Are bells and whistles on your home insurance policy worth the cost?

If you’ve ever bought any sort of insurance product, you’ll know that insurers clamber to offer all sorts of optional extras - at a price.

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Home insurance is no different - but which extras are worth the money?

The fear of under-insuring your home and its contents and not getting all you need following a claim might make you say yes to every optional extra on offer. But they might not all be appropriate for you, or represent good value. Here’s a look at some of those extras and whether you actually need them.

Legal expenses

Some policies include legal expenses cover as standard, but in the majority of cases it will be an optional extra. It pays for your legal fees if you have to go to court over something to do with the property, such as a boundary dispute with a neighbour, and will also probably cover other legal flashpoints, such as personal injury and employment disputes.

It won’t cover legal disputes associated with driving – but don’t worry, your motor insurer will no doubt offer you motorists’ legal protection insurance at the earliest opportunity!

Bear in mind that, with any kind of legal expenses insurance, the insurer will assess the merits of your case and only accept the claim if it thinks you have a reasonable chance of winning. It may also be part of the policy conditions that you should accept any reasonable settlement you are offered, rather than holding out for a better deal.

Legal expenses cover is relatively cheap, often costing less than £30 for a year. If the worst happened and you did need to go to court, this would cover your legal expenses fees and any legal costs that were awarded against you. It would not, however, meet the cost of any compensation you were required to pay.

If your opponent could demonstrate that you had been negligent in any way, the liability element of your contents or buildings insurance may stump up the cost of compensation you are ordered to pay.

The insurer would pay the solicitors directly and many policies cover you for up to £50,000 or more if you were to become involved in a legal dispute over something like construction or renovation work on the property.

It’s important you check exactly what the policy does and doesn’t cover before signing on the dotted line, so you know precisely what cover you have.

Home emergency cover

Home emergency cover provides funds to help you cope with domestic problems such as blocked drains or a broken heating system – matters that would not fall within the normal scope of your contents insurance.

The cost and protection afforded by home emergency cover varies from one policy to the next and is priced accordingly. You can buy it as an add-on for your home insurance policy or as a stand-alone policy, which will probably cost more.

Boiler protection-only policies tend to be the cheapest option and protect you against problems with your boiler and its controls. They usually include an annual service too. Boiler and central heating cover costs a little more but protects your entire heating system.

The premiums cover the cost of call-outs, parts and labour, which could otherwise cost you a significant amount.

The alternative is to stash money away in savings, which you’ll earn interest on and potentially never have to touch in order to pay for this kind of thing, especially if your heating system is fairly new.

You should also check that you don’t already have some form of cover – perhaps through your energy supplier – as it would be crazy to pay twice for the same protection.

Accidental damage cover

This covers you against accidents like bleach spilled on carpets or windows smashed by the neighbouring children’s football and so on – basically the kind of one-off accidents which damage your property through no fault of your own.

Before buying, be sure to check the wording of the policy. Many policies won’t cover damage caused by pets, for example.

Adding accidental damage cover can add up to around 25% to the price of your contents insurance policy, so it may be worth buying as long as it is fairly comprehensive. Remember to check the policy wording to check for any obvious omissions.

Identity fraud cover

Identity fraud has become more common in the information age, and insurers have taken this as an opportunity to make money with identity fraud cover.

You could pay up to around £10 a month for this type of cover, but should you need to make a claim there’s actually very little the insurer can do which you couldn’t do yourself for free.

Identity fraud cover won’t reimburse you for any money you are defrauded out of; it merely covers the cost of things like legal fees you might incur while sorting out your affairs following the theft.

But as long as the theft isn’t a direct result of your own negligence (ie you’ve given out your card’s PIN number) then your bank is obligated to refund you for any money lost through fraud, according to The Banking Code.

You can save yourself money by shredding any documents you don’t need to keep on file which contain your personal details, using anti-virus software on your computers and checking your bank statements and credit reports regularly for anything unusual.

Don’t double up on cover

Before buying any home insurance add-on, check the wording of your buildings and contents insurance carefully to make sure they don’t already cover you for the same things.

For example, some contents insurance policies automatically cover accidental damage to home entertainment equipment – so it may not be worth buying accidental damage on top of it.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

 

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