If you’re like most Australians, owning your own home is probably one of your most important life goals, but no one said it was going to be easy.
There’s the time, effort and research involved in finding it.
There’s the financial commitment involved in taking out your home loan.
Then there’s the endless weekends spent repairing, renovating, and generally making sure your new abode is a nice place to live.
When you think about the time, money and effort you spend, there’s little doubt your own home will be your most important investment and one of the keys to your financial independence.
But what would happen if something went wrong?
Wrong? What could possibly go wrong?
Lots could go wrong, and quickly. In some States and Territories, you’re liable for damage to the property the moment you’ve signed and exchanged sale contracts.
This includes Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.
Meanwhile, in NSW there is a grey area where the damage isn’t substantial enough to allow the purchaser to legally cancel the contract but it is still costly to repair.
That’s right, you could now be legally responsible for what happens to your new home even though you don’t yet own it and what happens there is well and truly out of your control.
Understandably, it pays to take out building and contents insurance as early as possible.
There’s also a lot that could go wrong on the day of the move.
It’s easy to leave a door open or a tap running or do something else that leads to damage to your new property, lost or stolen goods.
Life can be unintentionally expensive
It’s not until you move in and start living your life in your new home that things really start to happen (and they happen at double-speed if you have kids).
That means you’ll probably need a hand from time-to-time.
For instance, the teenage daughter of one Youi client was recently working on her uni assignment when she spilled a cup of coffee onto her laptop.
Like most uni students she’d left her assignment to the last minute and it was due that evening.
Fortunately, her quick-thinking mother called Youi immediately.
After all, she’d chosen to include accidental loss and damage cover as part of her policy, for occasions just like this.
The good news was that the claims adviser managed to lodge the claim, get appropriate quotes, assess and validate the damage and replace the laptop on the same day.
Guess what? She made her deadline.
Most damage probably won’t be the kids’ fault…
You won’t be able to blame the kids for everything, especially when it comes to the building side of building and contents insurance.
Here, the most likely events you’ll need to claim for could include natural events such as flood and water damage, as well as bushfire and hail storms.
In fact, Sydney’s 1999 hail storm was the most expensive insurance event in Australian history.
And still, sometimes the damage that your home will suffer will be caused by even more freakish events: like what happened when the opening and closing mechanism on one Youi client’s kitchen cupboard doors wore through and the cupboard door decided to close by itself…
When the door slid shut it managed to turn on a toaster that was sitting inside it.
The toaster burned the kitchen bench and cupboards right through so that there was nothing left at all.
Luckily the owner had home and contents insurance and could replace their burned-out kitchen with a brand new one.
Building insurance also often covers more run-of-mill claims, such as damage caused by escaping water, trees falling onto the roof, water damage that results from leaving the tap on when you go out, and more.
How to make an insurance claim
If, as a homeowner, you find yourself in the situation where you need to claim, the best thing you can do is gather as much relevant information about the event as possible and act quickly to contact your insurer.
That way, like the laptop example above, you’ll be able to get the speediest possible resolution and get on with living your life.
So call your insurer as soon as you can or get in touch with them online.
They’ll let you know what information they need.
They’ll also tell you whether they need to appoint a loss assessor (especially in the case of damage to your home), as well as how long the whole process should take, including when you can expect to receive any payout.
But before you do anything…
The first step should always be to work out how much insurance you need and who can offer you the best cover for this at the best price.
So compare providers directly by going to their websites or calling them.
Make sure you check what’s covered.
After all, you need to be comparing apples with apples.
This information has not taken your personal objectives, financial situations or needs into account. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, which contains full details of conditions, limitations and exclusions and consider which insurance product is appropriate to you before making any decisions about what’s right for you.