Home insurance brokers www.insuremyhouse.ie have reported that, based on anecdotal evidence, thousands of home around the country have allowed their home insurance policies to lapse. The home insurance experts say that this was evidenced by the huge surge in the number of people trying to get home insurance quotes in the lead up to hurricane Ophelia several weeks ago.
Insuremyhouse.ie say they calls from anxious homeowners spiked to an increase of 65% as people sought to insure their property having allowed the cover to lapse in the weeks and/or months leading up to the bad weather. And now as a “big freeze” approaches Insuremyhouse.ie are urging homeowners to ensure their policies are up-to-date & to take the necessary steps to protect their homes.
Deirdre McCarthy, home insurance expert with www.insuremyhouse.ie explained the situation,
“We know that some people allow their cover to lapse but Hurricane Ophelia really flagged just how many homes were perilously uninsured. We received a flurry of calls from homeowners all over the country, including Leitrim, as soon as Met Eireann flagged the hurricane’s approach.
The level of calls corroborated something we already knew– that there are very likely thousands of homeowners throughout the country who let their home insurance cover lapse at renewal date. While some people might go a long period of time without cover, anecdotal evidence suggests most “lapsers” go without coverage for an average of 3 – 4 weeks. This might not seem like a long time, the crux of the matter is that if their property were to be damaged or burgled during this period, they would simply not be covered, and would have to foot the entirety of the repair or replacement bill themselves”.
Insuremyhouse.ie say that taking the risk of going without cover is leaving homeowners hugely financially exposed.
Ms. McCarthy continued, “A home is, for most people, the most expensive thing they’ll ever own, as well as the greatest debt they’ll ever incur. Not having your home cover up to date really does put you in a precarious position. We’ve had clients with claims of anywhere between €500 and €100,000– who have successfully received a pay out from their insurance policy. However, imagine if you had to find the same €100,000 to cover the cost of reparations to your home from your own pocket? My guess is that most people would struggle, if not find it impossible, to come up with this kind of cash.”
Insuremyhouse.ie have outlined some simple steps people can take to protect their property:
· Make sure that water pipes and water tanks in the attic are insulated with good quality lagging,
· Know where the stopcock that turns off the water is located and make sure it works.
· If a pipe bursts turn off the water at the stopcock, switch off central heating and any other water heating installations and open all taps to drain the system,
· Check the Exterior Walls of Your Home for Holes: Even small holes where cable wires or phone lines enter your home can be an entry point for freezing air. Purchase a tube of foam insulation, and close them up. Then, use weather stripping to remedy any cracks around your doors.
· Keep Your Gutters Clean: Full gutters increase your chance of having ice form on your roof, and that's not something you want to mess with! Set aside some time to clean your gutters out before the freezing temperatures get here.
· Ensure your external walls and windows are adequately water resistant – there are various products, sealants and varnishes available to do this
· If there are immediate floods warnings for your areas then it might be worth using sandbags and wrapping to protect your property
· If you live in a flood prone area it might be a good idea during more risky periods to keep personal and expensive items as high above ground level as possible
Deirdre concluded, “If you are unfortunate enough to suffer any property damage in the wake of a storm, ensure you contact your insurer immediately to initiate the claims process.
- If necessary, arrange for emergency repairs to be carried out to stop any damage getting worse.
- Where possible keep evidence of damaged goods and/or receipt everything that you replace. Photographic evidence is useful
- If you need to move out of your home while you are being repaired then alert your insurance provider of this”