Does COVID-19 affect home and contents insurance?

Does COVID-19 affect home and contents insurance?

As COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns have seemingly affected almost every aspect of our lives, many are concerned about how their home or contents insurance may be impacted.

Homeowners and tenants who are worried about surging premiums in a pandemic environment can rest assured that home and contents policies are largely unaffected by COVID-19. That’s because it’s not likely that COVID-19 would be directly responsible for events covered by a typical policy, such as residential property damage or loss, or damage and theft of possessions, according to an Allianz Australia spokesperson. 

IAG has also not made any changes to its home building and contents insurance policies due to the pandemic.

“Pandemics are not a listed event that we provide cover for as outlined in our product disclosure statement (PDS) and a pandemic would not cause loss and/or damage to property which is covered under a home building and contents policy,” an IAG spokesperson said, adding that it was possible for customers experiencing financial hardship to access premium reductions and deferrals. 

Lisa Kable, communications manager and spokesperson for Understand Insurance, pointed out that while circumstances have changed, but not all risks have changed due to COVID-19.

“There hasn't actually been a change by insurers because the risk of maybe being burgled has reduced, but the risk of inadvertently leaving a candle burning and having a fire or using heaters or dryers more may increase that risk, so it balances (unexpected risks) out,” she told RateCity.

“There's still risk there, they fall under the same risk bucket that when you took out your policy, but they may have tipped in scale one way or the other.”

Things to note about your home and contents insurance during COVID-19

While most home and contents insurance haven’t directly been affected due to the pandemic, there are still a handful of things homeowners and tenants should be aware of about their policies.

1. Cleaning costs

If a visitor to your home has contracted COVID-19, you may be considering hiring a professional to clean your home. While Allianz Australia has confirmed its home and contents insurance doesn’t cover the cleaning costs for properties if someone has COVID-19 onsite, not all home and contents policies across the board will be the same. It’s best to review your product disclosure statement to understand how you’re covered.

2. Working from home

Work equipment provided by your employer and not personally owned by you may not be covered by your own contents policy. But it’s also possible that employer-provided items may be covered by the organisation, even after it has left the employer’s premises. Organisations may have different types of insurance for items that they own, so you won’t know for sure until you check with your employer and your own insurer to find out the details.

3. New purchases

Many households may have purchased new items to use for remote working or leisure at home, and these may be covered under your contents policy. If you’ve bought high-value items, such as laptops or computer monitors, it’s worth checking your contents insurance policy to see what the value is in terms of unspecified goods. You may also want to consider whether you should specify the goods, or even increase the sum insured. 

“By ensuring your policy is up-to-date, you can be confident in the knowledge that if the worst does happen, you have adequate cover to protect what matters,” according to Suncorp Group spokesperson James Spence.

Additionally, if you’ve been out and about with these items, it might be a good idea to think about taking out portable contents insurance to protect valuable items outside the home.

4. Moving away from home

For anyone who has moved from their permanent home to their holiday home or back with their family during the pandemic period, you may need to be aware of the unoccupancy period of your covered home. This is typically 60 days, though some insurers have extended the vacancy period in light of COVID-19. Ms Kable advised anyone who has left home for 60 days or longer to check in with their insurer, particularly given parts of Victoria has begun its six-week lockdown.

5. General review

As we spend more time at home, getting to know your home and contents insurance may be important for anyone concerned about their financial safety nets. Ms Kable suggested anyone who has a building and contents policy to do a pulse check on their policy to see what’s covered and what's not covered. Comb through your PDS to understand your policy’s level of protection.

She also advised Australians to do an inventory of everything they own and think about whether they're insured to the correct amount. This might involve scanning around each room and doing a calculation of how much it would cost you to replace everything. Some belongings which may not seem to be worth much, including costume jewellery, handbags, shoes and linen, may easily add up to thousands of dollars. Consider using a calculator to help with this. 

“The last thing we want is for people to be underinsured. It would come as a very rude shock when you have to replace items,” Ms Kable said.

Did you find this helpful? Why not share this news?

Advertisement

RateCity
ratecity-newsletter

Money Health Newsletter

Subscribe for news, tips and expert opinions to help you make smarter financial decisions

By submitting this form, you agree to the RateCity Privacy Policy, Terms of Use and Disclaimer.

Advertisement

Learn more about home insurance

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 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.

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.  

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.

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.  

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.

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. 

Does home insurance cover tree root damage?

While trees can add much beauty to your property, they can be an indirect cause of damage to your home. For instance, a storm could knock branches off trees on to your roof or windows. A really strong storm may even cause the tree to topple entirely. 

Home insurance may not directly cover tree damage to your house. However, the policy will likely cover the incident, such as a storm, which resulted in branches or uprooted trees falling on your home. You can check your home insurance policy’s coverage for various incidents by reading the insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

You should remember that trees can require regular maintenance, just like the plumbing in our homes. Insurers may check whether the tree, its roots or its branches were rotting due to a lack of care, in which case the damage caused by the tree falling on your home may not be considered accidental damage. Again, if a branch falls on your house while you’re trimming it, you may not be able to claim compensation from your insurer for the damage. If any trees are growing too close to the walls of your home, consider checking that none of the branches or roots is causing any stress to your home, which can result in structural damage.

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 to make an ANZ home and contents insurance claim?

Making a home and contents insurance claim for the very first time can surely be a daunting task, especially in the event of a major loss incurred by a catastrophic event such as storms or floods. Moreover, your claims history can impact your premium rate, so it’s important to carry out the process as efficiently as you can. Fortunately, the process of raising an ANZ home and contents insurance claim is fairly simple.  

The very first step you should undertake is contacting your insurance provider online or over the phone as soon as you can. The ANZ home insurance claim contact number is 13 16 14 and is available weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm AEST. Be sure to have your policy number ready when you make the call, though. If you don’t remember your policy number, you’ll need to confirm a few of your personal details, following which the insurer will be able to locate your policy and proceed with lodging the claim. 

Your insurer will then ask you a series of questions regarding the event and the loss you incurred. As a note, it’s a good practice to submit photos of the damages while lodging your ANZ home insurance claim. Contact the police in the event of theft and provide the report number to your insurer when lodging the claim. 


ANZ may send an assessor or representative to inspect the damages onsite, and may even arrange for qualified or experienced replacement specialists to inspect the losses and provide quotes for repairs. As such, it’s ideal to conduct repairs or replacements to your home and contents only after your insurer has agreed to them. 

Does home insurance cover accidental damage?

Home insurance offers cover for any damage to your house and most policies cover the main building, garage, permanent attachments, and other external buildings that can be locked. 

Every insurance policy lists the defined events that will be covered, such as fires, floods, lightning strikes, theft, or falling trees. A few may also offer the option of accidental damage home insurance cover for other possible mishaps and unintentional damage around the home, such as when the dog knocks over the TV, or when red wine is spilled on the carpet.

The home insurance accidental damage cover is available only for the address provided at the time of buying the policy. 

Does home insurance cover termite damage?

It is unlikely that the average home insurance policy will cover damage caused by termites, mice, or other vermin, which are typically the result of negligence. For instance, water may have seeped from a heater or washing machine and dampened the woodwork in your home, attracting termites. Since termites usually build colonies, you’ll need to deal with the existing infestation and also take preventative steps to prevent future termite damage.

Treating your home for termite damage can be quite expensive, and you’ll likely have to make significant repairs depending on the size of the infestation. You may want to check if your neighbours have also had termite damage issues, and consider taking more long-term measures to keep termites away.  For example, you could install a chemically-treated soil barrier or baiting station, both of which may be effective for a few years. 

Consider inspecting your home  for any leakage or seepage from time to time, especially in the flooring or the outer edges of your home, as a precaution against damage by vermin. You may also want to consider hiring a pest control professional who can inspect and treat your home to protect against termites.

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.

How to file a Youi home insurance claim

Dealing with a disaster is never a pleasant experience, but it can be worse if your home is extensively damaged. At some point, you’ll have to estimate the damage to your home and file the necessary insurance claim. 

If you’ve bought a Youi home insurance policy, you can contact them regarding an insurance claim either by calling 13 9684 or through the Youi website. If you don’t remember your policy number, you can identify yourself and provide your address when speaking to a Youi member to grant yourself access to your policy details, handy if you’ve had to leave home in a rush and may not have had the time to collect any of your belongings, let alone insurance policy documents. 

You may not need to fill out any claim forms right away, but you’ll need to describe the incident and the damage caused to your home. Once you’ve contacted Youi, an inspector will visit your home and verify the damage before your claim is accepted and processed. Insurers usually expect you to contact them at your earliest possible convenience after a damaging incident, or within 30 days at the latest, as is the case with Youi