Fire prompts insurance warning

David Grant's festive greeting includes a warning this year.

It goes something like: Merry Christmas! Have you checked your house insurance lately?

The principal of Big Rock School, in Brighton, and his family will be spending Christmas in rental accommodation after their Abbotsford house burnt down in July - just hours after he renewed his ANZ Asset Protector Home Buildings insurance policy.

Although he did not think so at the time, he was fortunate. As part of completing his house insurance renewal in July, he selected a default sum insured amount of $2300 per sq m.

After the fire, insurance assessors found the $368,000 he had insured his house for, was not going to cover the estimated $450,000 cost of rebuilding. Mr Grant was lucky his 40sq m external garage was undamaged and included in the default amount, which meant he could divert an extra $92,000 from his garage cover to rebuilding his house.

Had more of his property been destroyed, he would have been left considerably out of pocket.

Since the fire, many people had asked about the event, and he had taken the opportunity to warn them about having sufficient insurance cover.

''I've been telling people to check their policies and make sure they understand them.

''Don't make assumptions. Make sure you've got enough cover.''

Mr Grant's advice for people to check their house insurance was echoed by ANZ Wealth general insurance head Keri Collins.

She said 85% of ANZ customers with an insurance policy who renewed recently, accepted the default sum for the rebuild costs without checking whether it was sufficient to cover them if their home was destroyed.

''As New Zealand's largest home loan provider, we're concerned that many people are still unaware of the impact of these insurance changes.''

Mrs Collins said it was also important to note the difference in insurance premiums between a sum insured amount of about $370,000 and $450,000 was $85 a year, or $1.65 a week.

''Don't think that your premium will double if your sum insurance doubles.''

Mr Grant hoped he and his family would be in their new house by March.

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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