In hard times when many Irish homeowners are stuck for cash and mortgage providers are hounding them, and also seeking evidence of their home insurance in place, some seek out the very cheapest home insurance option without assessing the content.
Unfortunately it transpires with perfect hindsight that clearly many of these policies are not fit for purpose. They may have an excessively narrow range of cover with an excessively broad range of exclusions.
The temptation for homeowners when comparing insurance quotes is to choose the cheapest policy, but this can mean buying an unsuitable policy, experts say.
Brian Brown, principal consultant for general insurance at Defaqto, said: “It is widely recognised that price plays an important role when people are comparing general insurance policies.
“However, it is important for consumers to focus on product features, and not just price, when comparing products to make sure they know exactly what they are buying. Each person’s needs and circumstances will be different and only through looking at what policies offer can people really compare products and assess what might best meet their needs.
“If people focus too heavily on price they risk buying the wrong type of insurance for their needs – and, of course, they will only discover that they are underinsured when they come to make a claim.” Mr Brown’s company produces “star ratings” for home and motor insurance to help people understand the range and level of features and benefits different products offer (www.defaqto.com/star-ratings).
He added: “We consider an extensive range of features and benefits when rating products, and do not knowingly exclude any products. Importantly, our ratings are independent of provider influence.
John Mannion of Claims Assist Ireland says: ‘All too often we are called out to look at a potential property claim to find that people have chosen their insurance cover based, not on what is covered, but by how much it costs. To give a typical example we were recently retained by the owners management company of an apartment block in Limerick City to deal with a leaking/burst pipe water damage claim. We costed the damage at €15,000 but there was an excess on the policy for escape of water of €12,500, so the insured could only recover €2,500 or less than 17% of their loss. Unfortunately they did not discuss the details of their latest policy with their broker to determine its suitability for their needs and had to suffer the consequences. At Claims Assist we always advise people to read their policies and related documentation and if in any doubt whatsoever to get further advise or clarification from their insurers, brokers or independent professionals’.