Oct 01, 2014

    Is the roof over your head covered?

    AS THE old adage goes, there's no place like home.

    So keeping the roof over one's head protected with the right insurance policy is crucial, said Wee Aik Seng, HL Assurance's assistant underwriting manager.

    He recalled an incident in which a home owner found his apartment flooded with water through no fault of his own.

    "It was a four-storey walk-up private apartment and, on the fourth floor, a water pipe had burst," he said.

    "The owners of the units on the first, second and third floors also suffered because of the water seepage.

    "The second-floor owners were the worst hit because they were away.

    "When they returned two weeks later, their dining hall was as good as a swimming pool."

    The owners of the upper-level apartment partially reimbursed the owners of the second-floor unit for the damage caused.

    However, all parties could have avoided financial loss by taking out home-building insurance policies, he added.

    Home-building insurance covers the building structure, fixtures and fittings.

    Mr Wee said: "There are many unforeseen circumstances which can cause major damage to your home, and this is one way of mitigating your losses in such cases."

    Besides water damage, HL Assurance's home-building policies cover a plethora of perils, including fire, floods, vehicle-impact damage and explosions.

    They cover residential premises such as private apartments, landed property, homes under Management Corporation Strata Title and Housing Board flats under mortgage financing.

    HL Assurance, a member of the Hong Leong Group, is a relative newcomer to the insurance industry here.

    It also offers home-content insurance for those who wish to protect their personal belongings.

    Adding to its comprehensive home-building coverage, the company's policies cover the loss of rental of a property and alternative accommodation.

    This means it will pay for the reasonable additional cost of a place to stay while the home is uninhabitable as a result of damage caused by an insured event.

    "There is no need for the home owner to worry if he does not have the option to stay with friends or family," said Mr Wee.

    According to the latest figures from the Singapore Civil Defence Force, residential fires account for 59 per cent of all fires in Singapore.

    Mr Wee noted: "Big or small, should there be a fire, there will typically be financial loss for the owner.

    "Home-building insurance can really give one peace of mind in the event of such mishaps, as the reconstruction cost or reinstating of damaged fixtures is covered."

    Under the law, the management corporations of condominiums must take up a fire-damage policy to protect the estate.

    However, a home-building policy may still be needed, as this is typically a condition for taking out a mortgage.

    "Some finance companies may wish to have a second layer of protection," Mr Wee said.

    "When your unit is mortgaged to the bank as collateral for the loan, you are obliged to repair or reinstate the property if it is damaged and continue to make the loan repayments to the bank."

    Though insuring your property for the sum of rebuilding it sounds daunting, he noted that premiums for HL Assurance's policies are "very affordable".

    Premiums start from about $150 a year.

    "Our cover will always come with Personal Liability Extension and an extension for losses resulting from a break-in to the property," he said.

    For added convenience, HL Assurance - which strives to create savings for its customers by adopting a direct-buying method, thus cutting out the middleman - also allows home owners to transfer their existing policy to a new address should they move house.

    "To find out which policy best suits their needs, home owners can just give our dedicated call centre a ring," Mr Wee said.

    "We will make sure you are well-protected."