What can void home insurance?

Personal Finance Writer · 20 September 2021
There’s a lot to be said for home insurance. It can be comforting to know that your home is financially protected if something happened to your property. But take care to avoid actions or oversights that could potentially void your cover. Here’s a list of nine things to consider.

Your home is more than a roof over your head. It’s a valuable investment, and that makes it worth considering insuring it. In fact, when you take out a home loan, the lender is likely to make it a condition of the loan that you have home insurance.

Even with insurance in place, it’s important to avoid any steps or oversights that could see your insurance company walk away from a claim.

9 mistakes that could void your home insurance

We look at 9 mistakes that could possibly void your home insurance.

1. Forgetting to renew the policy

It may sound obvious: If you don’t pay your premium when it falls due, you’re not going to be covered. The trouble is, in our busy lives it’s easy to put bills on the backburner and forget about them altogether.

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) warns that if you don’t pay the premium, your cover may be cancelled. The insurance company may offer a grace period, but the ICA explains that your insurer can refuse to pay a claim if the premium is 14 days or more overdue. If you’re a month behind with the payment, your policy can be cancelled without notice.

The main point is to stay on top of your home insurance premiums when renewal time rolls around, or risk voiding your cover.

2. Your leave your home unoccupied

If you’re planning an extended vacation, it’s worth letting the insurance company know. Leaving your home vacant for an extended period of time can void your insurance. The timespan you’re looking at can vary between insurers. In general though, if your home is unoccupied for more than 60 days you may not be covered. Check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for details.

3. Your home isn’t well maintained

Your home is likely your most valuable asset, so it makes sense to keep it in great shape. Regular maintenance is also a must-do from an insurance perspective. Claims for a poorly maintained property can be knocked back. And we’re not just talking a weekly vacuum. GIO advises that issues like allowing debris to build up in your gutters could reduce or void your claim.

4. You’ve put repairs on the back burner

Here’s another good reason to stay on top of maintenance. If you haven’t repaired any old or existing damage to your home, your claim can be voided – especially if it contributed to the damage you’re making a claim for.

5. You can’t provide proof at claim time

If your home is burgled, insurers ideally like to see receipts that prove you owned an item you’re making a claim for, as well as their value. On the plus side, if the receipts are long gone, the insurance company may accept other evidence such as bank or credit card statements or photographs.

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6. You don’t lock up

When we’re in a rush, it can be easy to forget to lock up. That’s different from consistently leaving your home unlocked – something that can void your home insurance. It reflects the way that insurers want you to play a part in ‘taking reasonable care’ to protect your property.

7. You didn’t contact the police

Arriving home to find your place has been burgled – or there’s been an attempted break in, can be extremely traumatic. Even so, it makes sense to contact your local police as soon as possible, to let them know what’s happened. Your insurance company is likely to request a police report as a condition of paying your claim.

8. Dodgy workmanship

Faulty design and workmanship can void your cover. So, come claim time, your insurance company could take a dim view of that lean-to pergola you knocked up with a few mates. It’s also a reminder of why a pre-purchase building inspection can be a good idea before you buy a home.

9. You fudged your policy details

If there’s one thing that’s almost certain to void your cover it’s being less than truthful when you take out a policy. Gilding the lily or leaving out a few key facts may lower your premiums, but it’s likely to be false economy as it can void your home insurance. Bottom line – honesty pays when it comes to insurance.

How to be sure you won’t void your cover

To know exactly what could void your home insurance, be sure to read the policy document. If there’s anything you’re not sure of, get in touch with the insurance company.

Cover image source: Pro-stock Studio/Shutterstock.com

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