Your Questions Answered: ‘Can I get home insurance for a property with a flat roof extension?’

Q My husband and I are about to buy our first home and we need to get the home insurance sorted before we can draw down the mortgage. The property we’re buying has a flat roof extension. I’ve heard it’ll be difficult to get insurance because of the flat roof.​

Ciara, Co Meath

A Whether or not you run into problems getting home insurance due to the flat roof will very much depend on the size of the flat roof. Some insurers cover a flat roof if it represents 30pc or less of the overall roof area but some others will only do so if a flat roof accounts for no more than a fifth. If your flat roof falls within an insurer’s limits, you should be able to secure home insurance, although it may be more expensive than it would be if the property did not have a flat roof.

Either way, you should make sure that your home insurer is aware that you have a flat roof and then check the conditions in your home insurance policy around flat roofs. Your insurer could refuse to cover damage caused to or by a flat roof – particularly if your roof is over a certain size, of a certain age, made of particular construction materials, or if you do not regularly maintain it. Some home insurers don’t cover you for storm or flood damage if your flat roof is more than ten years old and made of torched-on felt or if your roof is made of any other felt and is more than five years old. Your insurer might also refuse to cover you if you don’t get your flat roof maintained by a qualified roofer or builder at least every five years. If your flat roof represents more than 30pc of the overall roof area of your home, you may need to get specialist insurance.

Because you are buying your first home, it’s very important you don’t underinsure as you risk only getting a fraction of the payout you were expecting if your home is damaged and you’ve underinsured it. Make sure the buildings sum insured – the most your insurer will pay if your home is damaged or destroyed and needs to be rebuilt – is correct. Your mortgage provider will ask you to get a valuation report for your home before you buy it, and the reinstatement valuation stated on this report should match your buildings sum insured when you first buy home insurance.

‘I had to cancel flights to Australia . Can I get the money back through my travel insurance?’

Q I was due to fly to Australia this summer to visit my daughter but was recently and unexpectedly diagnosed with a terminal illness and am no longer able to fly. When I contacted the airline to cancel them, I was told the flights are non-refundable. Will I be able to get the money back through my travel insurance?

Maeve, Co Roscommon

A Assuming you bought your travel insurance before you received this awful news and that the diagnosis was unforeseen, you may be able to get the money back for your flights through your travel insurance.

However, you may not be covered by your policy if this terminal illness is linked to, or arose from, a pre-existing medical condition that you had up to two years before your trip or before you bought the policy. This would include any medical condition you were aware of but had not yet had a diagnosis for.

Note that any travelling companion or family member who was due to travel with you but who is cancelling their flight because of your diagnosis may also be covered for cancellation.

Get in touch with your insurer immediately and check where you stand.

‘My Irish car insurance lapsed while I was working in the US. Will I still be able to claim my no-claims bonus if I buy car insurance again?’​

Q I’ve just returned from the US after nearly two years working there. I had car insurance in Ireland before I left but it lapsed. Will I still be able to claim the no-claims bonus I had before I went to the States?

​Ciarán, Co Galway

A Your Irish no-claims bonus (NCB) is no longer valid if more than two years have passed since your Irish motor insurance policy lapsed or was cancelled.

You mention you’ve been abroad for just shy of two years and that your policy lapsed while you were away. If this is the case, your Irish NCB may not yet have expired – though it could be about to. You should make it your priority to insure your car as soon as possible and certainly before your Irish NCB expires. As your NCB could cut your premium by a significant amount the cost of insurance is likely to increase substantially if you lose it.

If you don’t get your car insurance up and running before your Irish NCB expires, all may not be lost. If you have claims-free driving experience in the US in your own name, your insurer could take this into consideration as long as you can provide proof of that claims-free driving experience abroad.​

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