Tuesday 19 March 2019

Homeowners missing out on millions due to under-insured houses

People have been warned about the importance of house insurance. Photo: Getty Images.
People have been warned about the importance of house insurance. Photo: Getty Images.

Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

HOMEOWNERS are losing out on millions of euro worth of insurance claims because they under-insure their houses.

Property owners who scrimp on insurance are left liable for huge proportions of the cost of repair work if they property is damaged. A leading loss assessor has worked out that owners are losing more than €7m a year in claims settlements due to under-insurance.

Manicle Property Claims says some households are deliberately under-valuing their property to save money on premiums.

But they risk being thousands of euro out of pocket if they are unlucky enough to have to make a claim on their insurance due to a fire, a burglary, flood or other mishap.

Loss assessor Sean Manicle said: "We have found in our dealings with homeowners that up to one in five people are under-insuring their home."

Many people mistakenly insure their house for its market value. Mr Manicle said the property should be insured for what it costs to demolish it and rebuild it, including the removal of debris and professional fees such as the cost of engaging an architect or an engineer.

Another reason for under-insuring was to save money, Mr Manicle, of Kilkenny-based Manicle Property Claims, said.

"Some property owners are deliberately under-insuring their property believing they will save on premiums. However, in reality the savings are often minimal but the serious financial consequences are a lot more severe than envisaged."

The insurance claims specialist worked out that property owners nationally lost out on more than €7m in 2013, the last year for which figures on claims values have been published by Insurance Ireland.

He said he recently dealt with a claim outside Dublin where a domestic oil tank leaked and oil got under the entire house. The property was insured for €300,000. The cost of the works to clean up the oil leak was €200,000 due to the major structural works required.

Demolition

Mr Manicle said: "There is help out there to easily calculate the demolition and rebuild value of a property. We recommend that homeowners use the rebuild calculator on the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) website."

He said insurers would argue that the SCSI values are the minimum values that you should use when calculating the insured sum of your property.

Meanwhile, the Government has increased the grants to householders for getting work done to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. And it is offering a bonus payment of up to €400 if homeowners get four jobs done to ensure their property retains heat. The cash value of the grants under the Better Energy Homes Scheme is going up by between 25pc and 50pc, Energy Minister Alex White said.

Higher grants will mean a family in a semi-detached house could qualify for payments of up to €4,700 for getting external walls insulated, upgrading a boiler, and getting cavities and the attic insulated.

The new grant levels are effective immediately, meaning those who have applied but have yet to get paid will end up getting higher amounts.

Irish Independent

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