Before starting any significant maintenance work, check that your insurance policy will cover any accidents that may occur while the work is being carried out. Do not assume that coverage will be automatic. For large repairs or maintenance projects such as replacing the roof cladding, give your insurance company details of what you plan to do well before the work begins.

If you employ a builder to do maintenance work on your house, you need to organise a contract works extension to your insurance policy to provide cover for the part of the property that is being worked on to cover any damage to work being done. In some instances it is the building contractor who will arrange the insurance, but in any case the building contract should set out who is to arrange the cover and who is named as insured. Check whose insurance policy any subcontractors will be covered by. 

Insurance typically covers:

  • damage to the site or project
  • damage to the existing building and structures
  • theft, vandalism and arson
  • environmental damage from storms, floods, hail, snow, frost or earthquakes.

However, you must check what is specifically covered by your insurance policy.

When carrying out maintenance work such as burning off paint yourself, before starting work notify your insurance company to ensure that your policy will remain valid while the work is being done. 

Public liability insurance covers damage to third-party property and personal injury to others caused by the contractor’s negligence. It is the tradesperson’s responsibility to have public liability insurance and cover for their plant and equipment.

Major repair or maintenance work is a good opportunity to check that your house insurance policy is up to date, and that if you have fixed sum insurance, you have the right sum. Fixed sum insurance is the most common type of policy. The sum insured is the full cost of rebuilding your home. If your house burns down, for example, the company will pay out up to that sum.

Work carried out by The Treasury in 2015 found that up to 85% of New Zealand houses could be underinsured by an average of 28%. In other words, after a disaster many homeowners would be left tens of thousands of dollars short of the money they need to rebuild.

Choosing the right sum is important. The amount should include demolition costs and professional fees. There are online calculators from insurance companies and others available to help.

Some companies offer total home replacement policies. As the name suggests, this means that the company will pay the full cost of replacing your home, with no fixed maximum sum.