Knowing exactly what cover your insurance policy provides can sometimes be daunting when policy wordings are not in plain English. Here are some simple explanations to provide some clarity on terminology.
Policy terms, conditions and endorsements
Policy endorsements are amendments that are made to your policy by the insurer which may add, remove or change the scope of cover offered. Endorsements may be used to apply specific additional terms and conditions to your policy. If you have endorsements on your policy, they may be included in a separate document or form part of your policy schedule, in either case you should take care to ensure that they are read in conjunction with the policy wording.
Building sums insured
There are three main ‘sum insured’ values: one for the building, one for its contents and one for fine art/antiques and valuables. These are the amounts you would receive if you were to lose all of your buildings, all of your contents and your fine art, antiques and valuables. Your sum insured will be higher than the combined value of rebuilding your house and replacing everything in it as it will also include the cost of rebuilding the boundaries and outbuildings, professional fees, debris removal, solicitor’s fees, securing statutory consents and any other costs involved in correctly reinstating your property. It is down to you to tell your insurer the value of the buildings and contents to be insured. You will need to consider the total rebuild value of your home, the replacement value of your contents, fine art, antiques and valuables, and any associated costs. Additional things to consider include architect fees, demolition, removal of debris and dealing with contaminated land.
When it comes to the buildings sum insured, remember that it is not the same as its market value. It is the cost to rebuild your home from scratch using appropriate methods and materials as specified by your conservation officer, which will vary depending on its age, size, construction and location.
‘Standard’ construction generally refers to properties with brick cavity walls, concrete floors and tiled roofs. ‘Non-standard’ construction refers to a building which is constructed of anything other than the materials listed previously (such as historical timber framing, cob, stone and traditional brickwork). These tend to require specialist skills which are often more costly and time-consuming. Your insurance policy must be designed to cover the use of such skills should the property need to be repaired or reinstated.
Unauthorised work means that work has taken place to the listed property without the correct Listed Building Consent being in place. This is illegal and failure to obtain consent before altering a listed building may result in a fine or even a term of imprisonment. If a previous owner made alterations to your building without consent, the local planning authority may require you to reverse those alterations at your own cost. When you are buying a listed building you should always ensure you make suitable searches in order to make sure that all alterations have the correct consent.
Curtilage is the area of land around a listed building which is ancillary to it. If your property is situated within the curtilage of or attached to a listed building it may also be listed. If this is the case, you will require listed building insurance even if your home does not have a listing of its own.