New Zealanders love to try their hand at a spot of DIY and there’s no better time than the final days of summer to get stuck into some home improvements.
But before anyone picks up a hammer, IAG’s claims expert Chris Kiddey says the first step is to contact your insurer and describe to them the changes you have planned.
Your insurer will be able to tell you whether your house policy will cover you if something goes wrong and if there’s anything more you need to do to ensure your home is protected.
“Generally speaking, you need to be talking to your insurer about any alterations you make to your home that changes its structure,” Chris said.
“If the risk of what you are doing is big enough, your insurer will advise you to get a contract work insurance which covers loss of, or damage to, property that’s being built or altered.”
Chris said insurers can help homeowners to understand what is considered a structural change and what isn’t.
“If, for example, you’re renovating your kitchen you might be doing a couple of things termed ‘structural’ but your insurer might not think the risk is so great. The important thing is to ask in advance.
“Other jobs like repainting a room or fitting a new carpet wouldn’t be considered a structural change and so wouldn’t require extra insurance. If for example you have a spillage while painting, that would likely be covered under your house insurance.”
All house insurance policies contain some sort of limitation or exclusion related to alterations, renovations.
Among IAG brands, NZI’s home insurance products, State’s Home Comprehensive policy and AMI’s Premier House policy explains that any major work on the house will change what’s covered.
For example, a homeowner who tries to claim for water damage caused by rain that leaked through an unfinished roof would likely find that claim is rejected. This is because the damage that occurred was as a direct result of alterations that were made while your insurer was not aware of it or the necessary contract work insurance was not bought.
Fitting a new deck may seem like the ideal way to spruce up your garden and work of this kind probably won’t put the rest of your house at risk, it’s worth knowing that while its being fixed the area probably won’t be covered by your house insurance policy.
In scenarios like these, contract works insurance could help give you peace of mind.
Chris said: “Contract works cover might sound pretty heavy but in fact it can be priced according to the scale of the work you’ve got planned.
“Imagine a fire in a house that’s having a second storey added and imagine if the house insurance policy clearly excluded those additions.
“That would be a catastrophic expense if you didn’t have contract works cover.”
He added that if you are having major works done and hire a professional, check with them what insurance cover they have.
“Check what sort of liability cover they have and don’t assume that their insurance always takes care of you. Talk to your own insurer before beginning anything.”
Here are some common alterations and suggestions of what insurance you should consider before getting started:
|Project||Contract works insurance required?|
|Installing a new roof.||yes|
|Replacing piles or upgrading foundations.||yes|
|Removing or replacing a chimney.||Maybe – check with your insurer|
|Repainting a room.||no|
|Adding a window or French doors.||Maybe – a change like this may disturb the ‘skin’ of the house so there might be risks to discuss.|
|Replacing a carpet.||no|
|Other cosmetic DIY such as putting up a shelf.||no|