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Extension insurance : don’t leave yourself exposed

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Planning on adding another room? Building a patio? Extending the garage? While it may save you a few pounds in the short term to cut corners on your insurance, it is important to make sure you find the right cover for your project.

Even if you are doing a small project by yourself, you should take the right steps in getting yourself covered. Just because there aren’t builders or contractors involved doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be insured by an extended insurance policy just like any other new building.

If you are within the term of your current insurance, contact your insurer to check what the situation is with regards to the extension. Your building insurance premium will most likely increase, but don’t forget that the value of your contents may also increase – you now have extra furniture, carpets etc. While it is rarely cost effective to change insurers mid-term of a policy, you can chose to insure your extension with a different policy to that of your house. While that may mean added paper work for you, sometimes it is beneficial to use a specialist self-build insurer for the project.

If you are coming to the end of your current insurance term then ring around to find the best deal. You can often use the renewal quote from your current insurer as a bargaining point for getting a good deal.

For those bigger projects there are a number of different providers who can offer tailored cover from builder liability and damage to the existing structure right down to tool damage. These policies are good, especially if you want to hire workers to help you. The National House-Building Council (NHBC) offers a policy where it will let you work on the construction yourself while checking at various stages to make sure the work is up to standard. You can project manage the build yourself, but the NHBC recommend using a surveyor, architect or professional project manger to supervise the policy checking stages.

Depending on what policy you take you can often stay with the company after the build is completed, however if you took a different policy for your build than for your house, this can get confusing.

As with all insurance matters it is important to consider as much as possible before making a decision. Every case is different, so make sure you have taken all of your circumstances into account – taking the first option can leave you without cover and you may only realise this when it is too late. And as with all insurance, always read the entire policy and understand exactly what is and isn’t covered.