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The Role of Surveyors in Household Buildings Insurance
To ensure that the buildings insurance sum insured is based on the rebuilding cost, generally a surveyor will have inspected the property before it has been purchased and they will estimate the rebuilding cost.
If this is not the case, insurers will usually provide potential buildings insurance customer with a rebuilding cost table prepared by professional Surveyors. This assists the customer in calculating a sum insured. Applicants will also be reminded that any special features (high quality fittings for example) should be taken into account in fixing the sum insured.
However, if the buildings insurance risk is high or there is any concern or additional information required prior to the underwriters accepting the risk, the insurers may require a survey to be carried out to ensure that the appropriate premium is charged and to prevent underinsurance. As with all other building insurance, to maintain an appropriate value on the property, the sum insured will continue to be index-linked in order that it keeps in line with inflation and rebuilding costs.
The surveyor will consider various aspects when they attend the buildings insurance customer's property, depending upon what is being insured, for example:
• The location of the buildings insurance risk address.
• Does the customer or any of the household work from home? If not, the home will be unoccupied during the day which increases the theft risk.
• The ages of the customer(s). Some insurers offer a discount for people age 45 upwards.
• Type of property and where it is situated. For example, a large detached house in its own gardens presents an increased theft risk as thieves can often gain entry to a property without being seen and can work without being disturbed. Conversely, a property in a terraced street may be considered a lower risk.
• Who lives in the property? If it is tenanted the theft risk exposure is increased.
• Are security protections adequate? If they are not, the surveyor will make a number of recommendations which the customer will be expected to fulfill if they are to be fully insured.
• Are there any previous losses detailed on the application form? The surveyor may identify during the survey that some have been omitted.
• Is there other property that requires insuring under contents or personal possession's? The surveyor will make recommendations to both the customer and the insurer what course of action is required in such circumstances.
After the survey the surveyor will make specific security recommendations to help minimize the buildings insurance risk and make it more acceptable to the underwriters to allow them to provide cover.
Many insurers have an internal policy of requiring the surveyor to visit any premises where the customer has notified them of a claim resulting from a break-in at their property. A new survey report will be completed and security measures will be recommended. The underwriters will then consider whether the buildings insurance risk has increased, and if it has, what action is required to be taken. For example, should the customer's renewal request be declined next time? Does the buildings insurance premium need to be increased or would the introduction of enhanced security measures be sufficient?