Why you should check the finer details of your home and contents insurance

Last week, I read an article in YourLifeChoices dealing with home and contents insurance. I’ve had a recent claim following a flooding event caused by a faulty washing machine, defined by the insurer as ‘ escape of liquid’. I’m sharing my experience here for the benefit of others.

I believe in the importance and principles of insurance, though I do not have faith in insurance companies.

Water flowed continuously from the washing machine for over 14 hours – flooding every room, destroying carpets and furniture. I consequently lodged a claim.

The processes have been frustrating, creating anxiety and depression. A number of issues arose, including temporary accommodation, replacement of items and coverage of items.

My policy is with a well-known insurance company that markets itself to over-50s, though, of course, we are not one heterogeneous group.

My dealings with this company have been very poor. I list my issues so you can check your policy and be aware of the ‘hiccups’ that have caused me grief.

First, the washing machine wasn’t covered. I had cover for electrical items, but a policy exclusion will not pay for an appliance that caused the event. I had to replace the machine – a big cost for many pensioners and retirees.

As part of the claim, I had to engage a service technician to assess the machine. Although I was later reimbursed, I had to pay the fee upfront.

Second, there was an excess on the policy. This had to be paid upfront also, rather than have the claim reduced by that amount. Such a sum is not readily available to all of us, particularly at a time of spiralling costs.

I required temporary accommodation. Under my policy that sum is limited to 10 per cent of the policy insurance amount. This is something readers should consider in their own cover as many may assume it’s there for as long as necessary.

I had a higher level of cover at $120,000; many members may have less than that figure. In the current accommodation market, it doesn’t take long to reach that limit. Imagine the consequences for a person with $50,000 or lower cover.

The next issue was around valuations. The insurer, in assessing my claim, applied low valuations to everything. They valued shoes at $100, pillows at $30. I had memory foam pillows due to a range of musculoskeletal conditions.

Please, when making a claim, read the assessment of the company carefully. You can challenge low valuations. Don’t forget too, to factor in delivery and assembly fees. I had assumed a number of the valuations to be right, until I went shopping for replacement items.

Often too, with a claim, the insurer may have its own suppliers. You do not have to accept their suppliers. I had this with carpet. The insurance company has an arrangement with Harvey Norman to replace floor coverings. This can give some savings, as they get bulk deals.

After being in temporary accommodation for a while, the insurer determined that my home was habitable as a new bed and mattress have been delivered. I still have mould issues, which I am waiting to treat, and in my view the house is not habitable.

I raise these issues, because I think our cohort is vulnerable and many would be caught out in insurance claims.

Please look at your own insurance policies, check exclusions, definitions and items such as accommodation. Look at the assessor’s valuations carefully.

It’s not until you claim that the problems become evident.

How well do you believe you know the finer details of your house and contents? Share your thoughts and warnings in the comments section below.

Also read: Surprising things not covered by contents insurance


  1. I had a smallish claim about 3 years ago for food lost during electrical failure for several days. Contents insurer (a big bank) would only pay a bit over half of what I claimed, then told me this paltry pay out amount, $750, would increase my premium by $250 per year for the next 3 years. In effect they were going to get even as quickly as possible. I changed insurers the following year.

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