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When is the right time to buy home insurance?

When is the right time to buy home insurance?

Owning a home is a matter of great pride and joy for all of us. But homeownership also brings with it a great deal of responsibility. No matter how well-prepared and how cautious you might be, it is likely that your home will require some renovation or refurbishment at some point.

It's therefore a sound idea to purchase home insurance as soon as you buy the house, and guard yourself against any of the dangers that can possibly affect the health of your home.

It's important to remember when buying insurance for your new home that home insurance policies need to be customised - you need to know what kind of coverage you need. For instance, if you live in a neighbourhood prone to theft or prone to natural disasters, you may want to check the limits on the coverage offered for various adverse incidents. As a homeowner, you should have researched the locality before buying a home. Still, we live in times when extreme weather events are becoming more unpredictable and more destructive. Every possible precaution thus becomes a necessity. 

How to get home insurance?

Purchasing home insurance requires a certain degree of prior awareness regarding your home and its surroundings.

The process of finalising the right kind of insurance also requires understanding some of the industry’s jargon. In the Internet age, both of these tasks can be handled by your favourite search engine. Once you are sure of how much insurance coverage you require for your home, and if you will also need insurance for your possessions, you can compare home insurance quotes online as well.

If you feel somewhat intimidated by the process, given how many choices need to be made, you should consider having a conversation with one or two insurers before confirming your purchase decision. If that doesn't help much and you're still unsure, your lender might have suggestions on which insurer might provide the necessary coverage. Another option is to check with friends in the neighbourhood about their experiences with insurers.

Remember: it's important to get a home insurance policy that offers adequate coverage for your new home; taking pains to get it right will prove worthwhile in the long run.

How much home insurance do I need to buy?

The question of how much coverage is adequate is not easy to answer definitively, but you can work out a reasonable estimate.

The foremost concern is the monetary value of your house and the expense that might be incurred at a future date if repairs or renovation become essential. The two types of home insurance coverage both require you to estimate the cost of “replacing” your house, which is the amount needed to rebuild your house entirely if such a situation should arise.

However, the first type, insurance for total replacement cost, allows you to work with the actual cost of reconstruction while the latter type, insurance for a fixed sum, requires the insurer to compensate the maximum amount estimated beforehand.

Choosing between the two options is essentially a choice between adequate coverage and the risk of remaining underinsured. Insurance providers will be looking to negotiate coverage within tightly defined limits and exclusions.

You will ideally need to account for possible discounting of the coverage, as well, and therefore should consider buying insurance that offers coverage as close to the full value of your house.

Also keep in mind that, if you need to rebuild your home, you will have to pay some percentage of the cost on your own. The costs incurred should ideally not eat into all your savings over and above what your insurance provider pays. 

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This article was reviewed by Head of Content Leigh Stark before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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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. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Are bikes covered under home insurance?

Ordinarily, home insurance only covers damage to your house, which can include additional buildings such as garages, sheds, and fences, as well as permanent fixtures. 

However, to protect the items located in your home or in any of these other buildings, you will likely need to purchase home and contents insurance. Even so, your bike would only be covered if it does not require separate vehicle registration, as is the case for bicycles and 50cc minibikes, but not motorcycles, and only when located on your property, parked or otherwise. 

Depending on the cost of your bicycle or minibike, you can have it listed in your home and contents insurance as a high-value item. You'll want to check your insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to know the normal coverage limit for a bike included as part of your home and contents insurance, as well as the incidents which are covered. 

Insuring your bicycle can be distinct to insuring any personal effects on your bike at the time, or even using the bike when you're out and about. If you want to cover those, such as something in a basket or a camera equipped to the bicycle, or the bike itself as you travel, you will likely need to purchase additional personal effects insurance. You can also read about any additional coverage available under the personal effects policy, though for full coverage, an ideal option will likely be a separate bike insurance policy.

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.

Do I need legal cover on home insurance?

Besides protecting your home and your possessions from damage and theft, many home insurance policies also cover unfortunate accidents that sometimes result in legal action. This is called home insurance legal cover.

What does it cover?

This type of insurance cover protects you and your family members from liability if someone gets injured on your property. You can also get coverage for scenarios such as you or a family member accidentally injuring someone else outside your home or accidentally damaging someone else’s property. 

Typical liability claims include slips and falls in your home and the ensuing medical expenses, or falling trees or branches that cause  damage to your neighbour’s home or parked car.

Dog bites are another claim often covered. If your dog bites someone and you’re found liable, you’ll be covered for the vet and medical bills. Similarly, if your dog damages someone else’s property, home insurance legal cover will often take care of your liability.

Every member of your family is usually automatically included in home insurance legal cover provided they live with you.