There is nothing like a breath of fresh spring air for our thoughts of renovating, refurbishing, or at the very least redecorating our homes. With that new sense of hope in the air, it is probably one of the most popular times of the year to think about sprucing up your home.
In your excitement to get the job started, though, it might be tempting to overlook one critical precaution – the home insurance that normally protects the property is unlikely to continue to provide the safeguards you need during the course of any major works. Instead, you are likely to need special, purpose designed renovation insurance.
Why do you need renovation insurance?
As we explain in a short note on the subject, if you are proposing works more extensive than a simple lick of paint, renovation insurance is likely to be necessary because:
- standard house insurance is unlikely to cover the risk of damage to the existing structure of the property or to the new works in progress (an extension or loft conversion, for example);
- the need to provide insurance cover for materials, plant and equipment likely to be present on the site; and
- the safety net of public liability insurance, to provide indemnity in the event of a passerby, visitor to the works, neighbour or member of the public sustaining an injury or having their property damaged and holding you liable as the property owner – in view of the very substantial amounts that might be involved in such claims, it is usual to arrange cover of at least £1 million.
Empty property insurance
A problem area – identified in case studies by the Financial Ombudsman – relates to the definition of an unoccupied property whilst it is undergoing renovation.
The fact is that most insurers regard the house as unoccupied if no one is sleeping there overnight, even though there may be visitors or workmen there throughout every day.
Since the property is likely to be considered unoccupied for much of the time that your renovations, refurbishment or extension is underway, any standard home insurance – or landlord insurance, if it is let property – is almost certain to lapse once no one has been living there for between 30 and 60 consecutive days (the exact period, depending on your particular insurer).
Insurers typically restrict cover in this way because of the perceived risks that an unoccupied property faces, over and above those normally experienced when the house or flat is occupied.
Those additional risks need to be covered by the provision of unoccupied property insurance as part and parcel of your renovation insurance.
In this way, renovation insurance may be tailored to provide all the protection you need for the existing structure of the home, the new works, materials, plant and equipment on site, your public liability as the property owner, and the restoration of your chosen level of cover for the duration of any period that the house remains empty and unoccupied.
If you are contemplating a refurbishment of your home that requires a reasonable amount of work, therefore, you are likely to need renovation insurance.