I bought a new home of 1,800 sq ft in Rajkot, Gujarat, this January. Ever since then, a total of 10 earthquakes have jolted India, with six of them occurring in March 2023 alone. To protect myself from any financial setback due to natural calamities like earthquakes, fire or other losses, I am planning to soon buy home insurance. What are the things I must consider before buying the cover? Additionally, how can I be more careful so that my home insurance claim isn’t denied if, in case, required?

Suraj Patel

As you have rightly pointed out, natural disasters are on the rise and home insurance is no longer an option but a vital need. Although this plan is not restricted to a specific city, but since you hail from Gujarat, which has historically witnessed one of the worst earthquakes in India, and lies in a seismically active region, you should definitely protect your home with an insurance plan.

In India, this insurance coverage is broadly available as structure and contents insurance. The former protects against losses stemming from structural damage caused by an act of God or unnatural disasters, whereas the latter shields you against losses or damage to the contents of your home, like destruction to electronics, jewellery, furniture, etc. Therefore, when selecting the amount of coverage, you should always bear in mind factors such as location, type of house and the value of your belongings.

Given the unpredictable nature of earthquakes, it is also recommended to couple comprehensive home insurance coverage with add-ons that make for a robust policy covering your overall requirements. It is also essential to know that the premium amount is calculated based on various parameters, such as the age of the house, structure type, and cost of construction, etc. Likewise, with a wide range of home insurance plans available, it is advisable to compare the coverage offered, benefits, premium amount, etc., of various policies online to select the one that best fulfills your needs.

Now, coming to the second part of your question, which is to avoid the rejection of your claim, there are a few simple rules to follow. First and foremost, it is necessary to contact your insurance provider and report the damages and losses at the earliest. This is because the insurer needs to analyse the incident promptly to determine and assess the damages. Any delay in this step can raise doubts about the validity of the claim. Next is to fill in a declaration form and detail out all the necessary information. Any false statements or negligence would invalidate your coverage.

Additionally, the policyholder must also support their claim with adequate documents and proof required, such as photos, invoices, FIRs, etc. Further, one needs to declare all assets such as electrical equipment, furniture and, most importantly, the valuables at the time of purchasing a home insurance policy.

Another apparent reason for claim denial is if the homeowner files a claim for damage that is stated as exclusion in the policy. For instance, there might be a scenario where the policy does not cover natural disasters. Thus, always read the inclusions and exclusions and, where required, buy an add-on feature to stay covered on all fronts. Always remember that any intentional damages or losses occurring due to negligence to your property are never covered under any insurance policy by default. Similarly, normal wear and tear of your house is not eligible for insurance claim. So, keep these factors in mind before you file a claim.

It is important to remember that while a practical reason for purchasing home insurance is the home’s susceptibility to natural calamities, it is equally important to recognise that a home is a valuable asset with significant emotional value. Therefore, home insurance should be a consideration for everyone’s financial portfolio. It should be viewed as an investment rather than being treated as a cost.

The writer is Joint group CEO, Policybazaar.com

Send your queries to insurancequeries@thehindu.co.in