Buying a house? What you need to know about home insurance policy

Buying a house? What you need to know about home insurance policy  25th July 2019

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration. –Charles Dickens

You’ve made the big decision to purchase a dream house: reality is finally sweeter than your dreams! Congratulations.

A house is a matter of pride and a big commitment for many many years. A house is probably one of the biggest investments you will ever make: a dream you would like to protect.

While there is little we can do against natural disasters, we can reduce some of the hardships by having home insurance, which protects against any damage to the house and valuables in it.

Home insurance is poorly sold in India; People are either not aware of home insurance or are reluctant to buy it. They don’t see the risk to their property—be it fire or an act of terrorism; and of course, it always happens to other people!

A lost life cannot be regained, but a lost house can be rebuilt and it doesn’t cost much.

Here is what our Truth lens tells us:

A good policy covers for financial loss arising out of various incidents such as fire, earthquake or burglary. It covers, not only for structural damage but also for all other assets and possessions you may have, right from a rug to a refrigerator.

Here are a few things to consider:

One, the Cover

At the basic level, a standard fire and special perils policy covers your structure and possessions from fire and other dangers such as earthquakes and storms. The second level of coverage protects against burglary or breakdown of mechanical and electrical appliances. The last one protects against minimal risks such as loss of rent, loss of important documents such as title deeds and passport, and provision for alternate accommodation.

Two, the Sum Insured

While the value of your house is based on three factors - land, cost of construction for the building and prevailing real estate prices – the insurance only covers for the building’s cost of construction. Most insurers will offer a standard rate per square foot multiplied by the carpet area of your house. The rate offered also considers depreciation. Therefore, it is important to go for a reinstatement cover. This covers for rebuilding your home from scratch, assuming the worst.

Three, Compliance

If you are living in an urban high-rise, your flat alone cannot be rebuilt in case a big calamity hits the locality. It is the housing society’s responsibility to insure the entire premise. Talk to the society management and figure the kind of insurance availed of and what supplementation you need. The insurer will not cover for poor or unauthorized construction and you don’t want to be left high and dry in the event something goes wrong. Taking 2 insurance policies for the same asset will not result in double benefits! [This is based on the principle of indemnity, and the more technical oriented amongst us can click here to read more about it]

Time period: Home insurance can be bought for a minimum of one year to a maximum of five years. Do remember to renew.

Fine print: Home insurance policies are worded differently. For example, structure insurance may only be for building and not land, or only jewelry kept in the locker may be covered.

Tenants: If you are living in a rented house, you can insure only the contents and not the structure as you don’t own it.