Tuesday 26 September 2017

No refuge for your treasured posessions in home cover

Don't assume your home -- and everything in it -- is safe as houses just because you have house insurance, writes Louise McBride

IF YOU'VE stashed thousands of euro under your mattress, you could be in for a rude awakening if you're burgled over the summer.

You'll probably only get back a tiny amount of any mattress cash stolen. And it's not the only thing that is unlikely to be covered by your home insurance.

DIAMOND RING

If you've got a 10-carat diamond ring, make sure you've a good safe to keep it in as your chances of getting your home insurer to cover it are slim.

Such a ring would easily set you back €250,000 -- or €500,000 if it's anything like the one stolen from socialite Lisa Murphy after a masked gang broke into her home last month.

You can usually insure valuable jewellery separately under your home insurance policy -- as long as you're prepared to pay a bit extra for the cover. But if your jewellery is worth hundreds of thousands -- rather than tens of thousands -- of euro, you could run into difficulty.

When contacted by the Sunday Independent, most insurers said they would not be prepared to insure a ring worth €250,000 or €500,000.

Allianz, Aviva and FBD said they would not quote for a ring worth €250,000 or €500,000. Quinn Direct and Zurich Insurance also said they would not normally cover a ring of that value. The only way Zurich would cover rings of such value is if the entire contents of your home came to three times the value of your ring -- and you had insured all those contents for that value.

In other words, to be covered for a €500,000 ring, the entire contents of your home would need to be worth about €1.5m -- and you would need to pay insurance for €1.5m-worth of contents, which would not come cheap.

AXA said it would insure a €250,000 or €500,000 ring in certain circumstances. It would cost an extra €10,000 to insure a €500,000 ring inside and outside the home with AXA -- or an extra €5,000 to insure a €250,000 ring.

"We would also apply a 10 per cent excess in that the customer would have to carry the first €50,000 of any loss on the €500,000 ring for example," said a spokesman for AXA.

"We would have concerns about someone having a ring which exceeds the value of their home and its contents. We would look at moral and physical factors, such as the profile of the person insuring, security and so on when deciding whether or not to accept the risk. We would require a valuation of the ring."

Your best bet is a specialist insurer, such as Lloyd's of London or Chubb Insurance.

GUARD DOG

Your beloved Rottweiler was fatally poisoned by burglars who broke into your home. If you're thinking your home insurance will cover the cost of the elaborate funeral you're planning for your pet, think again. Most home insurers don't offer any cover for the burial of a pet that dies after being poisoned by robbers. Neither Allianz, AXA, FBD, Quinn Direct nor Zurich offer any compensation for such a loss under their home insurance policies.

Aviva is the only home insurer which offers any cover. It pays €260 dog death benefit if a dog is killed as a direct result of a break-in.

Apart from Aviva, the only other cover you'll get for the poisoning of a pet is through pet insurance.

BOUNCY CASTLE

That bouncy castle you hired for your five-year-old's birthday party seemed like a great idea -- until your neighbour's daughter broke her leg on it. You're now being sued by your neighbour.

As the bouncy castle was in perfect working order at the time of the accident, the bouncy castle company says it is not liable. You're hoping your home insurer will foot the bill -- but don't set your hopes too high. When asked if it provided any cover for such injury, Allianz said it has no personal accident cover on its home insurance policy.

Most other insurers will only cover you if you were personally liable for the accident -- such as if you were negligent in some way. AXA pays up to €3m if you are "legally liable", FBD up to €2.6m, while Quinn and Zurich pay up to €1.3m.

Aviva said its home insurance policy would cover the homeowner if they were personally liable for the incident.

"In many cases, bouncy castles are hired so that any potential liability for any injury sustained may also fall upon the individual who set up or owns the "bouncy castle," said a spokesman for Aviva. "Using entertainment equipment or facilities provided by someone else in connection with any social event would be excluded under the liability section of our home insurance policy.

"It is always important to ensure that the company or individual from whom such a bouncy castle is hired has their own public liability insurance cover."

TRAMPOLINE

You spent a fortune buying a trampoline for your hyperactive son -- but it's out of shape and unusable after a few months of windy weather.

Check your home insurance policy before agreeing to any expensive repairs. Most policies cover damage to contents, such as trampolines, left out in your garden. AXA pays up to €750 to cover damage to contents left out in the open (as long as the particular damage is covered by the policy); Allianz up to €650; Quinn up to €500; and Zurich up to €750. Remember, you may also have to pay an excess (the first part of a claim you pay yourself) of a few hundred euro when claiming for damage to your trampoline -- and some insurers may not cover storm damage.

FBD does not cover damage to trampolines. Aviva only covers your trampoline if it is left "temporarily" out in the open -- you need to pay extra to get cover for items left permanently out in the open.

MONEY UNDER THE MATTRESS

With faith in banks at an all-time low, many of us have resorted to stashing cash under the mattress. If you've got more than €750 under your mattress however, be warned, anything over that amount won't usually be covered by your insurer if a burglar gets his hands on it.

Some insurers cover as little as €400 of personal cash left in the home. AXA covers up to €750 of cash stolen from your home, Quinn Direct up to €500, Zurich up to €450 (with an excess of €50), and Aviva up to €400.

Allianz and FBD cover up to €650 -- and both insurers allow you to take out extra cover if you are keeping more cash than that at home. With the extra cover, you can claim back up to €1,415 in stolen cash with Allianz or up to €1,300 with FBD.

You can't buy any extra cover for cash with AXA, Aviva, Quinn Direct or Zurich.

ART MASTERPIECE

You're the proud owner of an early Jack B Yeats painting worth about €100,000 -- but you're petrified it will get stolen. Unless you've insured it with a specialist insurer, you're unlikely to get much back if it goes missing.

The Sunday Independent asked the various home insurers if it would be possible to insure a painting worth €100,000 as a single item.

AXA said it would cost an extra €2,000 (on top of the cost of the home insurance policy) to insure the painting. Zurich said that the painting would only be covered if the homeowner had insured the contents in his home for three times its value -- in other words, the homeowner would need to have insured €300,000-worth of contents.

Allianz, Aviva and Quinn said they would not quote for a painting worth €100,000. FBD said it would not be prepared to cover the painting "without a full survey".

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