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There were a total of 5 900 cases of fire in buildings and 83 people lost their lives in fires in Finland in 2012.When applying for home insurance policies, there are a few things to keep in mind.

ALTHOUGH a voluntary expense, many count home insurance among their standard housing costs. In fact, home insurance is the most common voluntary insurance plan in Finland, according to a 2012 study by the Federation of Finnish Financial Services, with 86 per cent of the survey respondents (15-79 year olds) having a home insurance policy.

Moreover, the public holds an extremely favourable view of home insurance, as 92 per cent of the respondents of the same survey saw it as essential for any household. There are currently seven companies that offer home insurance, and about 2.5 million home insurance policies in total have been taken out. (The number of people with home insurance is lower as a person may have several policies.) The number has also kept growing over recent years.

When looking at homeowners and tenants separately, the study found that of the former, almost all – 96 per cent – have insured their homes. Of those renting, 67 per cent have insurance. The latter figure is on the rise, however, one likely factor being that more and more landlords require their tenants to take out a home insurance policy.

Home buyers or potential tenants usually get a reliable package of information about the appartments they are interested in, but insurance is their responsibility.Needs define policy

Regarding tenants, Päivi Vuorenmaa, Product Manager at the insurance company LähiTapiola, points out that some may be under the impression that an insurance policy taken by their landlord or housing cooperative covers also their needs. This is not the case, as the tenant’s belongings (furniture, bicycle) and interiors of the apartment (wallpaper, parquet) are covered only by the tenant’s own insurance, even if they were damaged because of a bigger accident in the building.

There are also other benefits to a home insurance policy: it usually includes liability insurance, covering damages that are incurred on third parties, and legal expenses insurance, which concerns juridical costs. However, all policies have restrictions with regard to their coverage and amount of compensation, points out Tuomas Korkeamäki, Head of Division at the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau.

When taking out an insurance policy, it is important to consider one’s needs as these ultimately define the content of the contract. “Different companies offer different plans, and it’s important to keep one’s needs in mind when looking at the content and prices of the different options.” Korkeamäki says. According to him, a good way to start when looking into taking out insurance is by getting offers from several companies.

Typically, when a detached house (omakotitalo) is insured, both the building and personal property inside are covered, whereas in an apartment the housing cooperative or the apartment’s owner has usually taken insurance that covers the real estate, but not the residents’ belongings. This, along with the size of the home, has a strong influence on the price of the insurance.

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TEEMU HENRIKSSON
HELSINKI TIMES
LEHTIKUVA / MIKKA LEHTIMÄKI / SARI GUSTAFSSON

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