How to keep your home insurance in check and avoid nasty surprises

Keep your home insurance in check to avoid nasty surprises

With the world outside constantly changing, the one place we should all feel safe and secure is at home.

Home insurance is a great way to give us that extra peace of mind, but it's not a set and forget situation. Many items around the house need routine checks to make sure they're operating at an optimum level that makes them worthy of home insurance.

Homeowners must ensure they're aware of the ins and outs of their insurance plan and warranties, and take precautions to avoid any nasty surprises when things go wrong.

From smoke alarms to plumbing, there are a lot of variables when it comes to your home insurance and warranty coverage. Zak Saboune, founder of plumbing and electrical specialists Service Today, lists a few things around the house you might want to keep an eye on.

Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms are essential for safety reasons, but not everyone realises that if faulty, smoke alarms can affect your home insurance too. Homeowners must regularly check and maintain working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, or risk being refused insurance and fined.

In a rental property, smoke detectors must be supplied by landlords and need to be regularly tested to ensure they're in full working order. Some landlord insurance may require these to be professionally tested, so if you're a landlord, check with your particular insurance provider to make sure you're covered.

BEEP: Make sure your smoke alarm is always working. Photos: Shutterstock.

BEEP: Make sure your smoke alarm is always working. Photos: Shutterstock.

Flooding

"Flooding is one of the biggest issues for home insurance," says Saboune. "Since some policies may only make repairs to pipes and may not cover the cosmetic damage to walls and floors, people are often caught out.

"Always check to see if items such as carpeting, flooring, or furniture are covered in your plan. If not, you may be in for an expensive shock should a flood occur," Saboune adds.

Hot water tanks

The Service Today team often encounter homes that have not serviced their hot water heaters - putting them at risk of needing a more expensive repair, or worse still, a bursting (or even exploding) hot water tank.

"Having a major service every five years is a condition of warranty for more hot water heaters, and if you skip this, the manufacturer could accuse you of neglect and refuse to repair the tank under warranty," says Saboune.

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Heating and cooling

According to Saboune, heating and cooling systems are repeat offenders. "They are most regularly overlooked when it comes to your home insurance policy, and can cause big issues if not maintained properly," he says, advising that all internal heating systems must be serviced properly on start-up, and prior to the winter build-up of dust and dirt, which could become a fire hazard.

On the other side of the temperature gauge, air conditioning systems must be serviced regularly, since poor maintenance can cause them to overwork and potentially even burn out the motors inside the system.

"You should always remember that evaporative coolers placed on the roof may leak, which could also void your insurance policy, so these need to be maintained regularly," says Saboune.

It might seem like a lot to remember, but homeowners should rest assured that as long as they hire registered professionals to do all their major checks and safety inspections, they'll generally avoid any nasty surprises should they need to claim.

After all, it's always better to be safe than sorry.