Why Self-Builders need an A-rated insurer for their 10 year Structural Warranty
When you build a self-build or new home, it’s crucial you ensure it has a 10 year Structural Warranty in place so you can sell it easily and protect your project. But with a range of Self-Build structural warranty providers, how do you know who to choose? It’s simple – always go for an A-rated provider, or you risk choosing an unstable company that could leave you uninsured.
This is why the Self-Build Zone structural Warranty policies are backed by an A-rated global insurer and has received full approval from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI). Plus, we help you minimise any defects right from the start by making sure every self-build we cover is subject to a full technical review by Build-Zone Survey Services Ltd.
What questions to ask your provider:
Who is your insurer?
What is their rating?
Check your coverage
Why does this matter for my Self-Build Structural Warranty?
A Structural Warranty isn’t the same as your average annual insurance policy, it is a long-term policy of 10 years. When you take out a product like this, you need to be confident that your provider will still be running come the end of the 10 years, or your home could end up uninsured and in breach of mortgage conditions.
That’s where the financial rating agencies assessment of an insurer should play a key part in the selection of your provider. It is incredibly risky to select an unrated insurer for any policy, but when it comes to long-term structural warranties, it’s particularly dangerous.
For proof, you only have to look at the bankruptcy of Danish based unrated insurer Alpha Insurance A/S in 2018 – which left around 21,000 homeowners without cover and caused well-established warranty provider to go out of business.
Given the huge issues this caused, more unrated providers continue to appear in the market, often offering cheaper premiums that could ultimately come with a higher price – so it’s crucial you check the financial rating of your structural warranty provider’s insurer.
What is an 'A' rated insurer?
At the end of the day, if something goes wrong and you have a claim, it’s your insurer who is responsible for paying – so you need to be confident that they can. An A-rated insurance company has been, and will continuously be, assessed by leading international rating agencies such A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s (S&P).
These agencies assess and establish if an insurer has long term financial strength and it’s subsequent ability to pay valid claims.
A lower-rated insurer, such as a ‘B’ or ‘C’, is deemed to have a poorer ability to settle claims.
Unrated insurers on the other hand, do not qualify for a financial strength rating by these agencies, meaning there is no evidence of their ability to pay claims and their long-term stability has not been independently verified by these industry standard companies.
Also, not all insurers are based in the UK and therefore not subject to the same regulatory bodies. Unrated insurers based outside of the UK, their local regulatory bodies may not also subject their insurers to the same rigors that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) do in the UK. Many are also not part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which can provide some protection to homebuyers if the insurer goes into liquidation.
What happens if I don’t use an A-rated provider?
If the insurer you select goes out of business, that cheaper initial premium you paid could ultimately lead to you spending more money in the long run. Not only could you lose the premium you originally paid, but you will have to also buy and pay for another new structural warranty, so you can sell the property onwards, as lenders in the UK require a New Home to have a 10 year Structural Warranty before they will lend funds to the buyer.
It’s also more challenging to find a structural warranty retrospectively. This is because A-rated insurers will send out competent professionals to carry out technical audits throughout the construction process to make sure that the property is being built to a high standard and identify any defects early on.
If your self-build has already been completed or mostly built, it’s more difficult for your new structural warranty provider to assess the integrity of the build – so this will be reflected in the cost of your premium.
So how do I find the right provider for my New Home Warranty?
Luckily there’s a range of 'A' rated providers on the market who can offer structural warranties at competitive prices. Let’s look at what you should consider, so you can choose the right insurer from the start.
Planning your Self-Build carefully and budgeting for your warranty requirements before you start is crucial. Trying to get a structural warranty after you start will increase the cost significantly. Ask your insurer about their financial rating (you can double check this yourself on the insurers websites).
Check your coverage
Once you’ve established that your provider is 'A' rated and trustworthy, take a look at the cover on offer, including any exclusions or restrictions. Check your limits – does the policy cover the full costs to rebuild the property or is there are a lower limit? Are all key elements, e.g. ingress of water, covered for the full policy period?
Different insurers will have different stipulations for providing your warranty. A good insurer will send out competent professionals such as surveyors and engineers regularly throughout the build to monitor progress, helping prevent any issues that may lead to a claim. Be wary of any provider who does not arrange site visits or only asks for photographs. Not only does this show a lack of care that could cause potential issues to be missed, leading to a higher chance of a claim, but the insurer is more likely to be unrated.
Don’t judge by price alone
The most important thing to remember is that cheaper cover rarely means better cover. There are many unrated insurers offering cheaper premiums, but they will always be much riskier for long-term New Home Warranties and may offer a compromised service. So if a quote from a provider backed by 'A' rated insurers seems a little pricier, remember it comes with more reliable long-term cover, a better sales pitch for your properties and peace of mind for both you and your customers.