HDB Fire Insurance vs Home Insurance: What's the difference?

hdb-fire-insurance-home-singapore

The recent fire breakout at Bukit Panjang taught us more than one thing: don't take fire hosereel cabinets in your apartment block for granted, and get insured.

On 23 June 2020, a fire broke out in a bedroom on the sixth floor of block 532 Jelapang Road. 80 People were evacuated, and in a video taken by a neighbour from the opposite block, huge flames and smoke could be seen, accompanied by loud explosive bangs.  

We don't know about you, but that looks pretty terrifying.

And guess what: according to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), there were 2,862 fire calls in 2019, an increase of 7.8% from 2,656 in 2018. Of those incidents, 58.1% took place in buildings. Specifically, 40.8% (or 1,168 cases) were in residential homes. Many of these fires were caused by unattended cooking and improperly disposed trash.

If the above statistics are alarming to you, ask yourself: are you sufficiently protected against fire accidents at home?  

Owners of HDB flats might remember purchasing a compulsory fire insurance when buying your home. However, the coverage for that isn't nearly as comprehensive as home insurance. So if the compulsory fire insurance is all you have, there's probably much more can do to prepare for the worst, and comprehensive home insurance could be the way to go.

 

An overview of HDB Fire insurance and home insurance

Here's an overview of the the key differences between HDB fire insurance and home insurance:
HDB Fire Home Insurance infographic singapore

 

HDB fire insurance vs home insurance: the key differences

If you own an HDB flat, you probably know that you’re covered by the compulsory HDB fire insurance scheme currently offered by FWD. However, the question is whether this is enough.

Many homeowners believe that this fire insurance covers you for all damages caused by a fire break out. This is incorrect. 

HDB fire insurance ⁠— compulsory, the bare minimum 

HDB fire insurance covers only damages to your flat’s structure, as well as fixtures and fittings provided by HDB. It does not cover renovations, furnishings, and your home’s contents. 

For these, you'll need to purchase home insurance with cover for your home's contents.

Home insurance that cover fires ⁠— more comprehensive, but more expensive too 

There are two generally two kinds of home insurance available:

  • Insured peril: This covers you for specific events or mishaps such as fires, floods, and thefts.
  • All risks: As implied by its name, this offers you protection for a wider range of situations. They are therefore usually more expensive.

 

Compulsory HDB fire insurance by FWD 

Even if you think the compulsory HDB fire insurance is enough, don't forget that you need to renew it every five years. Here's a guide on how to do that, and how much it costs. 

How do you purchase and/or renew your HDB fire insurance?

Every HDB flat purchase from HDB requires a mandatory HDB fire insurance purchase from the appointed insurer. Remember that the HDB fire insurance is only valid for a period of five years. Once it expires, you'll need to do your own renewal of the HDB fire insurance. 

Luckily, with the advancement of technology, renewing/purchasing HDB fire insurance is easier than ever – simply renew it on FWD’s website. You can also buy your HDB fire insurance via any AXS kiosk. Alternatively, if you refer a face-to-face meet up with an FWD representative instead, you can also head over to their office.  

How much does HDB fire insurance cost?

The cost of HDB fire insurance will be reviewed periodically by HDB. At the moment as of 16 August 2019 to 15 August 2024, the 5-year premium and sum assured for HDB fire insurance is listed below: 

1-room

$1.62

$29,000

2-room/ 2-room Flexi

$2.71

$48,700

3-room

$4.87

$60,400

4-room/ S1

$5.94

$82,000

5-room/ S2/ 3-Generation

$7.13

$97,300

Executive/ Multi-Generation

$8.10

$106,200

Studio Apartment (Type A/ B)

$2.71

$48,700

 

Types of home insurance that cover fires 

If you think that you'd like more protection, just in case, there are two generally two kinds of home insurance that cover your home for fires:

Insured peril: This covers you for specific events or mishaps such as fires, floods, and thefts.

All risks: As implied by its name, this offers you protection for a wider range of situations. They are therefore usually more expensive.

Coverage may differ across different home content insurance policies. But in general, these areas are covered:

What home insurance covers

Fitting, fixtures, and renovation work

HDB’s fire insurance covers only the flat’s original physical structure, as well as fixtures and fittings.

Home insurance can cover renovations you’ve done, along with fixtures and fittings you’ve installed.

Contents of your home

This includes household items and appliances such as televisions, refrigerators, and computers etc.

HDB fire insurance does not cover for the contents of your home.

Personal items, money, and valuables

There is typically a cap on much you can claim for each item type.

HDB fire insurance does not cover for the loss of personal content due to fire.

Alternative accommodation

If your home becomes inhabitable, you will most likely need to find a temporary place to stay. Home insurance provides a daily payout to pay for alternative accommodation. However, this is usually limited to a specific number of days.

If you only have HDB fire insurance, you will need to pay for the temporary accommodation out of your own pocket.

Personal accident for you, your family, and domestic helper

These individuals will be covered for medical expenses or a payout in the case of death or disability. This coverage could come as part of a purchased plan, or as an add-on.

 As you would already have guessed, HDB fire insurance doesn’t cover this.

Personal liability

This protects you if you become legally liable for certain mishaps and incidents at home. For example, in the very unlikely event your fridge topples over and hurts a guest, you could be held liable.

HDB fire insurance doesn’t cover any personal liability in the event that guests are hurt at your home.

Pets

This usually applies only for dogs and cats, and to certain breeds and pedigrees. Depending on your insurer, this may be an add-on.

HDB fire insurance won’t pay you for losses incurred if your pet happens to be caught in the fire.

Pets can be covered by home insurance

Your beloved pets can be covered, too.

 

PMD-related fires on the rise, highlighting the importance of home insurance 

While Singapore is generally safe from natural disasters, there are no shortage of scenarios that call for home insurance.

Kitchen fires could damage structures such as water piping, appliances, and electrical wiring. Flooding may be another concern. Burst pipes could flood your toilet and nearby areas, even your neighbour’s property, and total repairs could cost up to $25,000.

Recently, there has also been a rise in fires caused by personal mobility devices (PMDs), such as the one that caused the deadly blaze at Bukit Batok. According to the same SCDF 2019 report, there has been an upwards trend of PMD-related fires since 2015. In 2019, there was a sharp increase of 96.2% of PMD-related fires from the year before. This highlights the growing importance of getting your home protected via insurance.

Not only will such situations could cause a serious dent in your finances, you may also be liable for damage to a neighbour's property. If you only had HDB fire insurance, you will be looking at a huge financial loss that can’t be covered by insurance. As such, it is always advisable to err on the side of caution and get your home insured.

 

What to consider when buying home insurance

Like most forms of insurance, the cheapest policy or the one with the greatest coverage may not be ideal for you. You should always make sure you’re not over or under-insuring.

If you’re staying in a smaller flat like a studio apartment or 2-room flat, it’s probably not prudent to put a large hole in your wallet for home insurance, especially if you rent a separate storage space for your more valuable items, or do not keep valuables in your home. Conversely, consider forking out a bit more if you’re staying in larger property such as a maisonette or semi-detached.  

Your lifestyle needs and priorities for coverage are other factors to keep in mind. If getting personal accident coverage for your family members is more important to you, you’d be looking at a different plan from someone who lives alone with a pet. You should be able to customize your plan accordingly through the many riders offered by insurers. Just make sure they are within your budget.  

 

Who can you buy home insurance from?

While there is only one appointed HDB fire insurance insurer, there are plenty of insurers that are licensed to sell you home insurance policy.

Disclaimer: The information below is correct as of 12 Dec 2019, and is meant as a guide to help homeowners budget for home insurance. For the latest coverage information and promotions, please check the individual insurers websites. 

FWD

Homeowner

FWD’s home insurance ranges from $20,000 to $100,000 content coverage

Discounted premium if you pay for 2 years

NTUC Income

Enhanced homeowner

Up to $100,000 building coverage +

Customizable home content coverage (max: $200,000) and renovation coverage (max: $500,000) 

15% off if you purchase a 3-year policy

MSIG

Basic home insurance

Enhanced HomePlus

Customizable building coverage + $50,000 to $120,000 for home content + $75,000 to $150,000 for renovation coverage

 

AXA

AXA SmartHome Essential

AXA SmartHome Comprehensive

Up to $100,000 building coverage + content coverage + renovation coverage

40% off promotion till 31st May 2020

Aviva

Aviva HomeLite

Aviva Home

Aviva HomePlus

$35,000 content coverage + $75,000 renovation coverage

$50,000 content coverage + $100,000 renovation coverage

$100,000 content coverage + $100,000 renovation coverage

15% discount for a 3-year policy

Chubb

Simply Home® Enhanced

Up to $180,000 coverage on home contents, building structure and renovation

 

Tiq (eTiQa)

Tiq Home

Up to $120,000 coverage on home contents + up to $100,000 building structure + up to $180,000 renovation

Multiple add-ons for:

  • Multi-appliances Home Protector
  • Accidental Injury for Pet
  • Family Accidental Death Protection

POSB

myHome Protect (Classic, Premium, Ultimate)

$90,000 to $190,000 coverage on renovation

$40,000 to $130,000 coverage on home content

 

IKEA

HEMSÄKER

$50,000 coverage on renovation

$50,000 coverage on home content

 

AIA

AIA Elite Home Care (Standard, Premium, Elite)

$80,000 to $260,000 coverage on building

$16,000 to $37,000 coverage on home content

 

Great Eastern

Great Home (Starter, Essential, Ultimate)

$75,000 to $250,000 coverage on renovation and home content

 

Sompo

HomeBliss (Cosy, Serene, Luxury)

$80,000 to $200,000 coverage on building, renovation 

$20,000 to $60,000 coverage on home content

 

HL Assurance

Home ProtectLite

Home Protect360 (Silver, Gold, Platinum)

$50,000 coverage on renovation and home content

$100,000 to $300,000 coverage on renovation and home content

50% off yearly premium promotion

Table 3 – Home insurance plan providers in Singapore

 

How much does home insurance cost?

If you’re looking at really basic coverage, the NTUC Income Enhanced Insurance Standard plan costs $35 to $75 a year depending on your flat size, with $30,000 to $70,000 in building coverage and $22,000 to $50,000 in contents coverage. If you live in private property, the yearly premium could start at about $120.

One of the more expensive plans would be the HLAS Home Protect 360 Silver Plan. At about $250 annually, you get $100,000 in building coverage and $100,000 in contents coverage.

Do note that some plans offer lower premiums if you sign up for a certain number of years. Regardless, you should factor in home insurance premiums as part of the costs that go into owning your home.

 

Scrimping on your HDB fire insurance or home insurance premium isn’t the best way to save money.

Smart home refinancing is the shrewder way of saving money. That’s because what you save from smart home refinancing will be more than enough to cover your home insurance premiums for a few years. So, what are you waiting for? Do some smart refinancing today!

 

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