Having your home damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster can be devastating – like the common flash floods in the eastern states.

Without any protection, you are helpless against any damages that might occur.

However, having the right insurance policy to protect your home and its contents might give you the peace of mind.

Home and contents insurance is essential and can help you cover a wide range of disasters such as fire, theft, natural disasters and medical expenses for you and your family.

You could say this is almost as important as life insurance since your whole financial life could very well be in your home.

Here’s how it works:

1. Types of home insurance policies

There are three main types of policies which you can buy to protect your home:

Types of home insurance policies: Which one do you need?
The main perils covered under these three insurance policies are:

*These exclusions can be covered under your respective policy for an additional premium.

Keep in mind that your insurance coverage is not on the value of the property but rather for the cost of reconstructing it and replacing its contents – at the same time ensuring you and your family is protected as well. Therefore, if you wish to have comprehensive cover for your house and the contents, you should buy a house owner policy and a householder policy.

There are two ways that you could receive your compensation from the insurer:

Methods of compensation

2. Choosing the right insurance policy

Most people only read their policy when they need to make a claim. Unfortunately, by this time it’s often too late. Their claims may not be paid and they end up paying a hefty repair cost from their own pockets – on top of all the insurance premium they have already paid. That is why it is important to find the right insurance that will cover you according to your needs.

When window-shopping around for a policy that’s better suited to your individual needs, make sure to ask these questions:

5 things to ask when shopping around for the best home insurance policy

If you are unsure, always ask your insurance agent to explain each of these points. Only when you are absolutely certain what are included and what are not, should you decide to purchase the policy. This will avoid dispute in the future when the need to claim arises.

3. What should you do when getting a home insurance policy?

For those who keep valuable items at home, such as limited edition collectible items, or expensive paintings, it is best if you purchase a household policy. Once you have purchased your policy, here is what you should do:

After choosing the policy you want, this is what you need to do

4. What to do after a disaster?

If your home has been damaged in a disaster, here are the steps you should take:

What to do when lightning finally strikes

5. How to file a home insurance claim?

Early notification is required to avoid any prejudice to your claim. Your insurance company will be suspicious if you take your time in reporting your loss, and your claims will be held up until an investigation is concluded.

What to do next
If you need to make minor repairs, like replacing the front door to prevent further break-ins, you should ensure that these are carried out immediately and the bills are kept as part of your claim.

If major repairs are required, like rebuilding the wall, you should obtain estimates of the repairs required and send them to your insurer for approval before commencing with repairs.

6. Risk of underinsurance

Being underinsured can be extremely costly and stressful if you lose your home. You are considered to be underinsured if your insurance covers less than 90% of the rebuilding costs in the event of loss or damage.

You can also be underinsured for your home contents if you don’t have enough home contents insurance to replace your things, especially your jewellery and expensive collections.

Don't cut corners when making your assessment

Make sure that your property is adequately insured at all times, and include the cost of renovations and enhancements made to your property. Check that you have adequate coverage each year when you’re renewing your insurance or changing insurers.

7. Prune your insurance premium

a. Don’t include everything

Leave out old items from the coverage. Your 10-year-old toaster might be working fine, but there is no point in insuring the low-value item at a depreciated rate.

b. Install safety equipment

Insurers want to know about the safety measures installed in the house. If you have security guards, fire safety alarms and fire-fighting equipment, the premium can be lower.

c. Avoid unnecessary add-ons

Don’t take an additional cover just because it is there. Add-ons like loss of rent will only increase your premium. Only buy what you need!

Make sure you have the right home and contents insurance cover – and get your home insured against natural disasters. Compare the policies and premiums from a few insurers before choosing the best one that suits your needs. Always compare at least three policies before you decide.

You may think that you don’t need any insurance coverage if you live in a rented house. This is a misconception. The house may belong to the landlord but the contents is yours. So, you will need insurance against any damage to the contents.

If you live in an apartment or condominium, chances are your house is already covered against damage.

The management usually gets the building insured and factors it into the monthly charges payable by the residents.

Make sure you get a copy of your individual certificate of insurance to check the coverage taken up under the master policy by your condominium management.

Your home is one of the largest financial investments you’ve made, and that’s why it’s so important to protect it!

This article is contributed by iMoney.my, Malaysia's leading financial comparison website. To compare and apply for the best financial products, such as credit card, home loans and personal loans, visit www.iMoney.my