Am I Still Covered If Something Happens To My Home During A Gap In Cover?

Am I Still Covered If Something Happens To My Home During A Gap In Cover?

Mind the gap – because it could mean the difference between getting compensated for damage to your home and being left out of pocket.

Gaps in home insurance cover may occur if you change or renew your policy and it doesn’t take effect immediately, or if you miss an insurance payment. For example, if your old policy ends on Monday and you don’t renew or initiate a new one until Wednesday, it could be a big problem if anything happens to your house on Tuesday when you aren’t technically insured.

Read on to discover more about coverage gaps, and what you can do to avoid lapses.

When do gaps in cover happen?

Coverage gaps occur when you miss a payment (or multiple payments, depending on the terms and conditions of your contract), or when your policy expires without having a new one in place.

So in a situation where your renewal date occurred on a Friday and you forgot to renew it, you are ‘off-cover’ for the weekend. You can of course arrange a new policy on the following Monday – but the cover only commences from the time you pay the new premium.

Is it dangerous to have a cover gap?

Absolutely!

If you don’t pay attention to when your policy expires, you’re taking a big risk because your property won’t be covered in the event it is damaged or destroyed and you may lose items of sentimental and/or monetary value.

If anything happens to your house or contents during a gap in cover, you probably won’t be able to claim and even if you can, you may incur a hefty fine for doing so. It’s always best to avoid a headache and ensure you have insurance at all times.

Will a gap in cover affect future policies?

It might. If you miss your renewal date, your old policy may be cancelled – and while a replacement policy might be available, it could be at a higher premium.

It’s important to remember that a late payment is a late payment, no matter the reason – it doesn’t matter if you expected more notification, are having financial difficulties or just forgot.

What’s worse, other insurance companies might refuse to cover you depending on the small print in their policies.

The myth of the “grace period”

Many people believe that if a gap in coverage occurs, they may still be covered by the original provider. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.

The fact is, if your insurance provider accepts a late payment that does not mean you have a grace period. Just because you pay them what you owe, doesn’t mean they’re obligated to cover you after the policy ends, and paying late will most likely result in a gap in cover.

It’s easy to renew cover

Avoid a home insurance cover gap by making sure that your policy is renewed or your new policy is in place before the expiration date. If you miss the deadline even by a day, your policy will break and you’ll have to buy a new policy instead of renewing.

If you’re having trouble with payment at renewal date, call your provider and explain the situation. Insurers are human, and will help you any way they can so you remain covered. They may be able to offer you monthly payment plans or automatic direct debits.

Once it’s gone, it’s gone

Well, with one (possible) exception.

If you have a relationship with your broker and forget to renew your policy, a phone call explaining the circumstances will often – but not always – lead to the broker giving you credit and paying on the insurer to renew the policy. If you’re insured directly with an insurance company, this would not be the case; once the renewal date passes, you are off cover

But that is the exception – not the rule.

The main thing to remember is the answer to the question at hand here: your home will not be covered during a gap in insurance.

“Grace periods” are at best an informality that can’t be replied upon – and at worst, a myth. Even if your insurer accepts a late payment this does in no way guarantee your home is covered in case of an emergency.

Gaps or breaks in your home insurance cover can turn into costly and potentially devastating mistakes.

If you can, always set your policy to auto-renew, or talk to your broker about your options in this regard.

If you’d like to switch policies make sure this happens well before your old policy expires to keep your home and possessions safe.

Talk to us in QuoteMe.ie with any of your Home Insurance queries.

One of the benefits of using a home insurance broker is that you can call us with any of your questions and we can give you expert advice. So, if you have any queries regarding your home insurance please call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051.  Our Home Insurance team are on hand to answer all your questions.

You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the right cover for your specific requirements.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Low-Hanging Fruit: The First Changes To Make If You Move Into A House With A Low BER Rating

Low-Hanging Fruit: The First Changes To Make If You Move Into A House With A Low BER Rating - Improve-BER-rating

A BER (Buildings Energy Rating) measures how energy-efficient your house is.

According to SEAI, most houses built before 1990 in Ireland score a D rating or worse – which is bad news for the environment, as well as your pockets.

The good news is that a little bit of work goes a long way – particularly if you’re starting with a low rating – and you can vastly improve the efficiency of your home just by focusing your energy (no pun intended) on a few tweaks.

Replacing your boiler

The warm, beating heart of your home might need some serious surgery – or perhaps a transplant. Choosing the right boiler for your house is critical.

Conventional boilers are heat-only, which means you’ll normally find a cold water tank in the attic and a hot water tank in the airing cupboard. These tanks feed the boiler, which heats up the water before it reaches the tap – which isn’t a particularly efficient approach.

Combi boilers provide rapid hot water by firing up as soon as you turn the taps on, heating only what you need as it comes through the pipes, and using less fuel as a result.

These boilers are expensive upfront – usually starting at around the €1,750 mark – but a good one will save you money in the long run. They’re also often found in kitchens and can be disruptive to replace, so they’re worth looking at before you plan any other renovations.

Installing (or updating) your thermostat

Most houses have a little box with a dial on the wall that lets you decide how warm your home should be – but if not, and you’re just using your radiator TRV’s (valves) to control the heating, you could be losing money.

Thermostats let you regulate temperature, and automatically shut off radiators when your home is cosy enough. Most models also allow you to create heating schedules.

Better still, more modern ‘smart thermostats’ also come with an app that let you monitor your usage, switch off the heating if you’re away from the house unexpectedly, or stick on the heating while you’re on the way home from work.

Imagine: between your smart thermostat and your combi-boiler, you’ll forever be spared the fear of going out and leaving the immersion switched on. Isn’t the future great?

Adding attic insulation

As you’ll know if you paid attention during Junior Cert Science – or if you ever singed your eyebrows after opening an oven – heat rises.

For most houses, that means the heat from your rooms travels upwards into the attic or loft – and if this space isn’t treated, you could be pumping heat into the sky, wasting energy and money in the process.

According to SEAI, a non-optimised home loses an average 20-30% of its heat through its roof.

Attic or rafter insulation is generally one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades, and grants may be available to help you improve the insulation of your home. Typical insulation materials used are semi-rigid insulation boards as well as glass/mineral fibre; the material may depend on the depth of your joists or rafters, and it’s always best to get professional advice even if you install insulation yourself.

Of course, to hark back once more to science class, every action has an equal and opposite reaction – and while your house will get warmer, your attic will get colder.

So if you have a cold water tank, you’ll need to insulate it to prevent freezing in cold weather – another reason why it might be best to install a combi boiler and get rid of the tank altogether.

Resealing windows

Like the attic, a home can lose a lot of heat out of its windows, even with double glazing (particularly for older installations). And while a full replacement of all your windows might not be affordable, there are short-term fixes available.

If you notice condensation on an internal pane of glass, draughts from the window, or noticeable wear, tear or gaps around the seal, it’s time to freshen it up.

You might be able to feel where a draught is coming in if it’s bad enough. Plug up the gap for now, then call in the professionals, as resealing windows isn’t best attempted on your own.

Installing ‘smart’ bulbs

Lighting accounts for a good chunk of a typical household’s electricity bill, so swapping out your bulbs before you get settled is definitely a bright idea.

LEDs are the most efficient light bulb on the market. They are available with varying degrees of colour, brightness and temperature – from warm white to cool white – and are available in almost all fittings.

For the ultimate in energy-saving savvy, try smart bulbs. These are more expensive, so try and think what rooms would benefit most – you probably won’t need to remotely dim the light in the garage, for example, or change the colour in the front porch.

For the most part, though, smart lights will save money in the long run by being easier to switch on and off – and they’ll also provide home security while you’re out [link to security article].

These small changes might not be the cheapest in the short term, but they’re always best done just as you move in. By optimising your heating system, insulation and lighting, you’ll keep your home safe and comfy for years to come.

Potential Impact on Home Insurance

When you are undertaking any significant home renovations it’s important to talk with your home insurance provider or broker to discuss the impact that they may have on your home insurance. It also gives you peace of mind of knowing you are covered if something goes wrong. Feel free to call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our Home Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the right cover for your specific requirements. We look forward to hearing from you.

7 Smart Home Gadgets That Will Make Your Home Safer, More Secure – And More Comfy

7 Smart Home Gadgets That Will Make Your Home Safer, More Secure – And More Comfy

We haven’t quite managed to invent futuristic robot butlers to cater to our every need – but here in the real (not movie-version) year 2020 you can buy a range of affordable, impressive home gadgets to automate tasks and make living easier.

Most require no technical knowledge to install and no specialist equipment except your smartphone. Here’s seven clever solutions that are worth checking out.

Smart Home Alarms

Cheap to buy and easier to install than a hard-wired alarm of old, these new security systems are wireless and come with a range of features to suit every budget and property.

Choose one with motion detectors if you have windows or other entry points in vulnerable locations, or with video and imagery capability if you want pictures of possible intruders sent directly to your phone.

Although not essential for it to work, many smart alarms come with dummy boxes that you mount on the exterior of your house to deter criminals.

As an added bonus, approved (and properly maintained) alarms will get you a discount off your home insurance – ask your broker what’s on offer!

Video Doorbells

See who’s knocking at your door even while you’re out of the country with smart doorbells from Ring and Aquarius.

It will notify your phone when someone’s at the door, and some send you live video while others can alert you even if the doorbell is not pressed by using an in-built motion sensor.

Google’s smart doorbell even has facial recognition, so it can recognise friends and relatives (subject to their permission, of course! You always have to comply with GDPR).

The Nest Hello includes pre-recorded messages – like an answer machine – that mean visitors get a response even when you can’t access your phone. This provides extra security, as it will seem like someone’s at home at all times.

Smart Lights

Lightbulbs from Philips Hue, LifX and now even IKEA make it easy to control your home’s lighting on the go. You can set up groups for rooms with multiple lights, and create a romantic mood without even getting up to dim the switch.

Smart lightbulbs can also display a rainbow of colours and cycle from cool to warm light, unlike traditional bulbs. While a little pricey they will last a lot longer than traditional bulbs, and you can set up routines to make it look like someone’s in the house – or just wake up to a gentle (simulated) sunrise.

Smart Thermostat

The Netatmo thermostat is one of several smart solutions on the market that make it easy to control your heating from an app or virtual assistant. It interacts with your boiler to control when your radiators turn off and on, and can send you energy reports.

Netatmo also make smart radiator valves which display the temperature of each radiator in your home and can be controlled by the main hub, making it easier to keep your home above freezing while you’re away.

Plug-in Heaters

The Lloytron stay warm heater plug is a super little device that’s very useful for unoccupied homes during cold spells. Plug it in, and the little ceramic fan assisted heater provides instant heat and acts as a thermostat feature for maintaining a minimum ambient temperature.  This retails for only €39 – much cheaper than burst pipes!

Whether you just need a little extra heat in a cold home office or need to keep plants happy while you’re away, you can combine the heater plug with a timer plug for maximum control on the go.

Smart Plugs

Why invest in smart devices when you can make all your existing home gadgets smart with one purchase? Smart plugs plug into mains sockets, and can themselves be plugged into – letting you switch it on and off from your phone or virtual assistant.

An update of the old clock-type timer plugs, smart plugs make it possible to turn lamps on and off, or even your television or Christmas lights. Better yet, you can swap the plugs and don’t have to commit to making one device “smart”.

Motorised Blinds and Curtains

Yes, even your window fittings can now be smart – providing the ultimate in remote home security. Motorised blinds and curtains you can control with a remote have been around for a little while, but now you can find ones that work with apps as well as Google Home and Alexa.

Set up routines for morning and evening, and you’ll never have to worry if your home looks “lived in” again. And when you’re back from holiday, you’ll be able to wake up well-rested and see the sunrise with just a simple voice command, without ever leaving the duvet.

Smart home technology needn’t be intimidating, and while most solutions are geared towards modern comforts they will make your home more secure. Whether deterring burglars with voice messages or making your home appear occupied, these gadgets are a smart investment to keep your property and loved ones safe.

Talk to us in QuoteMe.ie with any of your house insurance queries.

If you have any questions regarding home insurance and whether using any smart appliances affects your home insurance cover feel free to call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our home Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the best cover.  We look forward to hearing from you.

What Does Home Insurance Cover – And What’s Left Out?

What Does Home Insurance Cover – And What’s Left Out

Every home needs to have home insurance, just in case the worst happens.

Without it, if your property or possessions are damaged or destroyed, you face the second blow of not receiving any compensation for the loss.

But it’s not always clear what a so-called “standard policy” includes and what kind of cover you can expect – particularly as it can often differ from one home insurance provider to another.

In this guide, we’ll strip it back to the ‘core elements’ and let you know what to look out for when organising cover for your home.

What’s covered in typical home insurance?

When a standard home insurance policy includes buildings and contents, you can expect the following to be covered:

  • Your house – walls, ceilings, the structure and any fixtures or fittings that can’t be removed from the house
  • Its contents – furniture, carpets, appliances, TV, ornaments, etc
  • Your personal effects – clothing, bags, jewellery, sports equipment, bicycles, etc

The maximum value of the items you can claim on (contents up to a certain amount, e.g. €100,000) will be stated clearly in your policy. Most policies carry an excess, which means that you won’t be covered for the first few euros of a claim. A typical excess may be between €150 and €250.

Most policies offer new for old cover, which means you get the full replacement cost of items that are lost, stolen or damaged. However, some policies will only offer you the amount that your items are worth at the time of the claim.

What’s usually not covered?

You’ll have to pay extra to cover possessions that you regularly take out of the home, like cameras or jewellery. This is  known as ‘All Risks’ Cover, which is designed for higher-valued items.

Your home insurance policy may not cover the contents of a freezer or pantry, or damage caused by a computer virus. These may be insurable, but they will not typically fall under a standard home cover policy.

What kind of events are covered?

Any damage to your home or possessions caused by fire, flooding and storms, as well as theft, is usually covered, as well as damage from subsidence or burst pipes.

Always check your policy, especially if you live in a high-risk area like a flood plain.

You cannot claim through your home insurance if your contents are stolen through deception – for example, if you give your keys to a tradesperson who then steals from your home. Any damage caused by general wear and tear will not be covered, such as your carpet wearing thin over the years, and most policies will restrict and reduce cover if your property is unoccupied for a long time (typically 40 days).

Buildings insurance will not normally pay out for damage due to acts of war or terrorism.

Optional extras for home insurance policies

Many home insurance policies offer extra cover for an additional fee, but some may be already included.

Accidental damage can include spilling wine on your carpet or knocking over your TV and it’s one of the most common insurance add-ons, but bear in mind that if you have children or pets your cover may cost more.

You can also take out extra cover for your garden, to insure your plants and ornaments.

Bicycles are only normally covered by house insurance if they are stored inside the house: extra cover will insure your bicycle while it’s in a garage or chained up outside, as well as out and about.

Things you might not know you needed to insure

Some companies now offer separate ‘download insurance’ if you’ve purchased games, music or other digital downloads that you aren’t able to recover if you lose your laptop or device.

Home insurance generally includes liability cover, should a visitor be injured in your home and you’re deemed negligent – remember to check if this is the case when you review your policy.

But if you store money at your property – in a savings jar, for example – in all likelihood you have personal money covered, but you should check the limit of this with your insurer, particularly if you are keeping large amounts of cash in your home.

Don’t forget to make sure the cost of your food is covered if you have expensive ingredients or a large family. If your freezer or fridge breaks down and you lose a month’s worth of food, that will be expensive to replace.

This, of course, is just a top-level broad guide to what to expect (and not expect).

Always read your home insurance policy carefully, and if you find the small print impossible, ask your broker to explain it to you.

A good idea is to ask yourself: if the worst happened, what would I be most upset at losing? Make sure that is covered in your policy first, then check off anything else you can think of.

Talk to us in QuoteMe.ie with any of your house insurance queries.

If you have any questions regarding home insurance please call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our home Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the best cover.  We look forward to hearing from you.

White Christmas? 6 Things To Do To Keep Your Home Safe As Soon As It Starts To Snow

White Christmas? 6 Things To Do To Keep Your Home Safe As Soon As It Starts To Snow

The kids may be in a festive mood, but grown-ups know all too well the holiday season can spell home insurance nightmares if things go wrong.

Burglaries are enough to worry about during the winter months – but complications from bad weather is also an increasing concern as climate change means our winters are more intense.

Luckily, there are many things adults can do to keep things running smoothly so they can feel like a kid at Christmas.

Prevent freezing pipes

Water expands as it freezes, and if your pipes get cold enough the ice inside will make them crack and burst. This also happens if pressure builds up behind a chunk of ice – for example, if a pipe develops ice outdoors but runs into your home where it’s warmer.

Burst pipes cause massive damage and potentially catastrophic claims, so keep taps dripping in very cold weather to prevent ice build-up. Drain water from outdoor taps and cover them with foam insulation (or an old sock), and disconnect and store hosepipes and sprinkler systems.

Also, make sure to insulate water pipes that run through unheated areas of your home, such as the loft, cellar, or garage.

Stop ice dams

Ice dams form when heat escapes through your roof and melts any settled snow. This water flows to your roof’s edge and refreezes, usually at the eaves. Those pretty icicles? They’re a sign a nasty ice dam is forming underneath – and slowly melting snow can’t properly drain, potentially causing a leak in your roof and water damage in your home.

Clogged gutters and downspouts are the number one cause of ice dams, so clear them of autumn leaves soon before the first snow to keep things flowing as they should. Insulate your attic well so that snow isn’t melted by escaping heat, and you’ll enjoy the added benefit of lower energy bills.

Clean fireplaces and chimneys

If you’re lucky enough to have a wood-burning stove or real fireplace, check it’s clean and free of birds’ nests before you before you light up your first cosy fire of the season.

One danger of an unswept chimney is that soot and debris may catch fire. Get in a professional chimney sweep to do the job, and keep your home’s warm air from escaping out the chimney when you’re not using it by keeping the flue closed all the way. If it’s working properly, you shouldn’t be able to feel any cold air coming down the chimney.

Stock up on winter essentials

We don’t mean chocolate oranges and Baileys (although, ‘tis the season) – there are several inexpensive household items that are even more important to keep around if you see a heavy grey sky this winter.

Snow and storms bring power cuts, shut shops and slips and falls. You’ll need candles and plenty of matches or lighters (with enough fuel), a well-stocked first aid kit including personal medication to last a couple of weeks, non-perishable food for a minimum of three to five days (including baby formula if you need it), bottles of water, toilet paper, soap, lots of blankets, torches plus extra batteries. It’s also good to have a working, fully charged fire extinguisher, as well as sand, road salt, and a shovel.

Clear paths and walkways

Even if you don’t plan to venture outside in the snow and ice, you may still be liable if someone injures themselves on your property and it’s best to keep walkways clear in case of emergency.

Road and path salt is readily available from many shops, and you should sprinkle this at the first sign of snow. You may have heard that cat litter makes a cost-effective solution – it does not, and the clumping kind is especially useless for traction.

You should also shovel driveways and the pavement outside your house – or ask the kids to do it for a bit of extra pocket money.

Inspect your security

You don’t need to be going away on vacation to be vulnerable over Christmas. It’s a notoriously high-crime time of year, and even occupied houses are more likely to be hit – so secure your house now to make it unattractive for opportunists.

Lock all garden gates and entry points you’re unlikely to use over winter, such as garages or outbuildings if they contain tools that are valuable or easy to grab – a burglar may use them to force entry. Make sure outdoor lights are working, consider investing in a home alarm system, and don’t leave packaging from large or expensive gifts outside: stuff it down into the appropriate recycling bin, covered by less attractive rubbish.

Use these tips and you’ll be able to enjoy a stress-free Christmas without having to worry about the weather, intruders, or emergencies.

What to do when something goes wrong?

That’s why you have home insurance in place.  It gives you peace of mind, knowing when something happens, that you are covered!  Remember, it’s important to check with your insurer what level of cover you have in place for your property and contents. You can do this anytime not just at renewal time.

Talk to Us in QuoteMe.ie with any of your Home Insurance Questions

If you have any questions regarding your home insurance please call us on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051 and talk to one of our Home Insurance experts. They are on hand to answer all your questions. You can also get an instant home insurance quote online. We compare the market to get you the best cover. Enjoy the festivities and Merry Christmas to you and your family. We look forward to hearing from you.