There will be times when you become a non-standard or special risk for the purposes of insuring what would normally be considered an ordinary item


Non-standard and special risks insurance

More and more people nowadays are becoming non-standard or special risks, even though they might not think so. But you will get an idea when the insurer indicates there could be a problem, says you need to pay extra for cover or declines cover altogether.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you wouldn’t be able to find satisfactory cover at an acceptable rate with another ordinary insurer, e.g. if you have a classic car, a thatched roof or are a tree surgeon.

But certainly if it looks like you will face hesitation, higher premiums or refusal from most mainstream insurers, you should definitely be looking at cover from a specialist insurer or via a special policy available through a broker. If you are refused cover you have no other option.

Anyway, ordinary insurers won’t necessarily be as geared to covering certain types of risk as specialist insurers – e.g. taxis, bed and breakfast places, fish and chip shops, dog grooming parlours, churches and mosques. The same goes if you have a wooden, timber framed or eco-designed house – or live in a converted church.

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Better cover and a better price

A specialist insurer may be able to give you better cover and at a better rate. Certainly a broker will sort out for you whether you should be covered by a specialist insurer or whether you can in fact get a better deal with an ordinary insurer simply by adjusting the policy.

When you can’t get ordinary insurance

Ordinary insurers may exclude certain risks or may make things difficult for you. For instance, they can have a totally negative attitude towards anyone with a non-motor criminal conviction – you will have serious problems getting household insurance if you have a criminal record.

Your house before you bought it may have suffered from subsidence and even have been underpinned, which will usually rule out mainstream insurance. Perhaps your house may have been flooded or it may simply be in a high risk flood area. You may have one or more trees very near your property. You may have a really bad driving record. You will have problems with many insurers in these kinds of circumstances.

Obtaining insurance can be a nightmare

If you have cancer or had cancer you could find obtaining travel insurance a nightmare unless you end up with a specialist insurer. Most ordinary insurers won’t want to cover let properties with DSS or asylum seeker tenants. Also they don’t like it when they know that a previous insurer has cancelled or declined your policy or imposed special terms. If you have a bad claims history that could be a big problem.

When non-standard insurance makes sense

There will be instances when mainstream insurers will offer cover but it still makes sense to at least consider a specialist solution, for instance if you are a young driver, the property you own has a flat roof, or if you have a pre-existing medical condition which you want covered when travelling.

Some occupations are penalised when it comes to motor insurance, e.g. if you work in the licensing trade or are a journalist, night club bouncer or actor; or when it comes to van insurance, e.g. if you are a market trader or musician.

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When you should actively look for non-standard insurance

There are situations when looking for special cover should go to the top of your agenda, for instance if you are a female driver, or are over 60 and you want to travel – definitely if you are over 65. Yes you might get cover in the ordinary way but your cover may be much better and more competitive with a specialist insurer.

Don’t be annoyed if you are regarded as non-standard

It can be reasonable for an insurer to regard you as a special risk. You may think you are insuring something ordinary for an ordinary purpose but somewhere along the line it stops being ordinary, e.g. you use your 4x4 for off-road driving, or you frequently use your van for when you go fishing. If your own house or property which you rent out is left unoccupied for very long periods it is understandable that an insurer would see extra risks in this.

You may own an expensive cycle which you use for commuting to work and need roadside recovery, you may take your mountain bike abroad a lot for competitions. You may have a modified or imported car.

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Don’t regard being a non-standard risk as a disadvantage

There are times when you should make a virtue out of being a special risk, when it is an advantage to the insurer and you want to be rewarded for this. For instance, if you are an older driver – you will drive more safely and fewer miles. If you only want third party, fire and theft motor cover you will find there are a lot of specialist providers making this a very competitive area.

If you have professional tenants you should get special rates as they will be more reliable payers. You may live in a hostel which is locked up at night making it a much safer place for your contents.

Non-standard insurers want your business

Specialist insurers want your business; they exist to cover special risks. So whatever the risk you are likely to obtain adequate cover at an acceptable cost – and usually good cover at a very competitive price. You are not a second class insurance citizen – on the contrary, for specialist insurers you are their key type of customer.

You may have an occupation or activity which makes you a non-standard or special risk for insurance which you think is totally unconnected