Nearly 40% of Homeowners Can’t Answer Home Insurance Questions Accurately. Can You? | Bobatoo

Find out how failing to answer your home insurance questions correctly could affect you and your policy…

A confused man on his laptop unsure what answers to give

July 15, 2021

Can you honestly say that every time you renew your home insurance policy or switch providers to get a cheaper quote, you give accurate information about your property to your insurer?

A recent study carried out by Compare the Market has discovered that around 37% of people with a home insurance policy admit to being unable to answer all questions regarding their home accurately during the application process for a policy.

This means that many homeowners in the UK could either be paying more than necessary for cover or invalidating their policy, meaning that they’ll struggle to make a successful claim if they ever needed to.

Having said this, Compare the Market’s research found that 83% know that failure to provide the correct details could prevent them from being able to make a claim.

What details are homeowners getting wrong?

Here are the main details that home insurance policyholders find difficult to answer correctly during the application process for cover (according to Compare the Market’s study):

Door locks

Almost 30% of homeowners don’t check to make sure that the locks they have on their doors meet the minimum safety standards.

With most insurers, their minimum standards of security include the following:

  • Any windows that are easily accessible from the ground level or without the use of a ladder must have key-operated locks.
  • The main door that you use to leave your home must have a certified British Standard lock (BS8621) or a multi-point locking system (minimum of 3 lock points).
  • Every time you leave your home, all locks and security devices must be in operation and any keys should be hidden away so that thieves cannot see them.
  • If you have external sliding doors, they must be secured with an anti-lift device and another type of lock.
  • External double doors (including those on a garage, etc) must have a secure locking system: the first and second door must each have specified locks.
  • Your garage or any other outside building must be fitted with a key-operated lock or locking system.
  • You must ensure that all windows and doors are locked securely before going to bed every night.

Each insurer has differing terms and conditions, however, so it’s really important to check with your insurance company regarding any specifics so that you know the situations in which your policy could be void (i.e. what you are and are not covered for).

Some insurers will clearly state that if your locks do not meet their standards, you must be sure to fit any necessary security devices or locks within 30 days of the policy starting. If you’re unsure, simply ask them to prevent voiding your policy.

Rebuild cost

Just under 20% of home cover policyholders feel confident when providing a price for the cost to rebuild their home in the event that it was completely destroyed.

How to find out how much it would cost to rebuild your house

There are two ways in which you can calculate the rebuild cost of your home:

  1. Use the calculator provided by the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS)
  2. Contact a chartered surveyor to help calculate it professionally for you - Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

The above applies to standard houses that are made of brick; if your home was built using non-standard materials, it has special features or it is a listed building, you will need to speak to a chartered surveyor for professional, specialist advice.

Recently bought your home? If so, the cost to rebuild your property will be stated on your mortgage valuation documents or deeds.

The rebuild cost you are given includes the cost of labour and materials to rebuild your home in the event of a disaster, which usually works out lower than the sale price or market value of your house.

Flooding

Around 40% of homeowners don’t know if their house is within 400 meters of water, and according to onehome.org, 1 in 6 properties across the UK are at high risk of flooding - 60% of people living in those properties don’t even know that their home is at high risk and haven’t put any preventative measures in place to protect it.

If you’re unsure how far your home is away from water, you can contact a professional surveyor to help get professional advice or visit the GOV.UK website (there are separate sites for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).

Roof

A little over 30% of policyholders cannot provide correct information regarding how much percentage of their roof is flat.

How to work out flat roof percentage

If you’re unsure what percentage of your roof is flat, a surveyor can help you out with this too. 

According to Money Super Market, you could also look at any previous surveys you’ve had done to find out this information, such as when you first purchased your home. It also suggests using Google Earth to look at your property from a bird’s-eye view, which can also help you work out what percentage of the roof is flat.

It’s important to be accurate with this because most home insurers will only cover you if your property has a roof that’s less than 25% flat. If your roof is more than 20% flat, you’re going to need a more specialist, tailored policy.

External walls

As much as 43% don’t know what material the walls outside of their home are made of. Again, a professional surveyor can help you determine this and it should also say on the initial survey report that you were given when you first bought it.

In the majority of cases, however, homeowners can tell simply by looking at their exterior walls - or by asking a local construction expert to identify the type of material.

According to Compare the Market, around 50% of home insurance claims occur due to fire, flooding and subsidence, so it’s important to get these details spot on to avoid potentially having to pay extortionate costs yourself if the worst should ever happen.

Rejected and disputed home insurance claims

If there is incorrect information on your home insurance policy and you needed to make a claim for damage or theft, for example, your insurance company may dispute it, in which case you may not receive the full amount of compensation or your claim may even be rejected altogether, meaning you'll have to fork out for the costs yourself, which can be extortionate.

Compare the Market found that 27% of policyholders face disputes when making a claim and in half of these cases, their claim has been completely rejected.

Head of home insurance at Compare the Market has said:

"Answering questions to get a quote may seem trivial and time-consuming but giving accurate information can be critical to ensure your insurer compensates you if you need to make a claim.

For any questions you are unsure of, it's worth taking a few minutes to check or speaking to an expert. The cost of double-checking is far lower than the stress and expense of having a claim refused because you've rushed filling in a quote."

Important things to consider when taking out a policy or renewing your existing cover

If you need to get a home insurance policy, we always recommend comparing a range of quotes online in order to get the best price, but while getting a cheap policy is great for your pocket, you must make sure it provides sufficient coverage and that you are aware of any exclusions.

Similarly, when your home insurance policy is due to be renewed, you should compare quotes around 1 month before it’s due to auto-renew to avoid overpaying for cover.

When you do have cover, it’s important to bear in mind that the following can invalidate your policy (so you won’t be able to make a claim if any apply to you):

  • Failure to mention any changes to your home, including renovations and additions (even cat flaps!)
  • Letting someone live in part of your home
  • Sharing holiday photos online while you’re away
  • Failure to call emergency services within 24 hour of a break-in or damage that you want to claim for
  • You’ve left your home unoccupied for over 30 days
  • You damage part(s) of the house while doing DIY (accidental damage - this isn’t usually covered but you may be able to pay extra if you want it)
  • Leaving spare keys in places outside (no matter how obvious or well-hidden)
  • Lying during the application process

For more information about how your policy could be invalidated, check out our guide: What can invalidate your home insurance?

For even more home insurance advice and tips, be sure to read our related guides below. To get a home insurance quote to see how much you could be saving on cover, simply tap the button to get started with Bobatoo today:

Get a Quote

Related guides