Home insurance in Qatar – is it really necessary?

Before most of us moved to Qatar, having insurance for our homes and personal possessions would have been automatic – a ‘no-brainer’ you might say. If you had a mortgage the lender might have insisted on property insurance to protect their interest. This in turn would mean you would have arranged a Home Content policy to protect your personal possessions, so if there was an incident such as burglary or fire in your home, your possessions were insured and they could be replaced, financially at least.

Then you move to Qatar. Good job, great money, no tax and sometimes rented accommodation provided – so do you really need home insurance?

The incidence of burglary in Qatar is so small it is hardly worth mentioning, unless unfortunately it happens to you! However, it has been known for there to be fire and smoke damage due to faulty air conditioners, possibly leading to the fire department having to be called out.

If you’re ‘lucky’ the least that will happen is that your clothes and furniture are ruined. And while this is horrible situation to be in, there is the thought that things will be okay, because the landlord’s insurance will cover everything.

Unfortunately you would probably be wrong. In the event that your landlord has insurance it would be for the property, not for the tenant, meaning your possessions would not be insured. And remember, the situation may be worse if you take a property that is fully furnished – you could also be responsible for any damage to the provided furniture as well.

There are some fabulous apartments available in Doha, providing all the conveniences that money can buy, but if your upstairs neighbour leaves his bath tap running and it leaks into the new 55-inch curved screen TV or the gaming system, can you claim against your neighbours insurance? If he has some, then possibly yes. But if you haven’t got insurance, is it likely they have?

Getting home insurance in Qatar is not difficult. It is a lot less complicated than arranging car insurance, and is a lot cheaper than you might expect. Most insurance companies will offer a policy of sorts online.

The problem is they are not all the same – or are they? Consider these points when contemplating home insurance: Is the policy you need the one that they advertise on their web pages? Does it cover all the things you need covered? And most importantly, have you filled out their questionnaire correctly?

The insurance companies will take your completed application form and your premium and then, in the event of a claim they will look at the application form. If, for example, you didn’t tick box A (you meant to but forgot), that could well mean that your new Armani suit that was ruined by smoke damage is not covered. Or maybe you didn’t select the ‘Away from Home’ option so your diamond engagement ring was not covered against ‘Mugging’ while being worn on your recent visit to London.

To be fair, it is not always the fault of the insurance companies. They (hopefully!) will explain how their application form needs to be completed and they state in all the cautionary notices about incorrect information invalidating any future claims.

But with your hectic lifestyle, do you really have the time to read all that small print? And anyway, it is not likely to happen to you, is it?

Should you use an insurance broker?

What does an insurance broker actually do? Unlike the insurance companies, the insurance broker works for you. They will look at what you think you need, they will possibly point out areas that maybe you also need insurance cover for, and then, using their knowledge of what the local insurers provide, they will suggest the best and most cost effective cover for you.

A good broker will go through all the application forms with you and when the policy documents are issued by the insurance company, he will check through the documents to make sure you are getting what you have paid for.

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In addition, and possibly most importantly, your insurance broker will be on hand should you need to claim against the policy they have recommended. Most of the time, an insurance company will pay out immediately for a valid claim, but sometimes it might not be as clear cut so an insurance broker, working for you, will be able to get through the insurance ‘double-talk’ and get matters resolved quickly, especially when you need it done ‘ASAP’.

In Qatar, an insurance broker should not need to charge you for their services, as they are paid by way of commission from the insurance company. However, does that mean that they will ‘steer’ clients to the insurance company that pays them the most? Well, that could happen but if you use a broker that comes recommended as truly independent, it’s you who are getting the best deal, not the broker.

Don’t think that good brokers are altruistic though; a good broker will want you to recommend them again and again. And remember, Doha is sometimes like a big village: say something good about a broker, it gets around. Say something bad, that gets around too …

How to find an insurance broker

All insurance brokers in Qatar are either licensed with the Ministry of Economy & Commerce, or regulated by the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA), so make sure when you are looking for a broker to check their Company Registration Number or their Authorisation Number from the QFCRA. The safest way to find a good broker is by personal recommendation, but if you are new to Qatar simply go into Qatar Yellow Pages and look up Insurance Brokers – Doha, or use the listings below.

Remember, make a list of your possessions and roughly work out the replacement cost, mark on the list items that are individually quite valuable, for example over QR5,000, then make the call and insure first, before you have a problem!

Feature written with the assistance of Andrew Kerton, CEO of Insure First, Insurance & Reinsurance Brokers.

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