The above infographic about things that can void your homeowner’s insurance policy was provided by Lawsure Insurance.
why homeowners insurance policies don’t pay
Having our homes insured not only gives us protection in the event of a disaster but also gives us that well-needed peace of mind should anything occur. We have a much higher risk living along the Gulf of Mexico in Destin and South Walton Beach, Florida, than those that live in inland for such things as hurricanes and flooding. Many people that live here don’t realize that many house fires are started from lightning strikes. With higher than normal risks natural catastrophes, it only makes sense that we are more careful not to avoid our home insurance policies.
Many of us see our homes as one of the most important elements of our lives. Very few of us would be able to afford to replace all our contents should something happen, let alone structural damage.
So, have you ever read the fine print of your policy? Some things could invalidate your insurance and lead to your provider refusing to pay-out when you try to claim.
Below are 8 things to keep in mind when considering your homeowner’s insurance to avoid invalidating your policy and having your claim refused.
1. Renovations and Building Work
Instead of moving your house to accommodate growing families and the need for more space, many homeowners are opting to renovate their existing properties.
Before these works are carried out, you should also notify your insurer. Whether it’s a significant structural change or a bit of renovation, telling them will help you avoid problems later.
Firstly, the value of your property is most likely going to increase, and your policy needs to reflect this new value. Your premium may go up, but it is worth paying should you need to claim in the future.
Also, the security of your home will be compromised, with construction workers having access to your property and unfinished walls, doors, and windows that may not be secured adequately.
2. Having an Empty Property
We all need a holiday away from home now and then, and the best insurance companies understand that. If you are taking a few weeks off, you will not need to notify them of your absence.
However, if you plan to leave your property vacant for more extended periods, you may be required to take out unoccupied property insurance.
Typically, 30 days or more of property vacancy should be declared, but this can vary between policies. When in doubt, it is always best to give your provider a call to avoid stressful situations in the future.
3. Selfies on Social Media
Social media is a beautiful way to share our memories with friends and family around the world instantly.
But, it would be best if you were careful about sharing anything in real-time. Statistics show there is a link between sharing holiday photos on social media and burglaries.
The majority of policies will state you are to ‘take reasonable care’ for the security of your property. They can argue that publicly stating you are away and your property is empty could be a breach, especially if you tag a location.
You can still share your photos on social media, but we advise you to wait until you have returned home to do so.
4. Security Measure Changes
When taking out your initial policy, you will have been asked numerous questions to do with the security of your home, including your locks, doors, and windows.
If you decide to change any of these fittings, you should notify your insurance policy provider.
It is likely your security will be heightened as you are upgrading the models of your windows and doors, but this doesn’t mean your provider will be happy with the change if you have not told them.
Remember, many insurance companies will do whatever they can to avoid payment, and these undeclared changes could be an excuse to void your policy.
5. Getting a Roommate
Renting out a spare room is a great way to make some extra income, and it is becoming increasingly popular to do so.
Not all insurance policies will cover you if you have decided to take on a tenant as this can be deemed as a security risk. Even if your new roommate is a trusted friend, providers will see them as an unknown adult with keys and access to your property.
Before you welcome anyone into your home, notify your insurance company, and they will be able to adjust your policy accordingly.
6. Installing a Doggy Door
You don’t need to let your insurance provider know about the arrival of any new pets in your home, but if you install a doggy door, then you should notify them.
These can compromise your home’s security. Firstly, they can impact the strength and integrity of the door itself, making it a weak point for potential thieves.
Also, depending on the size of your doggy door, nimble burglars may be able to squeeze through and enter your home without any force.
Your dog flap may not make a difference to your premium, but having made it clear to your provider that you have one can protect you when you come to make a claim.
7. Exaggerating The Value of Your Home Contents
You will be asked to value your home’s interior contents when obtaining quotes for your insurance. If you have inflated their worth, whether deliberately or not, you could void your policy.
It does not matter whether the action of inflating the value of your property increases or decreases your home insurance. What will get you in trouble is being incorrect or even worse lying.
Take time to really evaluate this value. Remember to include not just your high-value items but also home furnishings, white goods, home and garden tools, clothing, toys, and cookware.
Keep in mind what you would need to replace should you encounter a house fire or flood and how much cash you would require to purchase a new construction home.
8. Not Locking Windows and Doors
As previously mentioned, you are entrusted to take reasonable care to ensure the security of your home, and this includes locking your windows and doors.
If you do not make use of these security measures and you have a burglary, it is likely to void your policy. When there is no sign of forced entry upon a robbery, claims are often not paid.
If you have a double lock on your doors, make sure you use these when leaving your home, even if you are not planning on being out for long.
Burglars are opportunists, and if they see an easy entry point, they can be in and out with your valuables in minutes.
Additional real estate resources
Frederick Franks has an entire on our first step in this article. F or anyone that is going to do a home remodeling project it’s important to update your home insurance policy before getting started. At the minimum contact your agent and ask them what to do.
There is nothing worse that can happen and having some type of issue with your home, filing a claim, and having it denied because you’re not covered. There are many homeowners insurance myths out there, Explained by Jamohl Dewald. Make sure to understand what you’re covered for and what you’re not covered for.
Karen Highland explains some differences in homeowners insurance and home warranties. This is a great article for those of you wondering what exactly these 2 policies cover.