An online journey: the perils of tick-boxing
Whether you’re looking for landlord insurance or ordinary home insurance, there are inevitably going to be forms to fill out before you can get a quote. In the online age we seem to spend more and more of our time filling in these forms and the ubiquity of the internet encourages us to make comparisons by approaching several different insurers to see what is available.
Your journey to insuring your property will inevitably involve filling in a variety of similar forms online and the temptation is to get through them as quickly as possible, ticking the appropriate box without too much thought and moving on. However, this automatic habit – which we might describe as ‘tick-boxing’ – can easily come back to haunt you should you need to claim on the policy you eventually purchase.
Best guess principle
With many of the typical questions on an online property insurance form there’s no easy way for the average landlord or homeowner to come up with an accurate answer. Because we’re in a hurry to get a quote, we’ll often just put down a best guess and move swiftly on. For instance, you may be asked what material the walls, floor and ceiling of your property are made from. The choice will often boil down to being between combustible and non-combustible materials. In many cases, however, most of us won’t really know and will have no way of finding out.
We’ll tick the box that sounds the safest and will give us the lowest premium. Unless you live in a log cabin, the chances are you won’t tick ‘combustible material.’ Yet, there may well be flammable substances in the wall cavities. If this is discovered in the aftermath of a fire then your insurance claim could be invalidated if you had said otherwise.
Devil in the detail
It’s also important to read each question carefully and to understand exactly what is being asked. The detail and the small print may reveal you’re agreeing to something quite different from what you thought. Double negatives, ambiguity and technical terms with a specific meaning different to how they are commonly used can all trip up the unwary tick-boxer.
We’ll be returning to this subject in future articles but the important thing to take away now is that even if you’re just searching for a quote you should take care over forms and consider every question. An even better alternative may be to speak to an experienced and knowledgeable independent insurance broker.
Of course, we’d be happy to provide you such service!