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Home Contents Insurance

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As some are aware, I live on a private retirement estate of 15 houses where we are all shareholders of the Management Company.  I am Director of the company – an unpaid voluntary position I might add.

Hence, within the limits of covenants, we set our own rules, and the monthly service charge, which covers the estate’s upkeep.


This includes :-
Basic buildings and contents insurance for all residents
Maintenance of the communal grounds and resident’s gardens
Exterior Maintenance of all resident’s buildings and garden fences (which are freehold and not leasehold)
Window Cleaning
Road maintenance, drains and lighting
Compliance with regulatory laws
Emergency monitoring system in each property
Fire and safety inspections
Retirement advice service.


For this we each pay a monthly service charge – currently £135 per month. It falls on me to monitor the accounts and recommend any necessary change in the annual service charge which all shareholders (residents) vote on at the AGM. In the 5 years I have been the Director I have been able to cut our costs by more than £5,000 per year and thus avoid any increase in the service charge.


Over the same period, a block of 60 retirement apartments next to our road, have increased their service charge from £280 per month in 2013 to a current £550 per month for each apartment. They are managed by a private Management Company who are in it to make a profit. Beware rushing into a retirement apartment such as Churchill, McCarthy and Stone etc – there are lots of them – without looking into service charges and apartment sale implications. Some charge 10% of the sales value if you sell your apartment.


Recently, one of our residents lost her designer spectacles in a shopping centre. She made a claim on the contents insurance which was denied, because the standard cover was for goods and personal effects in the home – and not away from home.

It is a widespread misconception that taking out a contents policy covers you for all your stuff whether it is in the home or away from home. It may be in the small print of your policy that cover is only for damage and losses in the home – but all too many of us gloss over the fine print and find out the limits the hard way when we make a claim and get it rejected.


Recommendation : Take out the “away from home” option offered by insurers if you want to cover your stuff and valuables you carry with you when you are not at home. 


Another contentious issue is stuff purchased as part of a set – or a pair. Most policies treat these items individually. For example – put on weight over Christmas and a dining chair sustains serious damage, which is part of the dining suite. The insurers standard cover will provide compensation for the chair you wrecked but not for the complete suite, even though you finish up with a new chair that does not match the others.


I am losing my hearing and have to use some high-end hearing aids. I have a professional friend who has his own business as an audiologist and who fixed me up with aids  worth £5,500 for the cost price of £3,200. I have them insured for what I paid.  

However – my policy clearly states that if I lose one item of a pair – the insurance covers only the one you lose. The problem for me is that my hearing aids have now been superseded by a new model that is incompatible with my existing aids. This is because my aids have Bluetooth and can connect directly to the TV, mobile phone and each other. New aids now use a different version of Bluetooth and are incompatible with my current aids. Hence - if I lose one aid, I would have to buy a new pair.

Fortunately, I rumbled this problem when I last renewed our insurance and took it up with the insurers. They confirmed (in writing) that they make an exception when a pair of items are treated as a pair if the replacement of one would not be compatible with the other.


Recommendation : Read the fine print and check what you are covered for, with sets and pairs.


In fact - read the fine print again anyway - you may well find that you are not as well protected as you thought.


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Pops - I believe that is an American site where it is possibly the case that home insurance covers the building and its contents - excluding personal effects. When I lived in Richmond Virginia in 1994 I rented a house for 12 months but had to take out home insurance for the building and its contents (furniture etc). No personal effects were included. 


Most home contents policies in the UK provide some cover for valuables and personal effects - but usually for a minimal amount

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Our home insurance policy includes personal effects removed from the home, up to a maximum figure as agreed.

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Alan Ho - Just a thought, have you thought about a joint approach for Central Heating cover on your 15 houses ?

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Tried that Boris - but in was a non starter - too many of my inmates worship British Gas and will not change.


I have even tried to get them to come off Brit Gas standard tariffs for gas and electricity - but with only one success - who saved herself £320 per year.


I am the poor relation in our road - some of the residents have downsized from big houses worth a million - plus minus a couple of hundred and can't be bothered to save a few bob. They just want a quiet, easy life and be looked after - and who can blame them if they can afford it.  Our neighbour Keith who was in his eighties and as fit as a flea decided a few months ago to move into a local care home while still  healthy and full of life. He lost his wife 3 years ago, was lonely and craved companionship.

He has a nice and fairly roomy 1 bedroom apartment with a small kitchen. He decided he didn't want to do any catering so he went for the package which included 3 meals a day costing him roughly £6,000 per month. (£72,000 per year). If and when he needs nursing care - that will cost extra depending on the level of care required. Hence, at present, he is getting the equivalent of full board in a 4 star hotel but with a larger room and all his washing done (except ironing) and familiar faces in the lounge and restaurant.  The downside is that there are a lot of very ill and disabled people living there - I think I might get depressed at seeing my possible future day after day.


He was lucky - 2 months after he moved in - the Quality Care Commission condemned their dementia care wing and the home was taken over by the Avery Care Home Group and completely modernised.


I visit him regularly and am quite impressed with the place. Oh to be able to afford it.




You can see a side view of Keith in the video - he is on the left, having a little cough while talking to one of the staff.

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