As a single flat in a block, getting renovation specific insurance might seem slightly more complicated but it is certainly possible and in fact all the more important as there are other homeowners who will be affected should there be a considerable claim (such as a fire caused by works).
If you are looking to do significant works to your flat the most important thing to do before starting is to contact the insurer/broker who provides the insurance for the freehold.
- Existing cover
Depending on insurers and the value of the work that you are carrying out, the current policy may cover you for the works. It is important to ensure that the insurers will continue to provide full cover on the property and not reduce this to FLEEA only (fire, lightning, earthquake, explosion and aircraft) as you will then be exposing the whole building to risk.
- Details of the work
The insurer will need to know the details of the work, the contract that is in place (e.g. JCT Minor Works) and if this is in joint names. Insurers may look to charge an additional premium to provide this extra cover during the works and normally it is the case that the flat undertaking the work pays for the additional costs for the duration of the work.
- Value of the work
If the works are particularly high value and the current insurers are not able to provide cover for this within the policy, then the whole building should be moved onto a specific renovation insurance policy. This ensures that the building continues to have full All Risks cover on it for the duration of the works – including cover for any damage as a result of the works – and means that the rest of the flats within the building still have full cover as before.
- Rebuild value
Once the works are complete, the policy would then move back onto a standard buildings insurance policy – but remember that the rebuild value (i.e. the cost to rebuild the property in the event of total loss) is likely to have changed as a result of the works so we would recommend having the property valued again post works to make sure this amount is correct.
Example: When undertaking works on a ground floor/basement flat in a block, it is important to ensure that sufficient protection is in place for the Party Wall (neighbouring) properties, but also for the block of flats itself.
In some Non-negligence covers, the property undertaking work is excluded but in a block all the other flats could be considered as ‘party wall’ and thus it is even more important to have this cover in place. It means that if there is any damage to another flat in the building, such as the top floor, due to the work – and this is not as a result of negligence by a professional such as architect, surveyor etc – you as the property owner and person carrying out the works are responsible for fixing/paying for any damages. This is particularly important if there is any excavating or structural work involved, however, regardless of where your flat is placed in a block, non-negligent party wall cover should be considered.
Undertaking work as a flat within a building doesn’t mean that you can’t take out specific renovations cover – in fact, it is probably all the more important that you do ensure the correct and most comprehensive insurance is in place as it’s not just your flat that is at risk but the entire building. It is worth investigating the insurance options prior to carrying out work to make sure that the right cover is in place as works start and that the freeholders of the property are on board and understand the cover provided.