Accidental damage warning as just 16% of home insurance policies include cover as standard

A new survey* into the UK’s top home improvements reveals that a lick of paint, a new floor and a bathroom makeover top the list of work carried out by homeowners in the last 5 years.

Commissioned by GoCompare Home Insurance, the survey also revealed that most work (68%) is undertaken to improve a property’s general appearance rather than essential maintenance (38%).

Energy efficiency improvements featured strongly in the list including installing a new boiler or central heating system and improving insulation.

Top 10 home improvements carried out in last 5 years
Interior redecoration 50%
Replaced the flooring (laid new carpet, wood floor, etc.) 31%
Installed a new bathroom 29%
Garden makeover 25%
New kitchen fitted 25%
Installed new boiler or central heating system 25%
Fitted new windows/double glazing 21%
Installed a new shed or garden building 16%
Exterior redecoration 13%
Improved the insulation 13%

Beyond the top 10, adding a patio or decking to the garden (9%), electrical rewiring (8%), building an extension (6%), and a new roof (6%) completed the run-down.

Most (87%) homeowners have carried out work on their properties in the last 5 years but only a quarter had spoken to their insurer about their plans or changes they had made.  Home insurance policies typically exclude cover for structural alterations, renovations, poor workmanship and faulty materials.  So, homeowners tackling major projects they are not qualified to do – such as electrical or plumbing work – could invalidate their insurance.

Before undertaking any major changes to their home, such as adding an en-suite or knocking through rooms, homeowners should consult their insurer to ensure they don’t unintentionally void their policy.

Household building and contents insurance policies generally don’t cover accidental damage to the building or belongings unless cover has been specifically added. So, if a homeowner has a DIY accident while redecorating a room or puts their foot through a ceiling while laying loft insulation, they won’t be covered unless they’ve bought the extra protection.

Analysis** of 414 buildings insurance and 428 contents insurance policies by GoCompare Home Insurance revealed that only 16% of buildings and 15% of contents insurance policies include accidental damage as a standard feature.  Accidental damage cover can be added to most policies for an additional premium but, a small number of policies (1% of building and 2% of contents) make no provision whatsoever.

Commenting on the research, Ben Wilson, from GoCompare Home Insurance said, “Before undertaking any home improvements it’s a good idea to dig out your household insurance to check whether you’re covered if things go wrong.  While you don’t need to inform your insurer about routine decorating or maintenance, it’s a worthwhile precaution to check whether you’re covered for accidental damage.

“If you’re planning a major renovation project, particularly if it involves structural changes, one of the first things you should do is to review your buildings and contents insurance to make sure that you have adequate cover both during and after the work has been completed. Otherwise, you could find that you aren’t covered or worse still you might invalidate your policy.

Ben Wilson continued, “It’s also important to note that most home insurance policies don’t cover tradesmen or their work so, before you employ anyone check they have their own insurance in place.  You should also check that any tradesmen you use are qualified to carry out the work and registered with a recognised governing body.”

To help homeowners work out how much different home improvements could add to the value of their home, GoCompare Home Insurance has produced a ‘Property Investment Calculator’.  The calculator shows the estimated profit after the average cost of works have been deducted: