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Far too many South Africans are unaware of the benefits and generally low cost of insuring your home contents.

Home owners are obliged to engage in having structural insurance, and often choose to simply add-on contents insurance as a bundle. However, tenants residing in rented out houses or units overlook this vital component of insuring their belongings, under the false pretence and hope that the owner’s insurance will cover any losses experienced while they are residing here.

We must understand the difference between household contents and structural insurance:

What Is Structural Insurance?

Structural or building insurance covers the actual structure – the brick and plaster house itself. Benefits may include the rebuilding of the home in the case of natural disasters, alternative accommodation. Some building insurance goes so far as to covers permanently fitted glass in the even it is damaged. More often as well is the coverage of a burst geyser. Structural repairs associated with any normal wear and tear can also be included.

What is Home Content Insurance?

Home content insurance differs greatly to structural insurance; home contents covers your clothing, appliances, jewellery (some insurers do not cover this, though), furniture as well as specified minor items- housed within the building you are insured for. This type of insurance covers you in the event of theft and fire.

Home Contents Insurance is absolutely crucial for both home owners as well as those who are renting.

Too many tenants think (mistakenly) the owners structural insurance will cover them in any event; this is not the case! If your block of flats burns down, yes, the owner should be covered to allow for rebuilding of the unit with accessories etc., but it will not cover your losses.

How Are Home Content Insurance Premiums Calculated?

Just like car insurance, your monthly rates for home insurance are calculated on a few deciding factors:

  • What material is the house built from – expect to pay a higher premium if your house is built from wood. Brick and plaster is the cheapest to insure, as it is the cheapest material to replace and poses the least threat.
  • Which area are you situated in? Area’s with a higher crime rate, or closer to spaces that pose natural disasters (think beach front or close to a wooded area) will impose a higher monthly rate, because of the possible risk. Boomed off area’s or guarded area’s will come at a cheaper rate.
  • Do you have security gates and burglar bars? By adding barrier protection, you’re already reducing the risk of theft and break-in’s, which makes insurers happy. Happy insurers charge less!
  • Has the property been burgled or damaged recently? This will let the insurer know how much of a risk you already pose.
  • How long have you lived there? Having lived on one property for longer means you’ve likely gotten to know the areas the neighbours and the possible threats. A shorter period means neither you, nor your insurer, is entirely aware of possible threats.
  • What all will you be insuring? By choosing to insure more or less items, your monthly premium will change accordingly. Make sure you are not over or under insured, though!
  • Have you already insured your car through this insurer? You can typically expect a cheaper premium if you bundle your car and home insurance with the same company.

While these are the most typical criteria to base your risk profile off, other things may be taken into consideration when doing your quote with any insurer. Make sure you are upfront and honest from the beginning, as failure to disclose anything could allow the insurer to deny paying out future claims.