Do your homework or you could be hit with unexpected costs this summer
As extreme summer temperatures look set to continue, our homes are vulnerable to obvious threats such as bushfires, but also to seasonal dangers that could cost the average Australian hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Comparethemarket.com.au has researched home and contents insurance policies and identified the top seven – and most surprising – risks to the average home this summer. These risks are based on caveats in product disclosure statements that require homeowners to have checks and balances in place to ensure they’re eligible for any claims. Don’t do the homework, and you may not receive your payout should you be the victim of an unfortunate event this summer.
Abigail Koch, spokesperson at comparethemarket.com.au details the work home owners should do now to make sure they don’t have a disastrous and expensive summer season.
- Leaving the house vacant
Break-ins increase over holiday periods – for example in Victoria they jumped 8 per cent for the last four years during January. Recruit a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your place, or you could lose more than your precious belongings if the worst happens. Long holidays overseas or even extended work trips are common for Aussies, but you could face problems with your insurance if you stay away for more than 60 days. Abigail says, “If disaster strikes when you’re away, then you could face a hefty ‘unoccupancy excess’ when you go to make a claim, or worse still, you could find you’re no longer covered at all. You must make special arrangements with your insurer to maintain your insurance.”It’s great to better connect with neighbours or anyone in the area who is generally home when you’re not. “Most burglars prefer to operate during the day, when the property in question is most likely empty with the occupants at work so having someone nearby who would recognise an intruder can be helpful,” said Abigail.
- Putting home jobs on hold
“If there is an incident such as a fire – you could have a claim questioned if you have let the maintenance of your home go for a while. This could end up costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says Abigail. We know to keep gutters and roofs clear but you should add general upkeep to the list. Abigail says: “Some policies may require you to keep the home, unit and contents well maintained and in good condition. If you do not meet your responsibilities, they may reduce or refuse to pay your claim or cancel your insurance policy.”
- No place like gnome
Gnome collections, garden furniture and statues are covered under most home policies in the event of fire or theft. However, Abigail says, it’s much harder to insure your garden. If you have a prized Japanese maple or stunning rose collection, and they are pilfered overnight or damaged by fire, they are not covered by the majority of insurers. Some premium home policies offer cover, but typically only up to a maximum value of $2000.
- Don’t let your home get eaten alive
“Homes are not protected by insurance from pest infestations – prevention is the only way to deal with them. And, a typical infestation treatment can cost around $7000 or more,” Abigail says. Worse still, the results of a recent study showed that termite activity increases as temperatures rise and the pests will also travel further for food. That means these home-munching critters will be hyperactive in a heatwave. Termites cause $1.3 billion in repair costs each year and your home has a one in three chance of being the victim to termite damage.
- Don’t be ruined by renovation
Some insurance policies specify that if you’re undergoing renovations that cost more than $50,000, then your legal liability cover could be affected. This is the cover you have in case someone claims compensation against you for injury on your property. “Compensation claims can run into the hundreds of thousands if someone is injured or worse, in your home or garden,” Abigail says. “Make sure you tell your insurer about a renovation project and the increase in value to your home to ensure you are not left in serious debt.”
- Keep an eye on spas and above-ground pools
Just invested in a deluxe above ground pool or a swanky standalone spa? “You need to check your individual policy document to see if these items are included. If they’re not, they may need separate insurance.”
- Don’t clutter your yard with trailers, caravans and boats
Many Aussies love weekend hobbies that involve watercraft and it’s not unusual for properties to have a hobie cat or a caravan on the block. Abigail says, “If they’re timber, these items can not only add to your fire risk but each of them may require separate insurance as they are seldom covered by a general home and contents policy.”
Comparethemarket.com.au is a comparison website making it easier and quicker for Australians to compare and buy products and services they rely on in their everyday lives. Whether you’re looking for a good deal on your car insurance, private health insurance, or home and contents insurance; or the lowest fuel prices in your area, or an energy provider that suits your needs, then go to comparethemarket.com.au. It’s a completely free service and enables Australians to make purchasing decisions with greater knowledge, confidence and savings.
 Tunnelling and Food Transportation Activity for Four Subterranean Termite Species at Various Temperatures.