What is ‘non-standard’ home insurance?

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The term ‘non-standard’ is an adjective meaning ‘not average or usual’. So something which is essentially non-conforming with recognized practice you might say.

A good example of the facilitation of this phrase would be as follows; ‘people working non-standard hours’, which of course might perhaps best describe occupations where night or weekend working schedules are the considered norm. Basically, ‘non-standard’ refers to anything which is not widely accepted as standard practice.

Elsewhere and the expression ‘non-standard’ can also fit the description of items which might have been added to a vehicle so as to enhance performance or alter its appearance in some way; with non-standard parts and fitments always needing to be disclosed to motor insurance providers at the point of applying for policy cover.

However –and with specific regards to non-standard home insurance – this would allude to policies which are designed to cater for the coverage needs of those individuals whose properties (or indeed, their personal circumstances/histories) fall beyond the reach of traditional plans, yet obviously still require some form of legal protection to safeguard against the same sort of eventualities which could potentially affect all homeowners.

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Alternatively known as a ‘non-standard risk’ in certain buildings and household insurance circles, as we’ve already emphasized that put in its simplest terms this type of provision exists to enable would-be policyholders to obtain the legal protection that they might otherwise fail to qualify for under the umbrella of what are colloquially known as ‘standard risk’ home insurance agreements.

It really isn’t any more complicated than this to be honest!

What circumstances would fall into the remit of non-standard home insurance?

There are various circumstances and situations which the UK insurance industry use as key factors when ruling whether or not non-standard home insurance would come into play, and extend further than just the two most common examples; namely if the applicant had been previously declared bankrupt or the property in which they’re trying to insure had ever presented signs consistent with subsidence.

If these (or any of the other possibilities cited beneath) ring true then it’s imperative that you seek a dedicated non-standard home policy from a specialist provider.

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Typical non-standard home insurance risks explained:

Homes with history of flooding – Timely, given the abundance of devastating floods which have struck numerous geographical parts of the UK in recent years, yet the bad news is compounded by knowledge that those residing in certain high-risk areas will be charged significantly more for home insurance premiums to counter the destructive effects of severe floods.

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Homes which have depicted signs of subsidence – Anything which points towards the presence of subsidence, landslide or heave (or indeed, the potential for) immediately sets alarm bells ringing as far as building insurance policy providers are generally concerned.

As a direct result of this fear, premiums are upped accordingly to take stock of the potentially damaging (structurally and costly) after effects. That’s not to say that all insurers refer homeowners to non-standard policies in this case, as some will go as far as to cover subsidence under normal building insurance.

Homes which have had structural underpinnings altered/revised – If and when a property has had its foundations reinforced (for a raft of legitimate reasons), then standard home insurance will be incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to secure.

However thanks to the more specialist providers, help (in the shape of non-standard risk agreements) can be arranged via other means.

Homes used for remote-working – Properties facilitated by the owner for business use (as an address from which to effectively ‘work out of’) has to be declared to insurers, so that alternate plans and coverage can be drawn up. Although please note that this doesn’t mean those who occasionally spend a day here or there working from home.

Homes which are left unoccupied – We’re not talking about when you nip out to the shops or even go away on a short-term holiday or business trip, more with regards to extensive (and consecutive) periods, which tend to include both day and night-time un-occupancy.

This is perceived to be a non-standard risk for the simple reason that an empty property will always represent a more likely target to thieves than an occupied one.

Homes which are located within 400 metres of watercourses – It probably won’t surprise many to learn that properties close to water will have a significant impact on an insurer’s judgement call as to risk assessment. Non-standard home insurance really comes into its own in this scenario.

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Homes which have tall trees situated up close and personal – To put this threat/risk into perspective from a home insurers’ viewpoint this translates as properties which lie within 5 metres of trees which stand taller than 10 metres in height. So, only a relatively small percentage of homes are that close to trees this large for the most part, yet obviously worth talking to your insurer about if you are concerned.

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Homes with roofs which are manufactured from non-standard materials and fabrication processes – Should the roof of your property be constructed from any of the following materials, then the chances are they will fall under the jurisdiction of non-standard home insurance protocol and procedure.

These alternative materials and methods include; asbestos, corrugated iron, felt on timber, fibreglass, glass, metal, plastic, shingle, stramit, thatch reed, thatch fibre, timber, woodwork construction (or if the roof has been turnerised). Some other materials may also be considered a non-standard risk, so as always check with your insurer from the outset.

Homes with exterior walls/surrounds which are manufactured from non-standard materials – Again, not so much wattle and daub here in 2016, yet still an array of composites, raw materials and methodology which go against the grain of what’s commonly accepted by standard home insurance policy guidelines.

These systematically comprise of; brick/timber frame, timber, timber frame, timber/plastic, asbestos, cob construction, corrugated iron, ‘Essex construction’, fibreglass construction, flint, glass, metal, plastic, prefabricated building – combustible materials or non-combustible materials, stramit construction, wattle and daub construction, woodwall, woodwork construction, and some other materials (again, check with your would-be insurer).

Homeowner specific non-standard insurance considerations

This refers back to a point we made earlier, and ostensibly about any occupants who may have been declared bankrupt, refused/had terms imposed on previous insurance or have an unspent or pending criminal conviction against them.

Please note: once a criminal conviction has been spent, the customer doesn’t need to declare them (as per the Criminal Rehabilitation Act). As a result, only unspent convictions have to be declared and are considered a non-standard risk.

What do I do if my home DOES feature a non-standard risk?

Nothing, really. You can still approach the home insurance provider you were going to otherwise, who’ll quickly determine your needs.

If they aren’t in a position to offer you a policy based on your disclosures then there’ll be others who can. So it’s just a case of doing a bit of research and shopping around to find a firm that will take any/all of this into account.

Trust us when we say that home insurance cover exists for ALL situations and personal circumstances, and yes, it will probably cost you more but then with it comes the peace of mind that you and your loved ones are subsequently as safe as houses thereafter.