Two towers of Ajman One residential complex were damaged in a massive fire on March 29 Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/XPRESS

ABU DHABI: The huge blaze that severely damaged two residential towers in Ajman last week has put the focus on the need to insure one’s home.

As many as 300 families were left homeless and all their belongings reduced to ashes in one of the worst fires reported in the emirate.

Rebuilding their lives is proving a painful process, made worse by the fact that many of them do not have insurance coverage for their homes.

According to Fabrice Benard, chief officer marketing and retail product offering at AXA Gulf, 95 per cent of the UAE population has no home insurance.

“Customers have a misconception that the process of buying home insurance is complex and time-consuming. Another common misunderstanding is that people believe home insurance to be the landlord’s or the promoter’s responsibility, but the fact remains that the landlord or promoter’s insurance does not cover tenants’ contents nor their personal belongings,” said Benard.

Increasing awareness

He said people are beginning to realise the importance of having home insurance, particularly in the aftermath of recent fires.

“Over the last few days, we have noticed a big increase in our quotes, leads generated online, and sales,” said Benard.

A Qatar Insurance Company (QIC) report suggests less than one per cent of homes in Dubai have home contents insurance, which covers for loss and financial risk in case of fire, theft and accidents.

Salem Al Mannai, deputy group president and CEO QIC – Mena region said many families could have avoided the financial distress if they had insured their home contents.

“Most families don’t see the need for home contents insurance as they assume that their contents are covered by the building’s insurance, which unfortunately is not the case – the insurance covering the building or villa covers the structure but not what’s inside it,” he said.

According to market experts, many residents hesitate to buy home insurance thinking it is expensive. But that is not always the case.

The average cost of a home insurance policy - depending on the risks involved - can be as low as Dh200 per year. “And that can cover Dh75,000 worth of contents in your home, coverage for fire damage, accidental damage, liability towards third parties up to Dh2 million, coverage for theft, water leaks and storm damage. The policy will also cover loss of rent or cost of alternative accommodation whilst the damaged home is being restored back to a habitable condition,” said Benard.

Frederik Bisbjerg, executive vice president, QIC, said in order to raise awareness about the importance of insuring home contents, the company is offering a special 50 per cent discount on its basic home content insurance.

“The offer is for a short period of time. The idea is to give people a chance to get insured before the summer season,” he said.

According to experts a comprehensive home insurance policy should cover your contents and personal belongings and any damage that occurs from fire, theft, accidental damage, unexpected events and natural calamities.

It should also provide you with alternative accommodation if your home is made temporarily uninhabitable.

Insurance features to consider

While purchasing home insurance, the following points must be considered:

What kind of coverage do I need for my home (building, household contents and personal belongings coverage)?

Is my family covered and/or does my insurance cover worldwide third party liability? If yes, what is the limit?

Is my home covered while I am away and for how long? Some insurance companies provide up to 60 days of coverage.

Does my insurance cover unexpected events and natural calamities? Am I insuring my home against damage caused by events like fire, lightning, earthquake, flood, storm, malicious damage, riots, strikes, water leaks, theft and more?

What kind of claim services does my insurance company provide? How easily can I claim? Is there an online service to claim and how fast is the payment of my claim made?

Does my insurance policy provide real value for cover to provide protection for the things I care about?

Courtesy AXA Insurance