Gas safety campaigners are warning that a boom in home moving and improving, combined with a pandemic-squeeze on finances and a lack of understanding about insurance policies, risks jeopardising people’s health and wealth in 2021.
New research from Gas Safe Register shows that nearly half of householders (49 per cent) say the pandemic has made them thriftier, prompting 45 per cent to DIY rather than relying on qualified, legally registered professionals for improvements and renovations.
However, these efforts to save money could actually prove more costly: almost 90 per cent of the 2,000 householders surveyed did not realise that home renovations can affect their home insurance cover, and large numbers couldn’t identify some of the most common things that could invalidate their policies, leading to future claims being rejected. These include:
• Using faulty home appliances (61 per cent were unaware)
• DIY damage caused by improvements such as such as relocating a gas boiler, building a conservatory, or similar (50 per cent)
• Not using a certified tradesperson for carrying out gas and electrical work or repairs in your home (48 per cent).
More than half of those surveyed said they had never read their home insurance policy in full. However, for safety reasons, gas, electrical and plumbing works must be carried out by a registered professional. Tackling these types of job unqualified can invalidate home insurance and warranties, leaving people significantly out of pocket if something goes wrong.
To help these millions of home movers and improvers stay safe and save money, Gas Safe Register has teamed up with TV personality and DIY expert, Jo Behari as part of its Safety Starts at Home campaign.
Jo Behari says: “Before deciding to embark on any work, I urge all homeowners to ensure that the tradespeople they hire are properly qualified to safely and legally carry out the work.
“Like with our health, prevention is better than cure when it comes to gas safety and keeping you covered for the unexpected. Having your gas appliances checked annually by a registered engineer means you won’t risk invalidating your insurance by continuing to use appliances that have developed faults.”
Jo regularly appears on Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch, and this week re-iterated the importance of using a registered gas engineer in a section on renovating bathrooms. She told viewers: “Check your boiler and if you have issues make sure you use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fix them.” Not doing so, she warned, could invalidate insurance as well as being illegal.
Kate Devine, insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, adds: “Attempting home improvements yourself that involve significant building work, or even gas and electrical work, rather than using a legally registered professional, can seem like a great way to save money. However, doing so can easily leave you exposed to having a claim refused and significantly out of pocket, should you need to call upon your home insurance policy and you have unwittingly invalidated it.”