in increasing the sums insured. This may cost extra but will mean in the unfortunate event of a claim a deduction will not be made and settlement paid in full. Though more minor works such as decorating or installing a new kitchen are unlikely to affect your insurance significantly if at all, structural changes such as an extension, loft conversion or works that will involve your home being empty or potentially unsecure for a short or prolonged period need to be flagged with your insurer.

If you’re having your home significantly altered, it stands to reason that your existing home insurance policy is unlikely to remain valid. While ‘normal’ home insurance is likely to be insufficient for covering you during major building work, dedicated insurance for home improvements will cover you for anything that could go wrong during this time while your home is a building site.

Finally, a good rule of thumb is: if in doubt, always tell your insurer if you’re having work done to your home! And don’t wait until the last minute, it’s prudent to advise the insurer even at the planning stage, that way there’s no surprises further down the line.