Contents or Buildings? Which do these things fall under?

Sorry to ask another insurance question, but thought best to separate them as different questions.   
Are the following usually covered under buildings or contents?  

- Wood burners (the actual wood burner itself)
- Cooker (large range cooker, but freestanding, not in built).
- Cooker hood
- Dishwasher (integrated type, built into a bespoken fitted unit)
- Belfast sink (part of the same bespoke unit)
- A second Belfast sink (freestanding on brackets)
- Heating oil (the oil itself in the tank)

Any help very much appreciated. 

Many thanks 


  • MikeJXE
    MikeJXE Posts: 3,033
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    If the item is fixed it is part of building insurance 

    If not fixed it's contents 
  • Thanks, I've read that before, but consider the above list somewhere between.  

    Cooker hood is fixed to the wall, with a couple of screws.  So by that definition it's building.  But then a mirror fixed to the wall with a couple of screws, for example?  

    Wood burner is not fixed, it's freestanding.  But at over 100kg and as part of the heating system...  

    The sinks are freestanding/no fixed.  But then I've read elsewhere that sinks are part of buildings.

  • MikeJXE
    MikeJXE Posts: 3,033
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper

    It varies according to this article

    The latest Ombudsman News bulletin gives a useful insight into how the free disputes resolution service de termines where consumers have been unfairly treated and where insurers should stop shilly-shallying and pay up. "The way in which an insurance firm categorises items can sometimes appear to be illogical or, at the worst, a cynical attempt to avoid paying legitimate claims," the report says.

    The ombudsman's general approach is to regard all items that are fixed as "buildings" while the rest are "contents". So, for example, it would normally consider fitted wardrobes, fitted kitchens and built-in appliances to be covered under a buildings policy, whereas the contents policy would cover items of furniture and appliances that are free-standing or, if screwed to a wall, easily removable.

    It does, of course, take account of the definitions and exclusions in the disputed policy. But, if it considers that a firm's policy definition of an item as "contents" or "buildings" is unreasonable, and has led to a perverse and unfair result, it may require the firm to pay the claim. Take the case of a man with buildings insurance, but no contents policy who made a claim with his buildings insurer after a storm damaged his roof. The insurer agreed to repair the roof but turned down his claim for damage to his television aerial which was fixed to the roof. The company said that the aerial was only covered under its contents policy, which the claimant had not bought.

    The ombudsman service upheld the man's complaint and told the firm to meet the claim on the basis that it was neither fair nor reasonable to treat a permanently fixed aerial as "contents" even though, in keeping with widespread industry practice, the policy wording clearly stated that aerials were "contents".

    "Most people would regard such an aerial to be part of the building because it is permanently fixed and not readily removable - very few householders would ever think of climbing on the roof and dismantling the aerial in order to take it with them," says the report.

    "Moreover, an external aerial is far more likely to be damaged by the type of insured event that affects the structure of a building, such as lightning or a storm, than by the type of event that might damage contents. An other highlighted area of dispute concerns laminate wooden flooring that has become so popular with householders in recent years and whether it is "contents" or "buildings".

    In typical cases referred to the ombudsman service, the claimant only has contents cover. When a floor is accidentally damaged, the insurer refuses to meet the claim, insisting that laminate flooring is part of the building.

    Now, like the courts, the service follows industry convention and treats fitted carpets as contents, on the basis that, though most people leave them behind when they move home, there is the option to take them up relatively quickly and easily and have them re-laid, so they are removable.

    Indeed, complaints from householders, without contents insurance, who argue that their damaged carpets should be covered by their buildings insurance have recently been rejected.

    But, unlike a carpet, the service takes the view that most laminate flooring, where the individual planks are glued together and fixed under a skirting board or beading, is difficult to remove intact and has, essentially, become part of the building. So it is a fixture and fitting, not contents.

    There is an exception, however. "In some instances we may regard re-usable click-together laminate wooden flooring as 'contents'," the report says. "This type of flooring is no more fixed than a fitted carpet is. Indeed, we are aware that some of the more expensive products are specifically marketed as being 'easily transportable'."

    The report also takes a look at disputes that arise over items that would normally fall clearly into the category of buildings rather than contents, but which have been temporarily removed or are newly bought and not yet fitted. If such items are lost or damaged while they are being stored, can the policyholder make a claim under a contents policy or are they only covered as buildings?

    While the ombudsman's approach depends on the circumstances, in most instances it says it would expect the buildings insurer to cover parts of the building that have only been temporarily removed. But new items, which have not yet been fitted, should be treated as contents on the basis that they are the policyholder's personal possessions.

    In one case, a couple put in a claim under their contents policy after their garage roof collapsed in a storm and damaged a number of items kept in the garage. The insurer agreed to pay for all the damaged items except for a flat-packed conservatory which the couple had bought, but not assembled. The insurer insisted the conservatory was a "building" and was therefore only covered by its buildings policy which the couple did not have.

    The ombudsman service upheld the couple's complaint and told the insurer to pay up because the unassembled conservatory "could properly be said to be part of the couple's household contents. It had not yet been erected and comprised a collection of separate components, stored in boxes".

    Disputes may arise when householders have only one type of home insurance policy. Typically, flatowners only need a contents policy because their landlord is responsible for arranging buildings insurance to cover the whole block.

    Council tenants, similarly, only need to buy contents insurance to cover their personal possessions.

    In one case, for example, a council tenant, who had only contents insurance, bought some new kitchen units and had them fitted at her own expense. When they were damaged by an escape of water, she put in a claim which was turned down by her contents insurer who said the units were fixtures and fittings, so would only be covered under a buildings policy. She complained this was unfair as the units were her personal possessions.

    The ombudsman agreed that the kitchen units, though fitted, could fairly be regarded as personal possessions.

    The ombudsman service makes clear that: "The onus is on firms to ensure that the cover they sell is suitable for the needs and resources of their policyholders and that they understand what they are buying."

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