Want to know how to get the most out of a home insurance review? Read on to find out what to look for when comparing home and contents insurance.
Home insurance offers critical protection for one of the most valuable assets you’ll ever own — your home. Much more than just four walls and a roof, your home is just as emotionally important as it is financially, so taking out insurance cover is important.
But because there are so many different home insurance policies available in Australia, finding the right policy for your needs can be difficult. This is why it’s a great idea to read home insurance reviews.
These online home insurance reviews allow you to understand the features, exclusions, pros and cons of each policy so you can make an informed decision about cover for your home.
Compare home and contents policies
There’s plenty you need to keep an eye out for when comparing home insurance reviews, but the item at the top of the list for many people is how much the policy costs. In addition, take the following factors into consideration:
- Where do you live? The location of the property might pose more of a risk to an insurer. For example, if your home is located in an area prone to bushfires or with a high crime rate, you will likely pay a higher premium.
- How was your home built? The construction of your building can affect its ability to withstand damage, while the installation of home security systems can deter thieves and therefore lower your premiums.
- What is the excess? You can lower the cost of premiums by electing to pay a higher excess. This is the amount that you will need to pay out of pocket.
- How much does it cost? Policy costs obviously differ between insurers and also depending on the level of cover you select, but there is a range of other factors that can also affect your premiums. If you're looking for contents insurance to safeguard your valuables, most insurers will give you a discount for bundling home and contents insurance.
- Do you know what the policy actually covers? The next thing you should look for in a home insurance reviews is what is actually covered by the policy. Generally speaking, there are two types of home insurance policy available: defined event policies and accidental loss or damage policies. A defined events policy covers you against accidental loss or damage caused by incidents such as fire, storm, theft and explosion, while an accidental loss or damage policy covers all losses as long as they are accidental.
- Is the policy new for old? Once you know what’s covered, consider whether your policy offers indemnity cover or replacement cover when you make a claim. Under indemnity cover, your policy will replace the loss of your building up to its market value — e.g. taking into account factors such as depreciation. But if you have replacement cover, you’ll be covered for the true replacement cost of the home or item. A common term you will see used in insurance policies is "new for old replacement".
- Do you understand the exclusions of the policy? As you examine more insurance policies, you’ll soon realise that each policy contains a list of general exclusions. These are circumstances when an insurer will reject your claim, such as if you fail to take reasonable steps to prevent any loss or damage occurring, or if you lodge a dishonest or fraudulent claim. You’ll need to examine each policy’s list of exclusions to determine whether any of them will affect you.
- Do you understand your cover needs? You’ll need to work out how much cover you actually need. While some policies will cover you for total replacement, others will only cover your sum insured. If your sum insured is only $300,000 but the real cost to rebuild ends up being $400,000, you could end with up $100,000 out of pocket.
- Do you know the size of your property? When it comes to estimating the amount of building cover you need, most insurers are able to provide an accurate estimate of the replacement cost based on the materials your home is constructed from as well as its size. You’ll also need to check that your policy covers things like demolition, removal of debris, architects’ fees and more.
- Do you know how much cover you need? If you need to estimate the amount of contents cover you require, the best thing to do is take the time going through each room of your house and working out which items you would need to cover, as well as their replacement value.
- What kind of range does the insurer offer? The first thing you’ll need to consider when comparing any reviewing home insurance companies is the type and range of policies they offer. Do they offer standalone building insurance and contents insurance, and do they allow you to combine your building and contents cover into one insurance package? Do they specialise in home insurance or do they offer a full suite of insurance products?
- Do you know who the underwriter is? Next, look at who underwrites the insurer’s policies. When you apply for cover, the insurance underwriter assesses your level of risk and determines whether the insurer should offer you cover, as well as under what conditions that cover should be offered. Look for a policy that has been underwritten by a major insurer; one that’s backed by years of experience and a position of financial strength. You will have heard of many of these companies already, but a quick online search is an easy way to inspect an underwriter’s bona fide details before you apply for cover.
- What is the company's claim history like? Another important issue to look at is how the insurer handles claims. How are claims settled? What is the maximum amount the insurer will pay? What sort of evidence and documentation will you need to provide to support your claim? How quickly are claims processed? Look for an insurer with an impressive reputation for handling claims quickly and efficiently, and for always paying out on valid claims.
- What are the benefits and features? You’ll obviously want to take a closer look at what a policy covers. What risks are you protected against and to what level? Are extra costs, for example the removal of debris and demolition costs, included in your cover?
- Are there any optional benefits you need? Many policies will also allow you to add optional benefits to your policy for an extra cost, so which added benefits are available to you? For example, accidental damage or electrical motor burnout might be offered as options on your home insurance policy.
- Have you checked the definitions section? Make sure to familiarise yourself with your insurer’s definitions of ‘building’ and ‘contents’. You’ll need to be certain exactly what is covered by which section of a home insurance policy.
- How are premium payments made? Do you need to pay your premium in a lump sum or can you opt to pay it in instalments?
- How long is the cooling-off period? Every home insurance policy will have a cooling-off period after you purchase cover. During this period, you are able to cancel your policy and receive a full refund of any premium you have paid.
- Have you examined the exclusions? The list of general exclusions is something you should examine on any insurance policy. You don’t want to end up with an unpleasant surprise when it comes time to make a claim on your policy.
- Can you bundle and save? Many insurers will offer you sizeable savings on your insurance premiums when you bundle one or more policies together. Speak to your insurer about the multi-policy discounts that may be available to you.
- Your insurance needs. Determine the type and level of cover you need before you start shopping for a policy. Do you need building insurance, contents insurance or both? How much would you need your policy to pay out if the worst happened and you lost everything?
- Your current cover. If you already have a home insurance policy in place, consider whether it meets your needs. Are you paying for benefits you don’t need? Are you under-insured or are there gaps in your cover that need to be filled?
- Whether you can afford the premiums. While the peace of mind offered by a comprehensive home and contents insurance policy might sound very attractive, don’t bite off more than you can chew. You’ll need to work out whether or not you can afford the insurance premiums before you purchase cover.
- If you understand the fine print. Reading insurance policy documents is far from an entertaining way to spend your time, but it’s the best way to ensure that you end up with the right type and level of cover for your needs. It's a good idea to email the insurer to ask them for clarification on anything you're unsure about.
- Review your cover needs regularly. Your circumstances are changing all the time, so don’t forget to take stock of your cover requirements regularly. This could end up saving you a lot of money, as could shopping around for a better deal rather than simply automatically renewing your policy every year.
If you’re in the market for home insurance, be aware that finding the right policy can be a difficult exercise. But with the right tools at your disposal and a willingness to do your research, you should have no trouble finding a home insurance policy that satisfies all your cover needs.
While home insurance reviews can provide valuable information about an insurer, it's always wise to read more than one review. Here's why:
- What if you're just reading the opinion of one disgruntled customer? We've all seen them, reviews from current and former customer just trashing their provider. Warnings like, 'IT'S A SCAM' or 'NOT AS ADVERTISED' litter review sites. The problem is that a lot of these people didn't understand what they were getting in the first place and that misunderstanding leads to and frustration. This frustration commonly manifests itself in online reviews.
- Is that review that you're reading on the insurer's site unbiased? While these testimonials can provide some insight into the benefits of a product, you know that the company is not going to use a scathing review on their own site.
- This product has a great star rating so it must be the best, right? Ratings given by consumer reviews should only be used as a general guide. More accurate star ratings can be found on government or consumer watchdog sites.
- Who wrote that review you're reading? If you're reading a guest post, it's quite possible you're actually reading something written by the company's PR department.
- Are forums a good place to get an unbiased review? Forums can be a great starting point on your comparison journey, but just like anywhere on the Internet, you'll find more negative than positive. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience, while happy customers tell about 4-6 people about their experience.
Westpac Home Insurance
Westpac Home Insurance benefits include:
- Theft from inside, outside or away from home
- Electrical motor burnout cover
- Safety net up to 30% of sum insured for building and 20% for contents
Woolworths Home Insurance
Woolworths Home Insurance benefits include:
- $8,000 cover for outdoor contents
- $5,000 cover for home office contents
- Accidental damage cover
Budget Direct Home Insurance
Budget Direct Home Insurance benefits include:
- Accidental breakage of glass, ceramic and porcelain fixtures
- $20 million of legal liability protection
- 20% discount is available on policies purchased online.
Virgin Money Home Insurance
Virgin Money Home Insurance benefits include:
- Removal of debris
- Alternative accommodation
- $20 million of legal liability cover.
CGU Home Insurance
CGU Home Insurance cover includes:
- Accidental Damage provides cover for Listed Events
- Accidental loss or damage to your contents anywhere in Australia
- Loss or damage to your valuables is covered up to 20% of your contents sum insured or $7,500, whichever is greater (up to $2,500 per item)
Real Home Insurance
Real Home Insurance benefits include:
- 20% if you buy combined home and contents Real Home Insurance online
- Optional extras such as Motor Burnout
- Flexible payment options.
AMP Home Insurance
AMP Home Insurance provide cover benefits including:
- Multi-policy discount
- Combined home and contents discount
- Top Strata Insurance discount.
Allianz Home Insurance
Allianz Home Insurance customers can benefit from:
- Guarantee on repairs
- $5,000 maximum cover for damage to guests property
- Easy claims process
AAMI Home Insurance
AAMI Home Insurance covers events including:
- malicious acts
Chubb Home Insurance
Chubb Home Insurance benefits include:
- Multi-policy discounts
- Valuable Articles Coverage
- Emergency clothing and essential purchases.
OnePath Home Insurance
OnePath Home Insurance member benefits include:
- Multiple policies
- Loyalty discounts
- Seniors discounts.
NRMA Home Insurance
NRMA Home Insurance cover includes:
- Theft and burglary
- Malicious acts
Suncorp Home Insurance
Suncorp Home Insurance benefits include:
- Classic provides lower flexible limits for high-value items
- Extras includes higher flexible limits and 25% extra cover if required
- Advantages offers the highest flexible limits and a 30% safety net
QBE Home Insurance
QBE Home Insurance benefits include:
- Joint policy discount
- Retirees discount
- Pay your premium annually.
RACQ Home Insurance
RACQ Home Insurance member benefits include:
- Alarm discount
- Apartment discount
- Membership loyalty discount.
* The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your personal financial circumstances when comparing products.