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Five benefits of home insurance that not all policies offer

Five benefits of home insurance that not all policies offer

Many Aussies would know that buying a home insurance policy can minimise stress about paying for potential home damage, especially after a major disaster.

However, there are other benefits - and potential risks - that may not be as well known. That’s why it’s important to look at the Key Facts Sheet or the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) put together by your insurer for the policy you’re buying.

You may find other things home and contents insurance can cover beyond renovation, rebuilding, or replacement.

What are the typical advantages of home insurance?

Before plunging into the lesser-known aspects of a home and contents insurance policy, it may be useful to recap some of the key terms you’ll likely read in product documents. 

  • Insured events: These are the incidents which can cause damage to your property and are covered by the policy. Many home and contents insurance policies include coverage for fires, storms, lightning, hail, theft, vandalism, riots, and accidental leakage. You can often buy extra coverage for floods and accidental damage.
  • Rebuilding your home after a disaster: Home insurance policies may cover either an insured sum -  which you and your insurer agree is the cost of replacing your home -  or the actual cost of rebuilding your home if it is damaged in an insured event. Damage to fences, solar panels, garages and sheds, and swimming pools will often also be covered.
  • Replacing your valuables: If you’ve purchased contents insurance, either separately or as a combined policy with home insurance, replacing your precious belongings may be covered. However, you may need a separate policy for expensive items, or for items you carry with you out of the house.
  • Excess and Premium: The excess is the portion you agree to pay out of pocket when you file an insurance compensation claim. While you’ll need to set aside savings for the excess, choosing a higher excess can bring down the premium, which is the cost of your home and contents insurance policy.

Does your insurer offer these benefits of home insurance?

The difference between home insurance or home and contents insurance offered by different insurers may boil down to the sweeteners of the policy’s coverage. Consider checking how your insurer addresses the following aspects of a home and contents insurance policy.

  • Rebuilding costs: Some insurance providers may cover all the costs associated with rebuilding your home, which includes not just the cost of materials but also the fees you need to pay to an architect or a building contractor. If you need to use green materials or comply with green building regulations, any associated costs may also be covered by your policy.
  • Removal of debris: Suppose a storm partially damaged your home and dumped a pile of wreckage on your property. Your insurance policy may compensate you for removing the damaged material - the debris - from your property.
  • Temporary accommodation: Did you know that, depending on your insurer, up to a year of temporary accommodation may be covered in case your home needs to be rebuilt? What’s more, you could also get compensation for the cost of temporary housing arrangements for your pets. Check your insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for details.
  • Legal Liability Coverage: Your home will probably see many visitors over the years, and you may be liable if they are injured in your home. As long as the injuries weren’t caused deliberately, your home insurance policy may cover your legal responsibility for others’ injuries in your home.
  • Electrical appliances and electronics: If an insured event, such as a lightning storm or fire, causes a power surge or power outage, you may be able to claim compensation for damage to electrical items. Note that you’ll need to add on coverage for motor burnouts, which are also called fusion damage. Your LED TV, mobile phones and laptops may also be covered by your home and contents insurance policy, although you may need to check the limit of this coverage.

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Learn more about home insurance

Do I need home insurance for a home loan?

While home insurance isn’t necessarily a requirement for a home purchase per se, it’s likely that if you’re purchasing a home with the help of a home loan, you’ll need to take out home insurance on the property. Home insurance can be one of the factors required in the pre-settlement documentation for a home purchase, and you may be advised by either the bank or a broker (or both) ahead of settlement.  

Can you transfer home insurance?

When you sell your home, you cannot transfer the home insurance policy to the new owner. The buyers need to purchase a new home insurance policy where the insurer will calculate the premium based on several factors.

The risk of any damage to the home is transferred to the new owners when you sell the property. You can speak to an experienced conveyancer or solicitor to find out more about when the risk gets passed to the buyers in your state or territory.

If you move to a new home

Can you transfer home insurance to a new property if you move to a new home?

Some insurers may allow you to transfer your policy to a new property as long as you meet certain conditions. These include informing the insurance company as soon as you enter into a contract to buy the new home. You may need to pay an additional premium when transferring your existing home insurance policy to the new property.

Type of home insurance do I need?

There are two types of house insurance policies, namely total replacement cover and sum insured cover. The former covers the total cost of rebuilding the house to the same standard before it was damaged. The latter home insurance type covers the cost of damages up to a predetermined limit, which is called the sum insured.

Different types of homeowners’ insurance may offer extra cover at an additional premium, including accidental damage, fire insurance, storm insurance, flood insurance, motor burnout insurance, home and contents insurance, and contents insurance. These extras are not classified as homeowners’ insurance types; include one or more based on your situation. 

How to cancel your ANZ home insurance

You can cancel your ANZ home insurance policy at any time by making a request in writing. The cover is discontinued once the insurer receives your cancellation request.

If you cancel the policy before the premium due date, the insurer will retain the amount for the duration in which it was in force. A proportionate amount of the premium is refunded for the period between the receipt of the cancellation request and the next due date.

You can also cancel ANZ home insurance during the cooling-off period, which is 21 days from the start of the policy. To cancel the policy, you should send a written request along with the schedule to the nearest branch before the end of the cooling-off period. However, if you have filed a claim during the period, the insurer is unlikely to refund the premium amount.

What is home insurance?

For homeowners, home insurance can provide some financial protection to your property when things don’t go as planned. If you have home insurance and your property is damaged (or even the permanent fixtures inside), you could make a claim to your insurer to cover the costs of getting it fixed, replaced or rebuilt.

The idea behind property insurance is that you pay insurance providers to take on the risk of loss or damage to your property that you would otherwise be carrying. 

Do I need home insurance?

While homeowners' insurance is not legally required, it’s an option for those who want financial protection for their property. Some mortgage lenders may even require borrowers to take out home insurance.

How much is home insurance?

How much your home insurance could cost and the amount of premiums you pay will depend on many factors, including the amount you need to cover, the excess you're willing to pay, and what type of cover you want to take. 

It's important not to base your insurance policy decision solely on the premiums being charged, reviewing what the policy covers, its features, claim exclusions, and caps when deciding which home insurance policy is the right one for you.

What is a home insurance premium?

Your home insurance premium is what you pay your insurance provider for covering your home under their home insurance policy. It is calculated based on the type of coverage you choose for your home as well as any additional coverage you buy for either your possessions or specific incidents. Your premium can either be paid annually or in smaller instalments. 

Your home insurance policy may cover the total replacement cost, which is the actual expense of rebuilding your home from scratch. Alternatively, it can cover an insured sum, which is a predetermined estimate of what it might cost to rebuild your home. You’re more likely to pay a higher premium for total replacement cover than for insured sum coverage.

Apart from selecting your coverage, you’ll have to figure out your excess, which is the amount you pay out of your own pocket for each insurance claim. If you are okay with paying a higher excess, your insurance premium may be lower. Conversely, if you choose a lower excess, you may pay a higher premium. 

Your insurance premium can also be higher if you live in an area prone to incidents like floods, bushfires, or theft, as insurers are more likely to receive a higher number of claims in such neighbourhoods. 

If you also want to buy insurance for your belongings, a combined home and contents insurance policy may have a lower premium than paying premiums on separate policies for your home and your belongings. 

Is my home insurance covered for weather damage?

It is important to understand what is covered and what isn't covered in your home insurance policy before purchasing it. One crucial point to consider at the time of evaluating home insurance policies is whether it includes home insurance weather damage cover, and what it actually means if it does.

Typically, the protection afforded by home insurance actually depends on how the home was damaged or affected by conditions. The whole idea behind home insurance is to protect you from loss or damage against an unexpected, sudden event, like a fire or storm. If your home was in the way of a storm and your roof was damaged, which also caused internal water destruction, you may be covered for the damage to the roof and the property. The same holds true for walls or a fence that got damaged in a storm or flood.

However, you may not be covered if the damage occurred because your property was not well maintained and your home suffered a leak. A poorly maintained fence is less likely to be covered by home insurance.

Does home insurance cover temporary accommodation?

Seeing your home damaged by a natural disaster such as a bushfire or a hail storm can be traumatic. Unfortunately, sometimes your house may become uninhabitable after such an incident and require major renovation or even rebuilding. In such circumstances, your home insurance policy should cover the cost of temporary or emergency accommodation. 

It's worth checking with your insurer on the coverage limit, as different insurance providers may cover the cost of renting another home for a number of months, though this will vary between coverage cost and insurance provider. However, the maximum coverage will probably run for 12 months. Upon filing a claim, most insurers will likely first ask an inspector to confirm that your home is too damaged to live in, and subsequently cover the cost of temporary accommodation after that. 

You could also need temporary accommodation because the local council or other governing authority may order an evacuation in anticipation of a problem or disaster. In that instance, you should check if your insurance provider will cover the cost of accommodation at such a time and, if so, how you can file a claim in such cases. If you are a pet owner, check if your home insurance policy covers the cost of temporarily housing your pets elsewhere.

Does homeowner’s insurance cover electrical problems?

Every home has a range of electrical fittings,appliances and wiring running through the structure of the house. You can face many kinds of electrical problems but, unfortunately, your home insurance policy may not cover all of them. Damage accidentally caused by natural accidents may be covered, as might the repair of motors if you have opted for fusion damage cover. For example, if there’s a lightning storm and your home suffers a power surge which causes a short circuit, any repairs needed may be covered if your homeowner’s insurance contains lightning damage.

However, if any electrical appliances stop working, even a home and contents insurance policy may not cover the cost of repairing the appliance. Also, you should check with your insurer about making any electrical repairs inside your home as that may affect your coverage. 

Usually, in Australia, you need to hire a professional electrician to carry out any inspections or repairs to the electrical system in your home. This can include conducting periodic checks to make sure the electrical wirings are not exposed to seepage, flooding, or attacks by rodents. Consider asking your insurance provider about optional coverage for fixed electrical appliances such as air-conditioners and washing machines.  

Does home insurance cover tenant damage?

If you have a property that you rent out to tenants, you may ask, does home insurance cover tenant damage? Generally, as a landlord, you’ll require a different type of insurance policy than a regular home and contents insurance that offers coverage for the unique situations faced by landlords.

Landlord insurance

As a landlord, you must insure against additional risks to protect your investment. A landlord home and contents insurance policy covers loss due to natural disasters, storm, and fire. Generally, it also covers fixtures like stovetops, light fittings, window coverings, carpets, and ovens.

Additionally, you may protect yourself against any loss arising due to damage to your property caused by your tenants or their guests. Some landlord insurance policies may also protect you against financial loss due to unpaid rent.

Does homeowners insurance cover tenant damage? In most cases, regular homeowners’ insurance policy will not cover such damage. It’s always best to refer to the product disclosure statement (PDS) to clearly understand what is included and excluded from your home insurance policy.

What does home insurance cover?

What home insurance specifically covers and the extent of the coverage depends on the insurance provider and the individual policy. However, home insurance typically covers the property and other permanent structures found on or in the property, such as fences, in-ground swimming pools, garages, and dishwashers, to name a few.

There are usually two types of homeowner's insurance you can choose from, with "total replacement cover" or "sum-insured cover". 

If you’re not sure which option to take, it may be worthwhile to speak to a professional valuer to understand how much it might cost to rebuild your home and replace what's inside.

How do you compare home insurance rates?

When you compare the home insurance quotes offered by various Australian insurers, consider looking at the type of coverage they offer as well as coverage limits and exclusions. You can choose an insurance policy which covers either the total replacement cost, which is the actual cost of rebuilding your home from scratch, or a fixed insured sum, which is an estimate of the cost to rebuild. The home insurance policy is likely to cost you more if you go for the total replacement cost coverage.

Your insurance policy’s exclusions and coverage limits usually depend on how exposed your home is to adverse events like floods and bushfires. It also tells you the maximum compensation that your insurer is likely to pay for damage caused to your home. If you live in an area with a greater incidence of crime or disasters, your insurance policy will likely cost you more.

The amount you actually pay for home insurance can be adjusted by agreeing to a higher excess, which is what you will pay over and above the insured amount from your own pocket. You should consider using the online calculators provided by various insurers to check how different coverage limits affect your insurance premium.