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What every homeowner should know about home insurance

Published on: 11 April 2016

What every homeowner should know about home insurance

From contents to all-risk and building insurance; here are the top things you should know about your home insurance policy:

  • What does your home insurance policy cover?
    Each insurance policy is designed to cover certain types of losses.  For example: contents insurance covers belongings that are kept in the house, while all-risk insurance covers items that leave the home.
    Buildings insurance covers permanent structures on your property, which, besides covering the actual structure of your home, may include outbuildings, as well as permanent fixtures, fittings, walls, patios and gate motors (amongst others). Your buildings insurance may also cover accommodation costs (within reason), so you don’t have to face crazy bills if you’re temporarily displaced from your house.
  • What is excluded from cover?
    All policies have exclusions. To avoid any surprises when you need to claim, make sure that you read the Ts&Cs of your insurance policy and make yourself aware of what is not included.
  • Are there any added benefits?
    Some policies have added-on cover at no extra cost. For example, if you have contents insurance with MiWay, you are covered for locks, keys and remote controls if they are lost or damaged - at no additional cost and with no excess (up to a certain limit).
    MiWay clients also have access to MiHelp, which is designed for any home emergency where you need the assistance of a tradesman – for example if you lock yourself out of your house.
  • Will preventive measures reduce premiums?
    Upgrading your home’s security may help towards reducing your monthly premiums. Once the security improvements are made, remember to inform your insurer.
  • What is the difference between replacement and market value?
    Replacement cost covers repairing or replacing your entire home. Market value is how much someone would pay to buy your home and accompanying land in its current condition. Your home insurance policy should not be calculated on what you paid to purchase your home but rather on what it would cost to rebuild the property.
  • Are there any time limits to filing a claim?
    When buying a policy, make sure to ask about the time limits to report a claim, and then abide by them! Normally you have 30 days to lodge a claim. If you wait too long, you may not be eligible for benefits—especially if waiting has made the problem worse.
  • Keep an updated home inventory list and other records
    In addition to saving receipts, contracts, appraisals and other documents – make sure that these are stored in a safe place. Consider keeping digital copies online using programmes like Dropbox or Google Drive. Here’s how to create a household inventory.
  • What policy covers jewellery?
    Any jewellery worth more than R15 000 that is kept at home and not worn outside, requires a current valuation certificate from a reputable jeweller, should be kept in a locked safe and should be noted on your home contents coversheet.
    All-risk insurance covers jewellery that you wear out of the house, and, if the items are valued at more than R1500, they need to be specified on your Coversheet.
  • Why does my insurer keep telling me how to maintain my home?
    The regular maintenance of your home is of upmost importance, as buildings insurance does not cover damage caused by lack of maintenance, chipping or cracking. If you are renovating your home, be aware that building insurance does not cover damage that resulted from construction, alteration or repairs due to defective workmanship or defective materials.
  • Does combining insurance policies save money?
    One way to save money on your car and household insurance policies is by taking cover from the same insurance company. For example, a typical family with two cars will get at least 25% off on the cheapest car’s premium and up to 25% discount on home contents cover if you choose to insure both your car and home contents with MiWay. To read more about this discount offer, click here.

The purpose of insurance is to put you back in the same position as you were before the damage or loss happened. That’s why it is so important for homeowners to know the ins-and-outs of each insurance policy so that they can avoid any unexpected surprises at claims stage.