Insurance

8 reasons why you could be refused home insurance

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Sarah Rigney
Staff Writer

If you’ve been denied home insurance cover, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly why. Here we outline 8 reasons you could be refused home insurance.

If you’re taking out home insurance for the first time, or are renewing your policy, you may find out that you’ve been denied cover. 

Usually, homeowners will be denied buildings or contents cover because the insurer has determined that there is a high-risk element to an application. 

In this guide, we outline the various reasons why you could struggle to find home insurance. In most cases, you may be able to find an insurer who will cater to your needs and provide you with ‘non-standard’ cover for an extra fee.

1. Your property is too old

If your property is more than 100 years old, you may struggle to find an insurer willing to provide you with cover, as these are labelled as ‘non-standard’ by insurers.

When it comes to older properties, it’s likely that the wiring, plumbing, structure, and roofing are not up to modern standards and regulations. 

As such, old buildings are seen as being more risky to insure, as they’re more prone to damage and can be costly to repair. They often require specialist tradespeople or materials that are no longer readily available.

Fire is one of the biggest risks with older buildings, as many are constructed from wood or other combustible materials.

2. You live in a cottage

Once an iconic symbol of Ireland, there are now only around 1,000 thatched cottages remaining in Ireland.

Thatched cottage owners are finding it increasingly difficult to get home insurance cover. 

Some insurers that offer cover for thatched cottages are no longer taking on new customers, as it’s no longer deemed profitable. 

As well, UK underwriters that used to offer insurance for thatched cottages have left the Irish market since Brexit commenced.

Properties with thatched roofs can be difficult to insure for several reasons:

  • They require more maintenance and upkeep than standard tile roofs, as they’re vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, pollution, and wear and tear.
  • It’s common for birds and vermin to settle in thatched roofs, causing damage when they take pieces to build nests, which results in holes occurring in the thatch. 
  • Thatch roofs pose a major fire threat. Due to the flammable nature of the thatch, a blaze can rip through the roof rapidly. 
  • Similarly, overhanging trees can also lead to the thatch drying out, creating a fire risk. 

There have been calls for the Government to step in and provide support to those with thatched cottages, to help with the availability and cost of home insurance. 

3. You have a flat roof

Keeping with the topic of roofing, thatched cottages aren’t the only buildings that you may encounter difficulty insuring because of the roof. 

If your home has a flat roof, you may find insurers are reluctant to offer you cover. Insurers usually classify a roof as being flat if it has a slope of less than 10 degrees.

Flat-roofed houses are seen as being riskier to insure due to the weather in Ireland. High levels of rainfall and flat roofs don’t exactly mix well together, and without a defined slope, it can be difficult for water to run into the gutter. 

This accumulation of water can lead to leaks, and cause dampness. Likewise, you may also notice that the roof will sag. Depending on the roof’s condition, material, and age, these problems born from water accumulation may mean that roof repairs will be frequent.

If you do have a flat roof, it may only be over a certain area, such as the garage. If the flat roof only makes up a small portion, usually less than 33%, of the roof, you may not run into difficulty. 

Having a flat roof can also result in a higher risk of your home being burgled, as thieves can access your home more easily.

4. You have an extensive claims history

Before giving someone cover, an insurance company must try to predict whether a policyholder will cost them less than or more than average to insure.

To determine this, insurers will review your claims history before offering you cover. If they see that you’ve filed several claims in recent years, they may be sceptical to provide you with cover.

This is because you’re seen as being high risk by the insurer. The more claims you’ve made in the past, the more expensive any cover you can get will be. 

5. Your property is vacant

If you have a vacant property, you may also struggle to find an insurer willing to offer you cover.

In vacant homes, there is a higher risk of burglary, burst pipes, and uncontrolled leaks. They can also be more susceptible to severe damage caused by fires and storms.

Most standard home insurance policies become invalid after a property has been vacant for more than a set number of consecutive days, usually 30, 45, or 60 days.

Often if you do have a vacant property, you’ll need to find an insurer who specialises in this type of cover.

You can learn more about vacant properties and what to do if you’re going on an extended trip in our guide on 9 things to consider when taking out home insurance.

6. You live in a flood-risk area

If you have a property near the water, or you’re thinking of purchasing a house near the coast, you’ll be well aware of the flood risk that comes with it. 

Living in a flood-risk area can vastly increase your home insurance premium, and in some cases, you can even be refused cover by an insurer. Insurers are under no obligation in Ireland to provide cover for those who live in high-risk areas.

If you are considering buying a property in a flood risk area, it’s a good idea to speak to a home insurance broker first, who can advise you on the possibility of getting cover. 

Having home insurance in place is a requirement if you want to take out a mortgage in Ireland, so this could hinder your ability to purchase a house.

You may run into a similar issue if your house has subsidence problems, caused by the ground underneath no longer evenly supporting the weight of the property.

7. You’ve had a policy cancelled

If you’ve had a policy cancelled by a home insurer in the past, this may cause issues when trying to find cover in the future. 

An insurer can cancel your home insurance policy for numerous reasons:

  • Non-disclosure: If the information you provide when taking out your policy is inaccurate or false, your insurer can later cancel your policy.
  • Making fraudulent claims: If a claim contains information that is false or misleading, the insurer can refuse to pay out and terminate the policy.
  • Missed payments: If you have agreed to pay for your policy in instalments and you end up missing payments, your policy may be cancelled. 
  • Making multiple claims: If you make too many claims, insurers may think you’re too risky to insure and cancel your policy.

8. Your property is used for commercial activities

If you are a freelance worker, contractor, or self-employed and you use your home as a business premises, you may struggle to find standard home insurance cover. 

This is because there are additional factors insurers need to consider, which deem you riskier to insure.

If you have people regularly coming to your home, for example, if you’re a beautician, or you have equipment at home, you’ll need extra cover in place.

You may be refused cover and have to take out specialised cover. 

In this case, it’s best to talk to a broker who can advise you of the best options for your particular circumstances. 

Find the right home insurance cover for you

If you’re looking for home insurance, why not try out our home insurance service? You could get a discounted quote and save on your premium.

If you’re just taking out a mortgage, home insurance is compulsory, along with mortgage protection insurance, which we also have a comparison tool for.

You can put money back in your pocket with bonkers.ie. Check out our energy, broadband, banking, and other insurance comparison tools and see what you could save. 

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