Singaporeans are lucky enough to live in a safe geographic location. We don’t face typhoons, earthquakes, or tsunamis.
Unfortunately, that makes us more than a little complacent about home insurance. And when these unexpected disasters strike, they strike hard. Here’s what many of us don’t realize:
The fire is bad, but what comes after is worst
When we read about fires in the news, there’s one glaring omission. Look at this report about a man standing on a fourth-floor ledge, while his flat burned down. Or the seven-year-old boy who had to be taken to the hospital after a fire.
The stories touch briefly on what happened, but we seldom get a look at the fallout after the incident. The things we often don’t consider are:
– Damage or loss of personal property
– Being held accountable for damaging someone else’s property
– Medical expenses for people besides you and your family
– Living expenses
– Your own family’s medical expenses
1. Damage or loss of personal property
If you had to estimate the value of everything in your house, how much would it be?
Most people store a significant portion of their non-monetary wealth in their homes. Examples are antiques, gold jewelry, collectibles, or even branded clothes and bags. If you were to lose all this in a fire, chances are the loss would be significant. This is especially true if it includes the tools of your trade (e.g. instruments for musicians).
Many Singaporeans, not being used to disasters, also don’t realize that disasters and theft go hand-in-hand: it is quite for easy for someone to filch your earrings or watch when they are going through the remains of your house. Items can and do go missing for reasons besides the fire.
With home insurance policies such as Home Protect360, you will be able to make claims for lost jewelry or even cash in the aftermath of a fire. We do not cover cash due to insured perils, only due to break-in. It even covers things such as damaged television sets, or the loss of your cabinetry, dining table, chairs, etc.
(If you think back to when you first moved in, you may remember how much it costs to furnish a whole house; we’re sure you don’t want to pay that sum again!)
Regardless, even with home insurance in Singapore, do be cautious about the value you keep at home. Some valuables are better left in a bank deposit box, and you may want to separately insure items such as grand pianos, or rare stamp albums. Home Protect360 covers your household belongings and furnishings for up to $300,000.
2. Being held accountable for damaging someone else’s property
Many people are already worried about the cost of repairing their property. Imagine if, on top of that, you have to worry about the cost of repairing your neighbor’s. Well, it can happen:
Depending on the circumstances of the fire, you may be held accountable (to varying degrees) for it. This could mean that damage to your neighbor’s home will fall on your shoulders.
Also, if you have visitors in your house at the time of the fire, you could be liable for damages to their belongings. If your friend’s laptop was left in the house when the fire started, for example, you could be asked to pay for it.
Home insurance can provide for such liabilities, allowing you to concentrate on the costs of rebuilding your own flat or house.
3. Medical expenses for people besides you and your family
Fire spreads, and seldom restricts itself to you and your family. Your neighbors could just as easily be injured from it, as can any unfortunate visitors or passers-by. This, in turn, becomes a liability to you.
For example, if your stove catches fire during a Christmas party, and three or four of your guests get burned, you could be the one saddled with their medical costs. It is improbable that you can cope with such a large expense while having to rebuild your own home.
This is why the most basic protections, such as the CPF home protection scheme, may not be sufficient. Injuries to others are not covered by it, and you should aim for more comprehensive protection.
4. Living Expenses
After the fire, it will take time to rebuild your home. You and your family will need accommodations. Living with friends and relatives for a few days is fine, but it could take months to completely rebuild your home. You may not find anyone who will house you for that long (Singaporean homes are notoriously small as is!)
This often means resorting to rental units, or – if you can bear the costs – a hotel. Again though, this is not covered under many basic fire insurance plans in Singapore. You need a proper home insurance policy, to provide for situations like these.
5. Your own family’s medical expenses
You will need a good personal accident protection plan, in the event of injury from the fire. A good way to get this protection is by using HL Assurance home insurance plan, which also includes personal accident coverage.
For example, Home Protect360 comes with a global personal accident protection plan. This provides coverage of up to $35,000 for medical needs during an accident, and it’s not just for fires either.
You can use a claim from the same plan even if you’re injured for other reasons, from anywhere in the world (e.g. injured while on a roller coaster ride in Disneyland).
How do I get better home insurance?
First, you should have an estimate of how much insurance you require, based on your home and what you keep in it. The General Insurance Association (GIA) has guidelines on this. However, you can also talk to our home insurance experts, who can give you further advice and get you a competitively priced quote in minutes. Just call (+65) 67020202.
You can get Home Protect360 so long as you are the legal owner of the property, and you are the approved mortgage for the property. It is advisable to get Home Protect360 the moment renovations begin on your home.
When it rains, it pours
Remember, accidents don’t often happen to homes in Singapore. But in the rare situations when they do, the financial setback can last for decades.
Unprepared homeowners can face ruined retirement funds, high-interest bank loans, or even loss of educational opportunities for your children. The aftermath of fire costs far more than simple repairs.
Don’t put yourself, or your family, in that situation for the sake of saving a few more dollars a month. Contact us so we can help you right away.
By Ryan Ong
Disclaimer: All info contained herein is intended for your general information only and is not a substitute for insurance advice. If you have a specific question, please consult our insurance experts at 6702 0202.