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If our home is our castle then it makes sense to protect it in any way possible. We invest in locks and latches, in gates and fences, in smoke detectors and alarm systems – investing in home and contents insurance should be a must as well.
Even in our increasingly digital world, most of our most treasured possessions are still physical. We can’t compensate for the sentimental value attached to our belongings but we can try to compensate for the financial loss of either or both our property and our belongings. The way we do this is with home insurance (sometimes called building insurance) and contents insurance.
Home insurance (also called property insurance or building insurance) helps to cover the cost of damage to or destruction of your home, garage, other outbuildings and permanent fixtures (such as built-in wardrobes).
Contents insurance provides protection against damage or loss of personal possessions. This may include anything from a pair of designer sunglasses to a flatscreen television.
Landlord insurance is similar to building insurance but can also include some landlord-specific features such as loss of rent, tenant eviction, legal expenses and malicious acts and damage. Find out more about what landlord insurance is here.
CANSTAR currently researches and rates approximately 120 home and contents insurance products from 49 providers to see which products and providers offer customers outstanding home and contents insurance value. Home and contents insurance products are rated across seven regions and two sums insured so that consumers will be able to identify their demographic and create a shortlist of products that may be suitable for their needs.
We help Australians choose between stand-alone building insurance, stand-alone contents insurance and home and contents insurance packages. We analyse the data on a state-by-state basis across different sum insured amounts.
A summary of features that we look for in an outstanding value insurance policy are contained in the Methodology attached to the Home and Contents Insurance Star Ratings report.
The results are reflected in a consumer-friendly five-star concept, with five stars denoting a product offering outstanding value. So whether you’re looking for contents insurance in Queensland, house insurance in Perth, or home and contents insurance in NSW, CANSTAR can help you make a short list of policies to investigate.
It’s about working out what insurance issues are important to you. Some things to think about include:
From there, CANSTAR can help you compare features and price of home insurance and contents insurance policies that could suit your needs and you can contact the individual insurers on your short list for more information.
Understanding the intricacies of home and contents insurance policies can be complex. Below are a few of the more common home and contents-related terms that you’ll need to understand – although keep in mind that policy wording can vary from insurer to insurer. As such this is just a very general guide to some common terms. Please make sure that you carefully read the terms and conditions of any specific policy you are considering, to understand the inclusions and exclusions of that particular policy.
The accidental breakage of glass contents or glass forming part of contents. Glass contents may include such things as light fittings, glass in furniture and mirrors. It does not usually mean glass in televisions or small glass items such as crystal and ornaments.
Given the sometimes-valuable nature of these items, you may find that the item is subject to a maximum dollar claim limit, or if the item cannot be replaced or repaired under the new for old specifications, your insurer may pay you what it would have cost to buy the item immediately before the loss or damage occurred, although your insurer will not pay more than the sum insured for that item.
The amount it would cost you to totally rebuild your home at today’s prices, including any home improvements you have made.
The Certificate of Insurance is given to you by your insurer for each period of insurance. It is an important document as it shows the cover you have chosen and other policy details. It is used to verify the existence of that insurance.
‘Contents’ means your unfixed household goods and valuables and personal effects that you own including. It can include some items you may not automatically think of, including:
If you insure contents in a unit, contents can include fixtures and fittings in the unit which are not legally part of the unit building for insurance purposes such as light fittings, wall paint, wall paper, wall coverings, floor coverings, eg floating floors, lino etc, a heater or airconditioning unit that you own.
Make sure your contents sum insured includes these fittings.
You have a Duty of Disclosure to be honest and to tell your insurer everything you know or should know that a reasonable person would consider to be relevant to the insurer’s decision to insure anyone under the policy, including you, and on what terms.
The information you tell them can affect:
If you are unsure, it is better to tell your insurer. If you do not tell your insurer something which may be relevant, it could result in a claim being reduced or refused or cancellation of your policy.
The excess is the amount you have to pay for each incident if you make a claim. It is generally deducted from the amount of cover provided by your policy. The amount and type of excess that applies to your policy is shown on your Certificate of Insurance.
Family is generally defined as people who normally live with you and are:
The standard definition of flood is:
Unlawful entry into your home, including entry by using stolen keys or picking locks. It does not mean opening an unlocked door or window.
The actual burning out of an electric motor or its wiring caused by the electric current in it. Therefore the item you are claiming on must have a motor for the claim to be successful. Common items that may be subject to a fusion claim include washing machines, refrigerators, clothes dryers, freezers and pool motors.
‘Home’ means your residential building and its domestic fixtures and domestic structural improvements, at the insured address, including:
A provision that if your home or contents are damaged or stolen, your insurer will replace them with new items or repair them with new materials that are available at the time of replacement or repair from Australian suppliers.
This is extra insurance cover above that already included in the standard policy. You can ask your insurer to add one or more optional covers to your policy for an extra premium. An example may be accidental glass breakage, or storm damage to gates and fences. You can discuss with your insurer of choice the optional covers that may be available.
The time you are covered by the insurance, as shown on your Certificate of Insurance.
Your insurance contract. It consists of this PDS, your application for insurance and your latest Certificate of Insurance.
The amount you pay your insurer for insurance. You also pay stamp duty, GST and any additional government charges, and Fire Services Levy (FSL) if applicable.
PDS is the name of the document that contains the terms of your insurance cover. It includes information that would have previously been available in the insurance policy booklet. It tells you what cover is provided, details of costs, fees and charges and other important information. It should be read together with your Certificate of Insurance. If there are any changes to your PDS, your insurer should provide you with a Supplementary PDS, or a new PDS.
The most you can claim for any particular incident. The amount is shown on the Certificate of Insurance or in the PDS. The sum insured includes GST.
Tools or equipment used for any business activity except for home office equipment.
A home unit, flat, villa or townhouse subdivided according to state or territory strata or unit title laws, or similar laws.
CANSTAR takes pride in helping consumers make better financial decisions and within both home and contents insurance and landlord insurance that means that we endeavor to research and rate as many insurance policies from providers as we can. The secret to our ratings is that we compare on value, not just price. Do you want to buy the cheapest insurance policy on the market? Some do, and so you can sort the policies available based on price, but most want a policy that meets their insurance needs – as well as being affordable!
In terms of both home insurance, contents insurance and combined home and contents insurance policies, CANSTAR rates products across seven regions and two sums insured so that consumers will be able to identify their demographic and create a shortlist of products that may be suitable for their needs.
To be eligible for star ratings, premium quotes have to be available both online and by phone and the provider must provide quotes for all addresses quoted for the specific policy and sum insured level. To be available for an award the product must be available to customers of all ages.
In terms of home insurance and based on 2014 ratings, CANSTAR research and rate the following insurance providers:
In terms of contents insurance and based on 2014 ratings, CANSTAR research and rate the following insurance providers: