independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Insurance 'extras' are pushing up homeowners' bills

HOMEOWNERS will not get cheaper house insurance by being prepared to pay part of the claims themselves, a new survey has found.

Insurers have been persuading householders to accept an excess on their policies in return for lower-priced cover.

An excess is the amount of a claim you have to pay yourself before you can get the rest off the loss covered by the insurer. Excess amounts of €500 are not unusual.

But a new survey by the National Consumer Agency has found that insurers that ask consumers to accept a high excess do not give better value.

Director of the NCA Fergal O'Leary cautioned: "The excess figure indicates the amount a consumer will have to pay upfront on any claim. The research shows that a lower quote does not necessarily mean a higher excess and vice versa.

"For example, in five out of six cases the highest quote also carried the highest excess of €500."

Householders were also warned about signing up for expensive add-ons to their insurance, particularly "all-risks" cover.

This is extra protection for high-value items like jewellery, laptops and bikes which may be stolen from outside the home.

Consumers can list out to their insurer what is included in the all-risks cover. This is known as specified risk.

Mr O'Leary said consumers should clarify and fully understand what is covered under specified and unspecified risk.

Insurance companies differ in their treatment of high-value items, and also the cover provided in each case, Mr O'Leary added.

Householders have been warned that some home insurance companies charge so much that savings of €360 can be made on annual premiums.

Insurance quotes were sought from Aviva, RSA, AIG, Allianz, Axa, Liberty, FBD and Zurich.

One of the property types the survey looked at was a two-bed terraced house in Waterford city.

The most expensive quote was €546, whilst the cheapest quote provided was for €184. The average quote for this profile was €278.

But separate research from the NCA shows that just 14 out of 100 consumers have switched home insurance provider in the past year.

This is despite the fact that eight out of 10 of those who did switch saved money.

"A consumer is in a much better position to choose the best value offering if they take a little time to see what is available in the market and we would strongly urge all consumers to do so," Mr O'Leary said.

The new survey is available to view by logging onto consumerhelp.ie.

Irish Independent

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