AMI insurance

Don’t cry over spilt paint

39 Norfolk Street

Most Kiwis love getting stuck in to some home improvements, but before anyone picks up a hammer it pays to contact your insurer and talk to them about any changes you’re planning to make.

If you’re renovating there are limits to what your house policy can cover. Your insurer can tell you whether your house policy will cover you if something goes wrong and if there’s anything more you need to do to ensure your home is protected.

Generally speaking, if you’re doing renovations that will structurally change your home it’s usually not covered by your house policy because it’s an increased risk. After all your house is more likely to be affected by storm damage if your roof is off.

Your insurer can help you understand what’s considered a structural change that affects your insurance and what isn’t. For example, if you’re renovating your kitchen you might be doing a couple of things termed ‘structural’ but your insurer might not think the risk is so great. Other jobs like repainting a room or fitting a new carpet wouldn’t be considered a structural change and so wouldn’t require extra insurance. If for example you have a spillage while painting, that would likely be covered under your house insurance. The important thing is to ask your insurer in advance.

If the risk of what you’re doing is big enough, your insurer will probably advise you to get a separate Contract Works policy. This type of insurance will cover you for accidental loss or damage to your house while renovating.

Here are some common renovations and suggestions of what insurance you should consider before getting started:

Project Contract works insurance required?
Installing a new roof. yes
Replacing piles or upgrading foundations. yes
Removing or replacing a chimney. Probably – check with your insurer
Repainting a room. no
Adding a window or French doors. Maybe – a change like this may disturb the ‘skin’ of the house so there might be risks to discuss.
Replacing a carpet. no
Other cosmetic DIY such as putting up a shelf. no

Why it’s important to have contract works in place

You’re painting around the house and remove a sash window, so you can take it out and clean it up. Before you’ve had the chance to replace it you get called away and it rains, wetting your carpet inside the house. If you try to make a claim you may find it gets rejected if you hadn’t checked with your insurer that you had the right insurance in place.

Fitting a new deck may seem like the ideal way to spruce up your outdoor area and while this kind of work probably won’t put the rest of your house at risk, it’s worth knowing that while it’s being built the deck and maybe the surrounding area mightn’t be covered by your house insurance policy. That’s where having contract works insurance comes into play.

Find out more about contract works insurance and what it covers you for.

Hired help

If you’re hiring contractors to help with your renovations it’s important to check what insurance cover they have.  While insurance won’t cover faulty design or workmanship, it may cover the damage that results from it.  For example, it’s a hot day and a tiler is working on a house, using a particular solvent which ends up evaporating, turning into gas and settling on all the fixture, fittings and appliances. Later on the owners come home, once the house has cooled, and find themselves glued to pretty much everything they touch. Something like this could cost a quarter of a million dollars. Luckily the tiler had liability cover which took care of the issue for them.

When you’ve finished your renovations

You’ve finished your home improvements and your house is looking great! Now’s the time to make sure you’ve got adequate house insurance and your sum insured is up to date to include any additions you’ve made.

At the same time check to see if you still have the right level of contents cover. Normally when you do renovations you like to buy new things to go with it, so it’s also a good time to make sure your contents cover is up to date.