What is Home Insurance?
Purchasing a house is a dream-come-true for most of us. While purchasing and owning a house in not an inexpensive matter, we usually don’t mind the added expense since a house is likely to be a one-time investment for most of us. Besides the money that goes into it, one also invests a significant amount of time and emotions into the house. Considering just how much meaning and cherished memories a house holds for its occupants, it is absolutely important for individuals to purchase a Comprehensive Home Insurance Policy to keep their house and its content safe from any eventuality.
A common misconception that many people have about home insurance policies is that they can only be bought by a home owner and not by tenants. In reality, a home insurance policy can be purchased by both homeowners and tenants since a home insurance policy does not only protect the physical structure or the building, but it also provides coverage for the contents inside the house, against both natural and manmade calamities.
Key Features of Home Insurance
- Most home insurance policies provide policy buyers the option to purchase an insurance cover only for the structure/building or even for the belongings inside the house.
- Home insurance policies cover liabilities arising out of damage to the house and/or its contents due to natural calamities, such as floods, fire, lightning, etc. or due to man-made reasons, such as theft, burglary, etc.
- Individuals who don’t wish to purchase a Comprehensive Home Insurance Policy can purchase a Fire Insurance policy which will provide a cover against fire and other allied perils. However, one must note that the level of coverage offered by a comprehensive insurance plan is much greater.
- Many insurers also provide policy buyers a discount for opting to insure the contents of their house, in addition to the building itself.
- Considering how many general insurance firms are offering home insurance policies to customers, one is sure to not face any hassles in finding a policy at a competitive rate.
- In addition, many insurance firms also provide add-on riders, such as a Loss of Rent Cover, Temporary Resettlement Cover, Dog Insurance Cover, etc. These riders can help enhance the level of protection that’s offered by your policy and can help you remain truly worry-free.
- The claim settlement process is quick and hassle-free in most cases. If all the documents and relevant details are submitted without delay and the insurer’s claim-settlement process is followed by the policyholder, the insurer will honour the claim and the claim settlement amount will be credited to the policyholder’s bank account in a timely manner.
Why should one buy Home Insurance?
Considering how most people spend months finalising the design of one’s dream house and years collecting the precious belongings that are to go in the house, it makes it all the more important to purchase an insurance policy to protect them. Sadly, most people forego buying home insurance since they are unaware of the many benefits that these plans offer. Some of the key reasons to purchase a home insurance plan are:
Protection against Natural Calamities: Natural calamities can strike at any point. In case of a flood, earthquake, lightning, etc., it is quite likely that the structure will suffer damages. Whether, these damages are severe or mild, a comprehensive home insurance policy can provide a cover against these natural calamities. For example, in case one lives in a low-lying area that is prone to flooding, a home insurance policy can provide the householder much needed financial assistance if the house and/or its belongings are damaged due to the flood.
Provides a Cover against Man-Made Disasters: Man-made threats can never be ruled out, even in the safest of localities. Thus, in case of theft or burglary, one can make a claim for the loss suffered.
Covers Damage/Loss of Personal Assets: A home insurance policy also provides a cover to the contents inside the house. One might have a lot of valuable assets inside one’s house including expensive furniture, antiques, jewellery, etc. In case these items are lost or damaged, one can make a claim for the same.
Covers Temporary Living Costs: In case your house has to be reconstructed or repaired, you might be required to move elsewhere. In this case, your home insurance policy will cover your rent expenses.
Choice of Policy Tenure: Home insurance policies can be purchased on a yearly basis or on a more long-term basis. Many insurers offer discounts to policy buyers who opt for long-term insurance plans. A yearly policy might be especially beneficial to individuals who rent or wish to make frequent changes to their policy cover.
Affordable Premiums: Purchasing a house and/or its contents is usually extremely expensive. It is also not easy to pay for damages that might occur to the structure or even just its belongings. Thus, it is a smart option to purchase a home insurance policy at an affordable rate and keep one’s possessions safe.
Types of Home Insurance Coverage in India
Standard Fire and Special Perils Insurance Policy: As the name suggests, this type of a policy covers any damage that might occur to the house/structure due to fire or any other allied perils, such as lightning, explosion, storms, riots malicious damage, strikes, floods, hurricane, cyclones, landslide, overflowing water tanks, pollution, bush fire, etc. This type of policy can be purchased by the house owner, shopkeepers, industrial firms, godown keepers, etc. to ensure the safety of the building.
Comprehensive Home Insurance: A comprehensive home insurance policy will provide coverage against fire and allied perils and also burglary, larceny, and theft. This type of insurance policy can provide a cover for both the structure of the building as well as the contents within the house. Contents can include personal belongings, electrical items, furniture, jewellery, and other valuables. However, you will have to declare your belongings at the time of purchasing the policy. This type of policy will provide an exhaustive coverage and it can be purchased by homeowners and tenants, alike.
Building Insurance: Policy buyers have the option to purchase a home insurance policy that will provide coverage solely to their house/flat/apartment. Building insurance can be bought for any building/house that is not of a ‘kutcha’ construction. It is important to note that under this type of insurance, the contents within the house are not covered. The sum insured for a building insurance policy is calculated according to the reconstruction value of the house/building.
Household Articles Insurance: Policy buyers can also opt to separately purchase an insurance cover only for the articles within the house. Thus, with this policy, household appliances, furniture, jewellery, clothing, equipment, etc. are all covered against loss/damage. The value for household articles are calculated according to the current market value of these items.
Public Liability Coverage: A Public Liability Policy will cover expenses that one might have to incur if they happen to suffer from injuries or accidental death in the property of a third-party. Any legal costs or expenses that one may incur due to this are also covered by this policy.
Add-Ons: Most insurance firms also offer a number of add-ons that one can purchase in order to secure a more exhaustive coverage. While the number and type of add-ons offered will vary from insurer to insurer, listed below are a few add-ons that are more commonly offered by most insurers. Some of these add-ons can only be purchased by home owners, while others can be purchased by both homeowners and tenants.
- Loss of Rent Cover
- Temporary Living Expenses Cover
- Key and Lock Replacement Cover
- ATM Withdrawal Robbery Cover
- Dog Insurance Cover
Home Insurance Exclusions
While the inclusion and exclusion criteria for each type of home insurance plan will vary based on the insurer, the number of add-ons opted for, and the plan itself, here is a list of general exclusions that will be applicable to most home insurance plans:
- Misrepresentation/misdescription/non-disclosure of important information by the policy buyer at the time of purchasing the policy.
- Any pre-existing damage to the structure or the contents.
- Manufacturing defects present in electrical/mechanical items.
- Any building/apartment that is older than 30 years or is of a ‘kutcha’-type of construction.
- Any loss/damage caused to the structure/contents due to war, invasion, etc.
- Damage caused due to nuclear contamination.
- Loss/damage caused due to general wear-and-tear that occurs with time.
- Damage occurring due to the policyholder’s own negligence.
- Loss/damage to contents that are not declared while purchasing the home insurance policy.
Benefits of Home Insurance
- A home insurance plan can provide protection to your house and the contents within the house for damages caused due to natural and manmade events.
- Policies can be purchased by tenants and house owners.
- Most home insurance policies provide policy buyers their choice of coverage. Many insurers offer a structure-only cover, contents-only cover, or a structure and contents cover. In addition, certain insurers also offer a personal accident cover, a public liability cover, etc., which will be in-built into your plan. The vast number of options can help one find their desired coverage with ease.
- A home insurance policy will continue to be active even when the policyholder is away from their city of residence, provided that such a travel is for a short duration. Thus, if you are travelling for a few days or weeks, you can do so without any worry.
- Policy buyers can also opt for their choice of policy tenure. If coverage is needed for a longer tenure, one can opt for a long-term plan. Whereas, if the coverage is only required for a short duration, an annual policy can be opted for.
- Policy buyers are entitled to receive discounts from insurers, which will reflect as a lower premium.
- Policy buyers have the added option of choosing add-on covers and riders, which can help increase the level of coverage offered by the plan.
Tips for Choosing the Best Home Insurance Policy
While there are a number of home insurance policies in the market, there are a few things that you will need to keep in mind before you purchase a policy.
Understand your Requirements: Are you a tenant who just wants a cover of your personal belongings? Or, are you a homeowner who would like to insure the structure? Insurers provide different kinds of insurance plans, and the policy buyer can opt for a suitable policy. In addition, make sure to check whether the policies that you are considering to purchase offer coverage for risks that your house is especially prone to. For example, if you live in an area that is theft-prone, get a home insurance policy covers theft and burglary. Thus, based on your needs, you can choose a policy.
Compare Policies: Research different plans that are offered by insurers in your city and compare the benefits provided by various plans. Ensure that you pick a policy that provides you with your desired coverage for an optimum premium amount.
Look into the Company’s History: Factors like how well-established the company is, the claim settlement ratio, turnaround time, online purchase and renewability options, discounts offered, etc. are important parameters to consider when purchasing a policy, and the higher a company scores on these factors, the more effective they will be as an insurer.
Consider Purchasing Add-Ons: Several insurers offer attractive add-ons to customers for an additional premium. These add-ons can help you increase your coverage. However, you must note that opting for too many add-ons can cause your premium to increase. So, ensure that you choose wisely when purchasing add-ons.
Know the Policy Terms and Conditions: Ensure that you read the policy brochure in detail or speak to an insurance advisor before you purchase the policy. It is vital that you are aware of the inclusions, exclusions, terms and conditions, etc. Only if you find everything satisfactory should you proceed to purchase the policy.
How to Apply for Home Insurance?
You can choose to apply for your home insurance policy through online or offline channels, based on which is more convenient for you.
- Purchasing a Policy through Online Channels
- While not all insurers provide customers the option to purchase their policies online, several insurers are increasingly offering this option to policy buyers. You can also choose to apply for your home insurance policy through trusted third-party sites that offer such policies. Opting to purchase an insurance policy through a third-party website will allow you to compare between different policies, in a hassle-free manner.
- Once you have found a few policies, ensure that you read through the policy brochure and are aware of the policy benefits, features, inclusions and exclusions. Post this, you will be able to narrow-down your choices based on your requirements.
- After you have decided on a plan, you can then request for a quote from the insurer. For this, you will have to key-in certain basic details, such as the age of the property, type of ownership (own-house or rented house), desired policy tenure, type of coverage, etc. Once you have provided all these details, the payable premium will be displayed to you.
- If the premium quote seems okay to you, you can go ahead and fill the insurer’s proposal form and upload any documents that are required by the insurer. The proposal form is something that every policy buyer will have to fill-up when purchasing a home insurance policy.
- Post this you can proceed to paying your premium online. Most insurers have a few different channels through which you can pay your premium, such as NEFT, ECS, etc. Thus, you can choose to pay your premium through your preferred means.
- Once the insurer receives your premium and has verified your documents, the policy document will be sent to you.
- Purchasing a Policy through Offline Channels
- If you prefer, you can also purchase the premium through the insurer’s branch directly. You can visit the insurer’s website and locate a branch that’s closest to you or you can directly walk into any branch of your preference.
- Make sure to meet with an insurance advisor and go through the brochure and the terms and conditions of the policy. If you have any doubts, you can clarify them with the advisor.
- Next, you will have to opt for a sum insured as per the reconstruction value of the house or the market value of your belongings. The insurer will decide on your premium based on a few factors. If this premium amount seems justified to you, you can purchase the policy.
- Lastly, if you are happy with the policy, you can fill-up the required forms and submit whatever documents are needed to the insurer. Post this, the policy document will be issued to you.
Top 5 Home Insurance Policies available in India
While there are several insurance firms in India that offer home insurance policies, it is vital that you first compare the key features of each plan. A few popular home insurance policies that are available for purchase in India are listed in the table below.
||HDFC ERGO Home Insurance Policy
- Covers damage/loss due to fire and other allied perils
- Covers damage/loss due to theft and burglary
|Insurer provides discounts up to 25% and also offers an added 15% discount for security fixtures
||ICICI Lombard Home Insurance
- Covers damage/loss due to natural and manmade disasters
- Policy buyers can choose a structure cover, a content cover, or both
- 25% discount upon opting for a content cover
- Up to 50% discount if one purchases a long-term policy
||My Home Insurance Policy
- Covers damages caused due to natural disasters or man-made events
- One can choose between a home/structure insurance, contents insurance, or both
|Discount up to 20% on the overall premium
|Reliance General Insurance
||Reliance Home Insurance Policy
- Covers damage caused due to natural calamities, accidents, burglary, etc.
- Provides a personal accident cover to the earning member and his/her spouse
- Policy can provide a cover to the structure and one’s personal belongings
|As per policy brochure
|The New India Assurance Co. Ltd.
- Covers damage/loss due to burglary/theft/house breaking or fire and allied perils
- Covers risks against the building and its contents
- Provides a cover for personal accidents, pedal cycles, public liability, and also provides baggage insurance
|As per policy brochure
Claim Settlement Process for Home Insurance
The very purpose of a home insurance policy is that the policy should be able to provide you a compensation in case your house and/or belongings gets damaged/lost due to an unfortunate eventuality. In order to ensure that the claim you raised is settled in timely and hassle-free manner, you will need to follow your insurer’s claim settlement process. While specific details of this process is likely to vary from insurer to insurer, the general step-by-step claim settlement process is mentioned below.
- Firstly, you will need to inform your insurer of the damage/loss as soon as it has occurred. This prior intimation will help the insurer be prepared for your claim and will also help them settle it in a timely manner. Most insurance firms have a toll-free number, and you can contact the insurer’s Customer Service team on this number and let them know.
- If the damage or loss was caused due to a home burglary or theft, it is vital that you lodge a complaint with the police, as soon as possible. At the time of handing over the necessary documents to the surveyor, you might also have to hand-over the FIR. The FIR is a guaranteed way through which you add more weightage to your claims. Also, insurers will not validate the claim unless you submit the police complaint.
- It is also equally important for you to provide the insurer with the correct information about your policy, claim, and the event itself.
- Once the insurer has received your intimation, the insurer will validate and appoint a surveyor, if required. You will need to submit all required documents to the surveyor. In most cases, you will have to submit your policy document, the Title Deed/Home Ownership Document (if it is your own house), Valuation Certificate, filled and signed claims form, and bills/invoice statements that show the original cost price (in case one’s belonging/contents were stolen/damaged).
- Once the surveyor has evaluated the case, they will send the report to the insurer’s Claims department.
- If it gets validated and approved, the insurer will then settle your claim. The claim amount will be credited to your account.
Home Insurance Frequently Asked Questions
Are tax benefits applicable on premiums paid towards a home insurance policy?
Premiums paid towards a home insurance policy are not eligible for tax benefits. However, the main goal a home insurance policy is to protect your house and your belongings against the financial implications of a damage/loss.
Will a home insurance policy cover damages that occur due to floods?
Yes, home insurance policies do cover damages that occur due to floods. Thus, if your house/building is prone to flooding, it is smart to purchase a home insurance cover against this.
Can home insurance be purchased for a vacant house or a house where no-one resides?
Houses that are unoccupied for a long duration are especially prone to damage due to natural calamities and also to theft and burglary. Thus, most insurance firms do not allow individuals to purchase a home insurance policy for a vacant house. However, if you are only taking a short trip, your home insurance policy will continue to be active during this period.
I live in my ancestral house that is decades old. Am I still eligible to purchase a home insurance policy?
Home insurance providers do not provide a risk cover for houses that are extremely old since such buildings are especially prone to damages. Various insurers have different cut-offs related to this. You will need to contact your insurer or read through the policy brochure in detail to know more information about this.
How can I reduce my payable premium?
Here are a few tips to reduce your home insurance premiums:
- Compare policies: Different insurers may offer different rates, based on their parameters. Opt for one that’s most affordable but also gives you your required coverage.
- Ask if you are eligible for discounts: Insurers provide discounts if one opts for a longer policy tenure or a more comprehensive coverage. Ask your insurer if you are eligible to avail a discount..
- Opt for add-ons wisely: Add-ons can increase the payable premium. Opt only for the add-ons that you really require.
- Opt for a more basic plan: Purchasing a basic plan as compared to a comprehensive plan will be cheaper. However, ensure that your policy covers your requirements.
- Purchase policies from the same insurer: If you are looking to also buy other policies, like a health insurance policy, life insurance policy, or a car insurance policy, make sure to ask your insurer if they provide these policies. If a customer purchases a number of policies from the same insurance firm, the insurer is likely to provide them a discount, which can help lower your premium.
Who can purchase a home insurance policy?
Home insurance policies can be purchased by both homeowners and tenants who wish to secure their house or belongings, or both.
I already have a home insurance policy. Can I switch to another insurance provider while the tenure is still going on?
Yes, you can port your home insurance policy from your existing insurer to another insurer, without losing your accrued benefits. However, you will have to communicate this to your existing insurer at the earliest.
What documents am I required to submit in order to file a home insurance policy claim?
You will have to submit the following documents:
- Filled and signed claim form
- FIR, if applicable
- All bills of repairs
- Any other documents requested by your insurance firm
I would like to purchase a comprehensive home insurance policy. How do I calculate the value of the contents inside the house?
Firstly, when you purchase a home insurance policy, you will have to declare all the belongings that you require insurance for. The value of these belongings will be calculated as per the current market value of that item. Thus, if you happen to lose a certain item that was insured, the insurer will pay you the current market value of that item after taking into account the depreciation charge.
How is the value of the structure calculated?
The value of the structure/house is calculated as per its reconstruction value. Thus, if some damage happens to the structure, the amount of money that it will take you to reconstruct/repair the damage is what will be paid by the insurer.
Is a home insurance policy useful for a tenant?
Yes, home insurance is also useful for tenants. Even as a tenant, you might have several valuables within the house. In case of a natural calamity or theft/burglary, you could risk losing/damaging these items. A home insurance policy will provide you a comprehensive cover against this.
What are the various means through which I can pay my home insurance policy premiums?
In most cases, premiums can be paid through online or offline channels. You can pay your premiums through cash/cheque/DD at the insurer’s branch, or pay it through electronic/digital channels on the insurer’s website.
What are the various factors that decide home insurance premiums?
While various insurers use different parameters to calculate the premium amount, the payable premium will usually depend on the following:
- Sum Insured
- Policy Tenure
- Built-up area of the building
- Cost of construction
- Market value of your belongings
What is the policy tenure for a home insurance policy?
Home insurance policies can be purchased for a shorter duration, i.e., 1 year, or for a longer period of time, such as 3 years or 5 years. It is advisable to purchase a long-term policy since many insurers offer discounts to customers who purchase long-term policies.
Is it safe to buy home insurance online?
Yes, it is safe to purchase a home insurance plan online. As far as the company that you choose to purchase your home insurance policy from is well-reputed, you don’t have much to worry. However, when purchasing a policy online, it is especially important that you are aware of the features, benefits, and the inclusions and exclusions of the said plan. Read through the policy brochure in detail, and make sure to contact an insurance advisor for any queries that you might have. A few benefits of purchasing insurance plans online are listed below:
Several insurers offer discounts to policy buyers who purchase policies through online channels. These discounts could in-turn translate into a lower premium.
- Policy buyers can compare between various plans available in the market, without having to physically visit different insurance firms.
- Since you won’t have to go through any middlemen or agents, you will be saving on what you would have had to pay as commission otherwise.