Rising crime in the territory underlines the need for proper coverage of house

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 June, 1994, 12:00am

THE record number of burglaries in the territory highlights the importance of insuring possessions against theft.

Premiums and cover can vary widely between insurers so it pays to investigate what is on offer.

Equally important for home-owners is to find out what the policy exempts. For example, most policies will not cover items such as jewellery or cameras which are lost or stolen outside the home.

Alternatively, some policies, such as Sun Alliance's Home Policy, will include automatic cover for amahs, $5 million in third party liability cover, and lock and key replacement of up to $1,000.

David Cosgrove, deputy chief executive of Carlingford Insurance Group, a division of the Hongkong Bank, said the amount of insurance cover being taken out had been rising steadily in the past 10 years.

In spite of this, he estimated that less than 50 per cent of households had any household cover.

Mr Cosgrove added that most home-buyers who took out contents' insurance as a condition of their mortgage would drop the cover when they had finished repayments.

Those who are not insured should ask themselves whether they would be able to meet the replacement costs of losing their television sets, jewellery or thousands of dollars of audio and camera equipment.

Mr Cosgrove said: ''To some extent, it is less important here than in other countries where the burglary rates are still a lot higher. In addition, most people live in flats where there is only one entrance for the burglary - through the front door.

''Burglars are also at a greater disadvantage because there are normally more people around, making it more difficult to break into a place unnoticed.'' The cost of insurance last year rose about 10 per cent - equal to the rate of inflation - and has been largely contained by a number of new entrants moving into the market and hoping to buy market share.

Most insurance companies charge between 0.6 and 0.7 per cent of the total value of the assets being covered as the annual premium.

Typically, the annual premium for an individual seeking to cover contents worth $150,000 will be about $1,000.

Most companies will impose a minimum annual premium of about $800 regardless of the total potential claim. It is also important to check the excess - the portion which the insured party will have to pay when making a claim.

For example, Eagle Star imposes an excess of $250 for accidental loss or damage, but no excess for theft, fire or flood.

Bobbie McGraw, an assistant director with Mollers' Insurance Brokers, an independent broker, warned those considering a policy to carefully check all the terms and conditions.

A major exclusion is household contents, such as radios or jewellery, which are lost or stolen outside the home.

Because the risk for the insurer is higher, the level of premium can be nearly three times that paid for household cover.

To ensure that those types of possessions are covered it is necessary to take out an all-risks option.

Once again, it could pay to check the minimum level of cover in addition to any exclusions.

Typically, the rate will be set between 1.25 and three per cent of the sum assured.