House cover and your money


The financial pressure you’ll be under if something goes wrong at home can sour your life. That’s why it’s important to choose the right house cover and know exactly what you’re covered for.


Being burgled can be costly, so check your insurance policy requirements. If an alarm system, security gates and burglar-proofing are required, the insurance company won’t pay out unless these security measures are in place.

Insurance companies usually require that your alarm is linked by a radio signal to a control room, is backed up by an armed reaction force and is monitored 24 hours a day. One of the most common reasons for insurance claims not being paid out is alarm systems that don’t work or aren’t activated. Another is expired contracts with the security company. It’s a requirement of policies that any burglary or theft be reported to the police.

Remember: Ask your security company to service your alarm system before you go away. Make sure it’s activated before your leave. Store your valuables in a safe in the house; this is often a police requirement.

Water damage

Cover for your house and contents against flood and water damage is usually standard in all policies. Unfortunately insurance companies sometimes don’t pay out. The reasons are usually poor maintenance, such as blocked gutters, damaged roof tiles that haven’t been replaced or rafters that have rotted. An insurer’s assessor will quickly pick up poor maintenance.

Remember: Check your policy to find out how much you’re covered for and how excess payments work. For adequate house contents cover your possessions must be insured for the right sum. People sometimes lower the value of their house contents to reduce their premiums, but this can end up costing you. Assume your house contents’ replacement value is R400 000, but it’s insured for only R200 000. Assume further that goods worth R50 000 are damaged. The insurer will send an assessor to do a valuation. If he finds you’re insured for only 50 per cent of the value of your possessions his company will pay out only 50 per cent of the claim. You may receive only R25 000.

Fire damage

Home owners’ insurance usually covers damage to the structure. For cover for your possessions you have to arrange separate house contents cover. Your claim may be rejected if negligence was the cause of the fire damage to your house or contents.

Remember: Check if your policy requires certain preventive measures such as a lightning conductor for your thatched roof or an electrical wiring certificate for the wiring in old houses.

Every insurance company has a deadline within which claims must be made – usually 30 days. If you don’t meet the deadline your claim may be rejected.

- Letitia Watson

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