What does buildings insurance really cover?

If you're a landlord, or you're running a business from home, getting the right cover for your premises is crucial – you could lose a lot more than just your home comforts. That's why it's worth getting a decent grasp on what's covered and what isn't, before you choose the right provider.

1. Buildings insurance for landlords

What does it cover?

In general,  landlord buildings insurance  will usually cover accidental damage to or theft of:

  • the building structure itself, up to a maximum of the rebuild cost
  • permanent fixtures and fittings (such as kitchen sinks or bathroom showers) owned by the landlord
  • gates, fences, car parks, drives, pavements belonging to you or for which you are responsible

In addition, some insurance packages may also include:

  • reasonable professional fees for reinstatement or repairs to the property
  • ground rent while the property is uninhabitable, for a specified period of time (such as two years). This is important for  leaseholders  – it's the rent you pay for the land your property sits on
  • the cost of alternative accommodation while the property is uninhabitable, usually for a similar period
  • the removal of debris – if the worst happens
  • damage caused to the gardens by the emergency services

What isn't covered?

It's just as important to be aware of what buildings insurance probably won't protect you against. You may need a separate type of cover. It usually won't cover:

  • non-permanent fixtures and fittings that are considered as ‘contents’ – such as a free-standing fridge or curtains. In general, if it could reasonably be brought with you to a new location, it's considered non-permanent
  • intentional damage caused by tenants or others who have been allowed into the property
  • damage to gates and fences caused by floods, storms or collapsing trees or satellite dishes
  • damage caused by wear and tear, vermin, or faulty workmanship

2. Buildings insurance for home businesses

What does it cover?

Most insurance packages will usually offer protection against:

  • damage to the building and its permanent fixtures caused by fire, earthquakes, lightning or leaking tanks or pipes
  • malicious damage caused externally or by those unlawfully on the property
  • theft or attempted theft, including through violence or the threat of violence to you or your employees

You might also receive protection against:

  • damage to glass or sanitaryware. This could include panes of glass in doors as well as windows – and sanitaryware usually includes things like sinks and washbasins
  • accidental damage to underground pipes and cables that connect your property to the public lines
  • reasonable fees for repairs
  • removal of debris

What isn't covered?

Usually, your cover doesn't include:

  • contents  – such as computers, documents or free-standing furniture
  • any intentional damage caused by you or your employees
  • any damage caused by domestic pets, vermin or wear and tear
  • damage caused by leaking water or malicious damage – or damage to glass or sanitaryware – when your home is unoccupied

However you use your property for business, it's essential that you get yourself the right kind of insurance cover. And with a basic understanding of how buildings insurance can help you, you're well on your way. But remember: this is just a guide, and you should always check your provider's policies carefully before choosing any insurance package.

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