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On the property ladder? Make sure your maintenance is up to scratch!

Homeowners could be misinterpreting their insurance and not understanding exactly what their homes are insured for. The main misconception seems to be the belief that you are able to claim even if the cause of a fire, water damage or some other catastrophic event was a lack of maintenance. This is simply not the case. Most policies will include a "taking care of your property" condition stating all reasonable precautions should be taken to avoid injury, loss or damage and that it is the policyholder's responsibility to maintain the insured property in good repair.

Some 58% of homeowners believed they could claim for fire damage, even if the cause was an unswept chimney – but this is not necessarily the case at all. 53% also believed that a fire caused by old or faulty wiring would be covered by their home insurance – again this is wrong and the claim could be rejected.

Maintaining your property is key. Not only is your home probably the single most expensive item you will ever purchase and a huge commitment, it is also the haven most of us retreat to. In a recent survey, 61% of people thought they could claim on their home insurance if a wall or ceiling collapsed even if they were neglected and had cracks in them or other structural issues which had failed to be repaired.

Gardeners need to beware too as 21% of people were amazed to learn that they couldn't claim if their walls or brickwork were damaged by climbing plants becoming rampant. Existing cracks and subsidence MUST be reported to your insurers when you approach them for a quote. Some people believe it is better not to admit to these for fear of having to pay larger premiums or being rejected for insurance in the future. If the cracks are as a result of serious problems then it is almost certain that your premium will rise – although your existing insurer is usually obliged to keep offering you cover.

Hiding any substantial changes to your property might lead to a claim being rejected in the future. If you suspect your property may have a problem then seek professional advice from a builder or building surveyor and then make a decision from there as to how you are going to proceed. Don't ignore any problems as they will only get worse and it is usually cheaper to deal with these as soon as they appear. Keep your insurers advised of any relevant problems. Well over half of people taking part in the survey also wrongly assumed that their insurance will pay out for all weather related claims regardless of the cause – but in actual fact, with some insurers, those which were caused by a lack of maintenance will not be settled. A quarter of all homeowners have suffered some sort of damage from flooding, strong gales or snow and these include events such as collapsed roofs and guttering. However, 31% have not checked the state of the roofs in five years and 11% have never checked their roofs at all! 59% have not checked their gutters in the past three years and 24% have never cleaned them!

Maintenance is vital – make sure your property is as well maintained as possible and remember that prevention is better than cure! Should the worst happen and you do need to make an insurance claim, you will want to know you have the right level of cover from a professional company. All properties are different, and comparison sites are not always equipped to ask the right type of questions to evaluate which insurance will be suitable. At Westhill Insurance Services our professional team will be able to find the right insurance to suit your property – and if it is on a flood plain, or has subsidence, we are able to help with this also. Listed buildings are a speciality of ours – as are timber built properties. Whatever your home insurance needs, we can help. One call to our friendly advisors will ensure you are offered the best possible deal to suit your pocket, and your needs. Don't compromise – take care of your property and we will take care of you!

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 13th January, 2013