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Warning! With DIY season approaching Gocompare.com warns against glossing-over your home insurance

22 March 2016

DIY-ers urged to check their home insurance to ensure they’re covered against accidental damage and planned work doesn’t invalidate their policy

  • 14% of homeowners are currently planning a home improvement project;
  • Popular updates include kitchens and bathrooms, redecorating and improving energy efficiency;
  • Most home buildings and contents insurance policies don’t automatically cover accidental damage.

As new research reveals that 14% of homeowners are planning a significant home improvement, Gocompare.com Home Insurance is urging DIY-ers to check their home contents and buildings insurance before starting a Spring project, to ensure their plans are covered.

Gocompare.com Home Insurance surveyed over 1,100 homeowners which revealed that only 58% were happy with their home the way it is.   When asked ‘if they could change just one thing about their current home, what would it be?’ 13% of homeowners said they would improve the kitchen; 13% would completely redecorate their home; one in ten would add an extra bedroom; 8% would update the bathroom while 8% would make their home more energy efficient.

Home insurance policies typically exclude cover for structural alterations, renovations, poor workmanship and faulty materials.  So, tackling major projects that you’re not qualified to do – such as electrical or plumbing work - could invalidate your insurance.  You should always consult your insurer before undertaking any major changes to your home so that you can review your cover and ensure you don’t void your policy.

Most insurance policies don’t cover accidental damage to your home or belongings unless you have specifically added cover.  So, if you accidently knock over a tin of paint and ruin your carpet or put your foot through a ceiling while laying insulation in the attic, you won’t be covered unless you’ve opted for the extra protection of accidental damage cover.

A review** of 412 buildings insurance and 421 contents insurance policies found that:

  • 15% of buildings insurance and 14% of contents insurance policies include accidental damage as a standard feature;
  • Accidental damage cover can be added to most policies (84% for buildings and 85% contents insurance) for an additional premium;
  • 2% of building and 2% of contents policies make no provision of accidental damage.

Ben Wilson from Gocompare.com Home Insurance commented, “Spring is a prime time of the year for homeowners to get to grips with a spot of DIY.  But, whether it’s refreshing a room with a new lick of paint or a complete kitchen revamp, we’re urging DIY-ers to check their home insurance before starting work.

“We’ve all heard DIY disaster stories – from spilled tins of paint to tales of people accidently drilling through a water pipe when hanging a picture or putting up shelves.  But, what many people don’t realise is that most home buildings and contents insurance don’t automatically cover accidental damage – you have to specifically add it to your policy.

“Accidental damage cover is for loss or damage to your property and possessions caused by an unforeseen, accidental nature.  Common reasons insurers give for refusing accidental damage claims are that the policy did not cover the event that occurred, or that the event was not an accident.  Therefore, a claim for damage caused by dodgy DIY work may be refused.  Similarly, you have a duty of care to protect your home and possessions, so an insurer is likely to take a dim view of a claim for spilt paint damage to technology and entertainment equipment.     

Ben Wilson continued, “Homeowners planning bigger home improvements particularly those which involve structural changes such as knocking through rooms or adding an en-suite bathroom, should speak to their insurer ahead of the planned work to make sure they are aware of any restrictions or special conditions that may apply.  If the home improvement increases the value of the property, then the buildings sum insured should be reviewed once the project has been completed.  

“Likewise, when updating their home, many people invest in new furniture and furnishings or new appliances to fit in a revamped kitchen – potentially increasing the value of their household contents.  Again, people should speak to their home contents insurer to ensure they have adequate cover for their new possessions.”  

  • Move your belongings out of harm’s way and protect large pieces of furniture, flooring and carpets with dustsheets and masking tape;
  • Before drilling a hole - check wall or flooring for the position of embedded electrical wires or pipe work using a cable/pipe detector;
  • Make sure you have the correct tools for the job.  For your personal safety read instructions and familiarise yourself with your tools;
  • Be realistic about the complexity of the job, your own capabilities and the length of time required to complete the task;
  • For electrical, plumbing and gas work – use a qualified tradesman.

Gocompare.com has created a guide on home insurance and accidental damage.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:

*On 3 February 2016, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 2,004 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists.  1,104 are homeowners.  The margin of error – which measures sampling variability – is +/-2.2%.  The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of the United Kingdom.  Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

**Defaqto Matrix of 412 buildings and 421 home contents insurance policies (18 March 2016) - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto. Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.