Getting your home insured – what to look for?

With so many choices within one company alone it can become a bit baffling to choose between many home insurance options in Portugal. Especially when they all too often seem to have a different layout and even the description of what’s covered. The bare bones policies will be cheap and will cover the essentials of fire, flood, storm and theft but you’ll be digging deep into your own pocket if it’s to find that burst pipe that’s buried underneath the concrete floor in your kitchen. Don’t expect easy access to pipes or cables in nice tidy cavities here in Portugal, they’ll be buried! Don’t go cheap when choosing a home insurance on what is no doubt for most of us the largest investment we’ll ever make.

Reconstruction value of a building

Calculated by the usable square meters of the interior of the home. Minimum for each m2 is usually around 800€. Always go above this to allow for a higher quality finish and if you’re in the Algarve go nearer the double as building expenses seem to be much higher down there than in the rest of Portugal. When we quote, our system assumes the amount per m2 by the post code and unfortunately I don’t think the insurance companies are quite up to date with reality of what’s being charged in the Algarve. Central Lisbon and Porto can also be very expensive but it’s probably due to complications in doing the work be it with licences or the ability to get materials in and rubble out.

Earthquake cover, do you need it?

Probably not if in Porto, but if you’re in Lisbon or in the Algarve then it’s certainly worth considering. It can make the insurance premium a lot more expensive though (post code can determine that) so really, it’s your call! (The last big earthquake I believe was in 1969). Buildings built post 1985 should have anti-earthquake construction, therefore it’s possible to add this cover; anything before that it’s not, unless it’s been a complete reconstruction with modern foundations. On that subject, make sure when you get a quote that your building is dated properly. Not all companies work the same. It is quite a bit more work with some companies to insure pre-1960 houses. For example, some agents doing the insurances may date your 1945 house as 1985 just to make their work a bit easier, so eyes open for that!

Should I insure my home contents?

Whether it’s your own property or not, the contents of that property are most likely to be your own, so should also be insured. Usually high value items should be detailed. You may find it’s anything over 2500€, or perhaps 5000€ in some cases, where you should let the insurance company know and have these items listed on the policy. 

What to look out when choosing the cover?

Not to surprisingly, the prices from one company are never so far from each other if the cover is similar. Look out for excess/deductibles and, quite honestly, avoid polices that have them. That said you’ll always have it on Earthquake cover if you have it and it’s usually around 5 or 10%. In commercial home insurances for those of you doing short term rental business, such as Airbnb, you should also expect to have deductibles. Choose a reputable company, like us – GED Expat Insurance and try to make sure you’re not under-insured on both building and the contents. Have your investment well protected!

Yours truly,

Ged Heaney

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