Don’t let dodgy DIY invalidate your home insurance

Christina Hoghton
Written By:
Christina Hoghton

As the Bank Holiday approaches your thoughts may turn to DIY, but are you really qualified to undertake that project?

Millions of Brits could put themselves and their property at risk this Bank Holiday weekend by undertaking DIY jobs that should be left to professionals, said GoCompare Home Insurance.

According to research from the price comparison site, only 43% of homeowners would employ a professional tradesman to undertake home maintenance jobs. Most (58%) would try to do the jobs themselves or get help from friends or family.

Worryingly 29% of DIY-ers said they would attempt plumbing jobs, just under a quarter (24%) would undertake electrical work while 13% would try to fix the boiler or central heating system. However, for safety reasons, electrical, plumbing and gas work should be carried out by a registered professional.

Tackling jobs you’re not qualified for could also invalidate your home insurance, leaving you liable for the cost of repairing any subsequent damage.

The top 10 maintenance jobs in UK homes

The survey by GoCompare also asked homeowners about the maintenance jobs on their to-do lists. Here’s the top 10:

1. Servicing the boiler
2. Repairing cracked walls
3. Painting and repairing exterior paintwork
4. Fixing a damp problem
5.Replacing boundary fences or walls
6. Blocked or damaged gutters
7. Repairing damaged brickwork or mortar
8. Fitting smoke or carbon monoxide detectors
9. Replacing sealant around baths and showers or cracked shower trays or baths
10. Updating electrical wiring.

Before tackling any DIY jobs, check your home insurance to ensure you’re covered against accidental damage and your planned work won’t invalidate your policy.

Are you covered?

Most policies don’t cover accidental damage to your home or belongings unless you have specifically added cover.

A review of home buildings and contents insurance policies found that only 17% of buildings and 16% of contents policies include cover for accidental damage as a standard policy feature. Most (81% of buildings and 82% of contents) policies offer accidental damage cover as an optional extra, while 2% of buildings and 2% of home contents policies exclude cover altogether.

Ryan Fulthorpe, home insurance expert at GoCompare said: “We’ve all heard horror stories of botched DIY, where someone has accidentally knocked a nail through a water pipe or drilled through complex wiring. What people may not be aware of is some these well-intentioned DIY-ers may have had to pick up the bill for the repairs if their home insurance doesn’t cover accidental damage. You also should be aware some policies will exclude damage caused by cleaning.

“Accidental damage cover provides for loss or damage to your property and possessions as a result of an unforeseen accident. Common reasons insurers give for refusing accidental damage claims are that the policy did not cover the event that occurred, or that it wasn’t an accident. Policies also exclude cover for poor workmanship or faulty materials. So, a claim for damage caused by dodgy DIY work or for tasks such as plumbing or electrical work you’re not qualified to do may be refused.”

He continued: “Water damage is among the most common household claims. However, policies exclude damage which has occurred gradually or, damage which could have been avoided by regular maintenance – such as cleaning gutters of leaves. So, it’s important to keep on top of regular home maintenance jobs which could otherwise damage your property over time.”