You have these obligations regarding your home contents insurance

From BZ/dpa

On the safe side: If you have home insurance, you’re well protected against damage from theft or fire. But only if you stick to certain rules of the game.

Imagine an apartment fire destroying all of your furniture, inventory, clothing – would you be financially capable of replacing all of this? Household insurance protects you from these and other risks from just over 50 euros a year.

However, if damage occurs, the insured must also be able to prove what items he owned. But how?

The most important questions and answers about home goods insurance.

What risks does home insurance cover me?

Contents insurance covers damage caused by theft, fire, lightning, storm, hail, or tap water.

If you also want to protect your belongings against the forces of nature, such as floods, rain, snow pressure, avalanches, landslides or earthquakes and backwaters, you need another component in addition to your homeowners insurance: natural hazard insurance.

What items are insured?

“Everything you can take with you when you move”, writes the magazine “Finanztest” (issue 7/2022).

So any inventory that is not permanently installed in an apartment: furniture, carpets, appliances, textiles, kitchen utensils and books. In many rates, strollers parked in the hall are also protected against theft, for example. Or the bike if it was in a closed part of the building. Garden furniture, on the other hand, is not fully insured at all rates.

The Federation of Insureds (BdV) recommends opting for household insurance that also includes cash holdings of at least 2,000 euros.

As part of the external insurance, household items are also covered if they go on a trip with you. For example, if electronic devices or clothing are stolen from the hotel room. If you want to insure your bike against theft outside your home, you generally need to purchase separate bike protection.

According to the BdV, if at the time of the accident you have borrowed objects in your own home, they are also insured. On the other hand, damage caused to valuables by visitors must be covered by their own household insurance.

How do I prove what items I own?

In order to get money from the insurer in the event of damage, insured persons must be able to prove exactly what destroyed or lost items they actually owned. According to the NRW consumer advice center, receipts, bank statements, receipts, warranty certificates, repair invoices or photos of the items can help. But also video excerpts from the apartment, for example at parties or celebrations, are useful for documenting possessions.

The BdV advises to collect documents that can later serve as proof of ownership when the contract is concluded and keep them in a safe place outside the apartment.

This could be with family, friends, or even digitally in a cloud. If new acquisitions are added over time, the documents should be supplemented accordingly.

In the case of cash, it becomes more difficult to provide proof. According to the BdV, a good idea is a photo of the safe or safe in which the cash should ideally have been. The account statements that prove the cash withdrawal serve as a complement.

How do I prove the damage caused?

In case of damage, quick action is required. Because those affected are obliged to avoid further damage to household goods. In case of water damage, for example, the main tap must be closed. In addition, the insurer must be informed immediately.

Losses must be documented in photos or better videos. Before the insurer accepts the cleanup work, anything that might make it difficult for the insurer to determine the damage must be avoided.

Then a damage list must be created with all destroyed or damaged objects, informs the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center. “Ideally, you should add purchase receipts. If these are no longer available, you should note the approximate time of purchase and the original price from memory.

To what extent do insurers compensate for losses suffered?

According to consumer advocates in North Rhine-Westphalia, in the event of an insured event, the insurer will reimburse the replacement price of an item “in new condition”, that is, the new value.

How soon can I expect insurance money to settle a claim?

According to consumer advocates, it’s not uncommon for people to wait a long time for their claims to be resolved. However, those affected can request an advance payment from the insurance company, if all the documents are available no later than one month after the notification of the damage. They have a legal right to that.

Are there conditions I must meet to get full insurance coverage if I am away from home for a period of time?

“A longer absence is what is called an increased risk and must therefore be communicated to the insurer,” says the BdV. The terms and conditions of the insurance indicate what time of absence is considered relevant.

As long as there are no indications of imminent damage, policyholders are not required to turn off the main faucet if they are absent for an extended period. According to the BdV, it still makes sense. As well as the disconnection from the electrical network of all electrical devices in disuse to avoid damage due to overvoltage in the event of a lightning strike.

In what cases can insurers deny or reduce payment for home damage?

The BdV advises consumers to only enter into contracts where insurers completely waive their right to reduce insurance benefits if the insured caused the insured event through gross negligence.

However, insurers can still reject, reduce or terminate the contract. For example, when the insured do not comply with their so-called obligations or are in default with the payment of the premium.

The obligations in the event of an insured event would be, for example, heating the apartment in the cold season or reporting a longer absence. Obligations subsequent to the occurrence of an insured event are, for example, the immediate notification of the damage and the support of the insurer in the settlement, for example, by providing information on the course of the damage.

But: according to the BdV, not every breach of the obligation entitles the insurer to reduce the benefit entirely.

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