Your home is your castle. Your retreat to its soft embrace at the end of a long, tiring day. It’s where you’ve made lots of memories, from crazy house parties to your child’s first steps. It’s not the most immediate thing to associate these fuzzy memories with the concept of home insurance but here’s why it’s an important thought.
Home is also where you store most of your worldly belongings, from your laptop and jewellery to your tabletop RPG game collection. And whether you live in an HDB flat or private property, it’s also likely to be the most expensive thing you’ve ever paid for.
But what happens if your neighbour burns down your entire block thanks to his lousy cooking skills? Or if someone breaks into your house and helps themselves to your new flat-screen TV? Well, if you’ve got home insurance, you’ll thank yourself for buying it.
- What is home insurance and what does it cover?
- What is the difference between home insurance and fire insurance?
- What insurance is compulsory?
- Where can you buy home insurance and how much does it cost?
- Cheapest home insurance policy in Singapore for HDB owners
- How to choose a home insurance policy
- Is home insurance necessary?
What is home insurance and what does it cover?
Home insurance protects your home and the contents within. This includes not only any renovations and other fixtures and fittings you might have had installed, but also the contents of your home. These might include household appliances and even the people in your home like your family members or domestic helper.
While every home contents insurance policy might be slightly different, here are some common types of protection offered.
Building fixtures, fittings and renovations: Should your building be destroyed in a fire or some other disaster, you’ll want insurance to compensate you for the cost of having to rebuild it. If you live in an HDB flat, the compulsory HDB fire insurance policy you would have bought should cover you for the original building, as well as original fixtures and fittings. However, home insurance is needed to cover any renovations or additional fixtures and fittings you might have installed in your home.
Home contents: Unless you’re living in an empty house, you will have amassed quite a few items like your fridge, washing machine, TV and so on. Home insurance protects these contents of your home if they are damaged or stolen.
Personal liability: Personal liability coverage offers you protection if you become legally liable for something that happens in the home. For instance, if your magically piano falls on somebody’s head, as a homeowner you might be held liable for his injuries. Personal liability coverage can also be useful if you’re a renter, as it protects you should your landlord hold you responsible for breaking one of his possessions.
Alternative accommodation: If your home becomes uninhabitable due to a major incident such as a fire, you will need somewhere to stay. Home insurance pays you a daily benefit so you can find alternative accommodation. This benefit is usually capped at a certain number of days.
Pets: Certain insurers might cover pets, or allow you to include pet cover as an optional add-on. Do note that such cover is usually only extended to dogs and cats, and limited to certain breeds or pedigree animals.
Personal accident for you, your family and/or domestic helper: Receive compensation for medical expenses incurred, or a lump-sum payout for accidental death and disability. This may be included with the plan or included as an optional add-on.
Personal effects, loss of money and valuables: In the event of theft or a break-in, home insurance can offer coverage for your money, valuables and personal belongings. There is usually a limit to how much you can claim for each type of item.
Insured peril or all-risks: There are two main types of home insurance policies—insured peril and all-risk. Insured peril policies will offer you protection in the event of certain types of mishaps that are indicated in the policy, such as fire, flood, earthquake or theft. All-risk policies are designed to cover you in a much wider range of situations and are, of course, more expensive.
What is the difference between home insurance and fire insurance?
If you live in an HDB flat, you might remember being made to purchase compulsory fire insurance when you signed up for your HDB loan. Fire insurance is not to be confused with home insurance.
Fire insurance compensates you for damage to the actual building. That would mean the original structural elements of your home like the walls and electrical wiring as they were when you first moved in. Fire insurance generally does NOT protect the contents of your home such as furniture, appliances and personal belongings. It also does not protect your renovations.
Home insurance offers much broader protection than that. It insures not just your home itself but also the contents of your home, as well as renovations or installations that you might have added to your home after you bought it.
Home insurers already know that the majority of their clients will have fire insurance. So home insurance policies are designed not to overlap with fire insurance ones. They are meant to be complementary to fire insurance, so you can have both at the same time for full coverage of your home.
So what insurance is compulsory in Singapore and what’s not?
Whether you’re an HDB or private property owner, home insurance is never compulsory. Here’s what’s actually compulsory:
All HDB flat owners taking out an HDB loan are automatically signed up to HDB fire insurance, currently provided by Etiqa Insurance Pte Ltd. You must continue with this Etiqa fire insurance plan for as long as you have an outstanding HDB loan. It is renewable every 5 years.
If you are buying your property with the help of a bank loan, it likely that the bank lending you the money will require you to have a fire insurance policy naming them as the beneficiary. This type of policy is called a Mortgagee Interest Policy. That means that if anything happens to your property, the insurance payouts go to the bank.
For those who have already paid off their home loans or paid for their property in cash, fire insurance is no longer compulsory.
Private property owners
For private property, when you sign up for a bank loan, the bank lending you the money will require you to have a fire insurance policy on the amount of money outstanding with the bank as the beneficiary. This policy is called a Mortgagee Interest Policy.
Those who have bought condo units should be aware that your MCST also maintains a fire insurance policy on behalf of the entire condo estate. This also means that you do not have to get your own fire insurance policy, but rather the Mortgagee Interest Policy.
Best home insurance plans in Singapore & how much they cost
The following quotations are for a basic one-year plan. Some plans offer lower premiums if you sign up for a package of a number of years, say 3 or 5.
Where there is an option, we’ve picked the basic, standard or insured perils versions of these plans, with no add-ons, for HDB property.
|Home insurance plan||Annual cost||Building coverage||Contents coverage|
|NTUC Income Enhanced Home Insurance Standard*||$35.31 to $75.97||$30,000 to $70,000||$22,000 to $50,000|
|Aviva Home Lite||$52.97||$75,000||$35,000|
|AXA SmartHome Essential Standard Plan||$53.50||$50,000||$15,000|
|FWD Home Insurance||$57||$80,000||$40,000|
|Etiqa eProtect Home Standard Plan||$60.50||$50,000||$30,000|
|AIG Enhanced Public Housing Contents Insurance*||$70.62||$42,000 to $100,000||$150,000|
|Sompo Homebliss Cosy Plan||$96.30||$80,000||$20,000|
|MSIG Enhanced Home Plus Standard Plan||$118.77||$75,000||$50,000|
|HLAS Home Protect 360 Silver Plan||$256.80||$100,000||$100,000|
* These insurers offer a range of protection limits (and sometimes price) depending on flat size. Typically the lowest end is for HDB 3-room flats and the highest is for 3Gen/executive flats.
Cheapest home insurance policy in Singapore for HDB owners
NTUC Income’s Enhanced Home Insurance takes home the prize for being the cheapest home insurance policy in the land for those living in smaller HDB flats.
This is partly because of their tiered pricing system, which allows each policy holder to pay according to the size of their flat and receive coverage limits tailored to the size and value of their home. For those who live in 3-room or 4-room flats, it means they get to pay some of the cheapest annual premiums available.
The contents and personal liability cover also offer great value considering the premiums for smaller flats are so low. We would recommend this plan for owners of 3-room or 4-room flats who are looking for an affordable plan.
HDB flat owners who are looking to strike a balance between price and features should consider AIG’s Enhanced Public Housing Insurance, which punches above its weight while still charging affordable premiums, making it an especially good option for those with bigger flats who wish to enjoy higher building and contents coverage limits.
How to choose a home insurance policy
Don’t just go for the cheapest plan, or the most comprehensive one. You need to first understand your needs so you’re not over- or under-insuring yourself. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a plan.
The value of your home and belongings: If you’re living in a 2-room HDB flat that you renovated at minimal cost and all your appliances are from Daiso, there is no need to splash out on a costly home insurance plan. Conversely, if you live in a lavish, multi-million dollar bungalow that you renovated to look like the Palace of Versailles, you’d better spend more insuring it.
Whether the plan’s coverage meets your lifestyle needs: Your giant poodle might be the most important thing in your home, while someone else might be more concerned about securing a hospital allowance in case one of his elderly parents gets hurt. You’ll thus want to look out for a plan that offers the best coverage in the areas that matter most to you. In addition, some plans can be quite customisable, with riders for certain categories such as pets and personal injury. Go through plans within your budget to see which best meets your needs and compare the pay-outs that are important to your scenario against the market.
How necessary is home insurance in Singapore?
Home insurance isn’t compulsory. But should a fire really break out, you’ll thank your lucky stars if you have BOTH fire and home insurance, rather than just fire insurance.
If something unfortunate happens and your entire home gets destroyed, you’re going to lose much more than just the building for which fire insurance will compensate you.
You’ll lose all the renovations you painstakingly oversaw and argued with your contractor over, we well as your belongings and appliances—all of which will only be protected if you have home insurance, and the cost of which can easily add up to a five or even six figure sum.
Of course, your home insurance needs will vary depending on whether you own the property or are just renting, and whether you are the one living in it.
If you’re an owner-occupier (that is, you own the home in which you are living), home insurance is essential. All the contents of your home belong to you. In addition, you have probably spent quite a bit renovating your home and installing fixtures that you personally enjoy.
You will thus want to consider a more comprehensive home insurance policy, such as an all-risks policy that covers you in a wider range of situations.
Just because you don’t own the home you live in doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider home contents insurance. If your home did not come fully furnished, it means that most of the appliances and other items within belong to you. In addition, you will want to be compensated for the cost of alternative accommodation if something happens to your home. You might also need to be compensated for legal claims your landlord might bring against you if you damage something on the property belonging to him.
How much you should spend on insurance depends on the value of your belongings in your accommodation. If you’re a poor student renting a room in a shareflat, it’s probably not worthwhile buying home insurance. However, if your entire family is living in a rental home that came unfurnished, you have greater incentive to buy home insurance.
Even if your property is being occupied by tenants, you as the landlord are likely to be the one who has borne the cost of your home’s renovations, as well as fittings and installations like air con units and lights. If you are renting out a furnished home, you will also be the owner of many of the home’s appliances, like washing machines. Home insurance becomes a way that you can protect all of these things. You also enjoy protection from personal liability if your tenants decide to sue you for accidents that happened on the property.
If you want to save money, you can probably get away with an insured peril rather than an all-risks policy, since the one to bear the brunt of the losses in incidents like a robbery is likely to be your tenant rather than you.
Is your home currently protected by home insurance? Tell us why or why not in the comments.
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Tags: Home Insurance