An increasing number of people are looking to make improvements to their properties. As well as landlords carrying out full renovations on buy-to-let properties, more homeowners are now upgrading their living spaces, partly in response to working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, but also due to the booming property market. But property owners need to check to see if their existing home or property insurance policy covers them for renovations or extensions. Here, we’ll explore the implications for buildings and home insurance during renovations and explain everything you need to know.
- What does standard buildings insurance cover?
- Do I need buildings insurance for renovation work?
- What is not covered under buildings insurance for extensions or renovations?
- When should I tell my insurer about extensions or renovations?
- What insurance do I need if my property is unoccupied?
- What to do when building work has been completed.
- Buildings insurance for renovation checklist
Under a standard home or property insurance policy you will be covered for the full range of insured perils including; damage caused by fire, storm, flood, malicious damage, attempted theft, property owners liability, and subsidence.
Your contents would be covered for the same risks, but this could change if your property was either unoccupied or in the course of renovation.
There’s no requirement to have insurance, but you’re taking significant risks without it. It’s important that you inform your insurance provider that you are in the process of carrying out works on your property as your policy could be invalidated if they’re not made aware of any changes you make.
You will need buildings insurance for the existing structure, as well as cover for extensions or renovations in progress.
Undertaking building works on your property increases the risk to insurers, especially if parts of the building are left unsecured during the works because external walls have been knocked down or windows have been removed.
Buildings insurance includes property owners liability cover for anyone who is injured on your property, but excludes injury which is a direct result of the renovation work itself.
Contractors carrying out building work must have their own public liability insurance to cover personal injury or damage to property as result of their work.
If the property is left unoccupied during the building work many insurers will not cover malicious damage because of the increased risk of vandalism. Many renovation insurance policies will also not provide cover for properties that are left unsecure, once the property has been made secure the insurance policy would apply.
You should let your insurer know of any major extensions or renovations to your property well before work begins to ensure they can make sure you have the right cover.
If your insurer cannot continue to cover your building during the renovation it will give you enough time to find an alternative insurer.
Sometimes a property is unoccupied during renovations – maybe you’re a landlord doing up a house for rent, or the scale of work means the home can’t be lived in.
Unoccupied homes present a greater risk to insurers, whether they are covering the buildings, the contents, or both. Risk of burglary (and associated damage), vandalism, arson and water damage are all heightened if a home is left empty for a long period, with properties especially vulnerable at night. That’s why you will need a specialist unoccupied building insurance policy, specifically tailored to your individual circumstances.
Cover is wider than offered by a standard home insurance policy and policies are available from 1 – 12 months to allow for varying lengths of building works or inoccupancy.
In addition, check out our guide to improving the security and safety of an empty property.
When your building project is complete the first thing you should do is obtain an accurate rebuilding cost from a surveyor to make sure your property is insured for the right amount.
The rebuilding cost of your home is likely to have increased after renovation works if you have added a loft conversion, an extension or created a basement area.
If you have taken out a short-term policy for renovation work you can now switch back to a standard home insurance policy to cover your buildings and contents, or a landlord insurance policy if you rent the property out.
Also bear in mind that you may need to increase the sum insured under your contents insurance if a larger property means more carpeting, curtains, furniture and TVs etc.
Insuring your building or contents for too little leaves you at risk of underinsurance should you need to make a claim, which could have devastating financial consequences. Read our full guide to underinsurance.
At every step of your renovation or extension journey you need to make sure you have ticked off the following:
- Inform your insurer before the work starts.
- If they cannot provide buildings insurance renovation cover find an insurer who can.
- Check that you have all the cover you need.
- If the property is going to be unoccupied take steps to make it as secure and safe as possible, especially overnight.
- Check with any contractors and tradespeople who will be on site that they have adequate public liability insurance.
- When the work is complete get an accurate cost to reinstate your home at its rebuilding cost, not market value.
- Inform your insurer the work has finished and take out standard home or landlord cover.
To discuss renovation insurance tailored to your project, contact our team on 01603 649650.