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Common cents

It’s better to be safe than sorry

Gulf News

It’s ingrained in our human psyche to only take action when something goes wrong. We usually don’t pay our dentist a visit until our teeth complain or we keep putting off medical checkups until there is a specific problem. We ignore the fact that taking precautionary measures is just as vital to our wellbeing as it is to our pockets.

Home insurance is one of those precautionary measures that we often ignore. Only about five per cent of the population in the UAE has the necessary insurance.

Tenants have been warned time and again that if they don’t insure the contents in their home, any disaster, such as a kitchen fire, water leak, flood or burglary, could leave them penniless and struggling to get their life back on track.

This is because the insurance taken out by landlords often provides cover only for the apartment or villa, not for the loss or damage to the tenant’s personal property. Your possessions: flat screen TV, playstation, leather sofa, carpets, curtains, beddings, clothes and jewellery are yours to look after.

Hundreds of families in the UAE realized this too late - after a spate of domestic fires left them homeless and broke. Last Sunday, another fire broke out, this time at a 34-storey tower in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) district, leaving more families without shelter and money.

This time, however, it seems the message is getting through. Less than 24 hours after the blaze, insurers in Dubai noticed a spike in home insurance enquiries and sales. Axa Insurance Gulf and Royal & Sun Alliance (RSA) Middle East saw their home insurance take-up surged considerably in the three days since the JLT incident.

Understandably, the high numbers reflect the knee-jerk reaction of the residents. We haven’t seen a residential damage of this magnitude in Dubai in recent years. Most of the house fires before that happened either in the periphery of the city or in a smaller scale.

Don’t wait for a similar disaster to strike at your home. It’s better to be prepared than be sorry later. Buying a home contents insurance can cost less than Dh500 a year, depending on the value of your personal possessions and the type of protection you sign up for.

Insurance policies don’t just cover your valuables, they can offer you an alternative accommodation in the event that your apartment needs to undergo major repairs.

They also provide third party liability cover so that when you are held responsible for a fire that spread to other flats, the insurance company will pay for the costs. You can also opt to cover your housemaid for accidental medical expenses, death or disability.

For those interested to take out a contents insurance, consider the following:

• Decide how much insurance coverage you require. Make an inventory of all the things in your apartment and photograph those that are very valuable.

• Check the terms of the insurance before buying any. Find out how long it’s going to take to make a claim and what documents your insurer will require.

• Make sure your insurance has enough third party liability cover. Insurance can pay Dh100,000 to Dh1 million if you find yourself in a difficult situation.

• Ensure adequate cover is in place, that you’re covered not only when a fire breaks out, but also when a theft, accidental damage, natural calamity occurs. If you have employed a domestic help, make sure you include them, too. The additional cover only costs about Dh100.

• Store the receipts of items worth at least Dh3,000. Keep them, along with other insurance documents, pictures, and important papers in a fire-safe storage box