Updated: Oct 17
When buying a new or second hand home, one of last items most people think about is house insurance. Generally, buyers end up scrambling in the last few days before signing contracts to get quotes and have insurance lined up.
But many don't realise that there are some circumstances where insurance companies may refuse to offer cover, or only offer cover with very high rates.
Here are a couple of common issues which can cause issues with finding appropriate house insurance.
Properties in areas with a Flood Risk
The OPW maintain flood risk maps on flodinfo.ie. The maps will show if a property/area with a risk of flooding or if there have been past flood events. Insurance companies also have their own database of property and areas where there is a flood risk.
If the property is in an area with a risk of flooding, insurance companies may refuse to give a quote for house insurance or may only offer insurance excluding flood protection.
As Ireland has a lot of waterways, lakes and areas prone to costal flooding, this issue is more common that many people realise.
How do I find out if a property is in an area with a flood risk?
Visit floodinfo.ie and search for the property/area. Or,
A flood map is included when you get a report from HomeHunterReport.ie along with over 20 pages of other information on the property/area.
Properties with Flat Roofs
Generally speaking, flat roofs are more prone to leaking and damage, especially older roofs.
When looking for insurance quotes, the insurance company will ask what % of the roof is flat. If this is over 50%, many insurance companies will decline cover, or only offer cover with a very large premium.
Even though newer roofs are built to a higher spec than roofs from 20+ years ago and are far less likely to develop issues, many insurance companies will still consider them higher risk.
In some cases, insurance companies may ask to see the survey or may ask for a report from an engineers detailing the roof's construction and condition.
Recommendations to ensure you can get appropriate house insurance
In all cases, but especially if the property is in a flood risk area or if it has a flat roof, buyers should contact insurance companies EARLY in the sale agreed process to ensure they can get appropriate house insurance.
You don't have to activate and start paying for the policy straight away, but having a quote in place ready to go as soon as you need will ensure you don't end up delaying the signing of contracts. Or, if you are unable to get appropriate insurance and need to pull out of the sale, it will save you and the vendor weeks or even months of time.
Top Tips if you are struggling to find house insurance
Don't just take the first answer - try multiple insurance companies and brokers.
If you can not find a company willing to offer appropriate insurance, ask the estate agent to check which insurance company the vendor uses. Then contact that company - let them know that the current owner is insured with them and you want to be offered the same policy.
Make sure you FULLY read the policy. Yes, policy documents are possibly the most boring thing in the world, but you need to be sure you are fully aware of what is covered and what is not.
Remember, these are just 2 examples of issues which can cause problems with house insurance. So regardless of the property, the advise will always be to check EARLY in the sale agreed process that you can get appropriate insurance.