Home Insurance claims - am I covered?

Claiming for damage to your home

Every Home Insurance claim is unique and based on individual circumstances. While it’s essential that you read and understand the terms and conditions in the Product Disclosure Statement of your SGIC Home Insurance policy, we understand there are often questions over damage for which we will not provide insurance cover.

In order to make sure you get the most out of your policy, here are some of the common queries we get about Home Insurance cover and some easy to understand guidelines.

There are also tips about how to maintain your property so that the risk of damage or having to make a claim is made less likely.

Home Insurance provides cover for unexpected events that are outside of your control. It’s not designed to cover damage that could be avoided by regular maintenance.

An example of this is roof damage. If your roof hasn’t been reasonably maintained and this has contributed to the damage you want to claim for, you might not be covered.

Tips:

As part of your regular maintenance, especially before storm season between October and March, you should regularly:

  • Look for any loose tiles, or light that may be coming through inside the roof space
  • Check your roof, especially after hail storms
  • Clean your gutters and downpipes - make sure they’re free of anything blocking them
  • Check gutter guards if you have them, and keep them clear

If you’re not sure, ask a roofing specialist to help you.

Small water leaks around your shower, bath or toilet may not seem like a significant issue - but they can become one. That water has to go somewhere - usually into your floors and walls causing deterioration over time.

If you’re claiming for damage caused by seals that haven’t been maintained, you might not be covered.

Walls and basements are usually protected from leaks by a waterproof membrane within the wall. If there’s a leak, it may be caused by deterioration of these membranes. If you want to claim for damage caused by leaking membranes that haven’t been maintained properly the claim might not be covered.

Tips:

  • Regularly check your seals and membranes for signs of deterioration and replace/repair when needed
  • If there are patches of water or dampness, work out where they’ve come from and make the repairs
  • Always repair a water leak with a waterproof sealant

If you’re not sure, ask a building specialist to help you.

Rust, corrosion and wet or dry rot can mean that you have too much moisture in your home. It’s important to fix these issues as they come up.

Your claim might not be covered if regular maintenance hasn’t been carried out.

Tips:

  • Set up a regular maintenance program for your property
  • Look out for signs of excess moisture – for example, mould, water stains, rust and bubbling paint or wallpaper
  • Find the cause of the excess moisture    

If you’re not sure, ask a building specialist to help you.

You’re covered for damage caused by the impact of trees to your home, but not damage caused by tree roots or removal of trees. If trees are not checked regularly and cause damage because they’re diseased, then you might not be covered.

Neighbours trees
Trees that are blown over in storms onto your property, due to strong winds and rain softened soil, are not the responsibility of the tree owner. So you’ll need to claim on your policy.

Checking trees
It’s important to regularly check for sick or dying trees on your property to prevent damage.

Tips:

Sick or dying trees show a number of symptoms:

  • Poor structure and poor shape - leaning to one side
  • Dead leaves and branches that can easily snap off
  • Cracks in the trunk or branches

Regularly inspect and prune your trees, and remember to check with your council about local tree laws.

If you need any help talk to an Arborist or your local council.

If your fence is damaged in a storm, but it hasn’t been well maintained you may not be covered.

If the fence is shared with a neighbour
If a shared fence is well maintained but damaged in a storm, we’ll cover up to 50% of the cost to repair it.

Tip:

  • Regularly check your fence for any problems, such as loose posts or  panels and get them repaired

Pool leaks can often go unnoticed, and over time can cause a lot of damage. Also, if your area is subject to heavy wet weather, water can find its way into your swimming pool lining.

How do I know if my pool has been installed correctly?
Pool manufacturers provide specific details on site preparation for installation of the various types of pool skins.

If you’re building a pool or buying a property with a pre-existing pool, a pool professional should be engaged to certify its construction and installation.    

Maintenance
It’s important to regularly check your pool and keep it well maintained. If you’re claiming for damage caused by a lack of maintenance, you might not be covered.

Tips:

  • Check for visible cracks
  • Check for soggy spots around the pool
  • If you notice water loss is greater than your standard evaporation, you may have a leak – so get an expert in to confirm the cause

Our Home Insurance doesn’t cover damage caused by animals or pests. So it’s important to regularly check for infestation as part of your regular home maintenance.

When disturbed, termites will relocate to another area. At the first sign of infestation, call in pest control professionals. They should deal with the problem and put preventative measures in place to ensure the pests don’t come back.

Tips:

  • Keep your home free of clutter and litter to reduce vermin infestation
  • Reduce the availability of food to help prevent rats and mice

We don’t cover damage that’s the result of deterioration over time, for example, shifting structural foundations or collapsing retaining walls caused by poor maintenance.

How do you spot structural issues?
Look for cracks in your internal or external walls. These cracks are likely related to the movement in your foundations. These movements sometimes happen in times of drought or prolonged rain.

Tips:

To keep an eye on how water affects your foundations, check:

  • Blocked gutters causing water to overflow
  • Overflow seeping into the soil surrounding your foundations
  • Hidden tree roots drawing moisture from the soil around your foundations

For retaining walls, look out for weaknesses in the walls – for example, cracks, softening mortar or loose brickwork.
 
If you have any concerns about a wall’s structural integrity, contact a building or structural specialist.

Jetties usually aren’t built as permanent fixtures, and are just made to cope with normal day to day usage.  Jetties, pontoons, mooring poles, their attachments and accessories won’t be covered in the event of a storm surge or rising sea (including if they’re washed away by a flood).