3 min read

The Complete Home Insurance Guide for Retirees


February 27, 2024

By First For Women

Reaching retirement is a milestone that brings significant lifestyle changes. A shift from active employment to a more relaxed pace of life is the most notable change, but there are other changes, too. Together, these warrant careful re-consideration of various aspects of your life, including your Home Insurance. 1st for Women recognises the importance of adapting your insurance policy to align with your evolving lifestyle. That’s why we have compiled this guide to help you prepare for the changes retirement brings.

How retirement changes your lifestyle

Retirement doesn't simply mean you are no longer employed full-time. There is that, of course, but you should also expect other lifestyle changes that could impact your daily living, financial planning and social interactions.

One of the first changes you will experience is the disappearance of your daily interactions with colleagues. To avoid a sense of isolation, it is essential that you work on new social connections and spend more time engaging with old friends. If you use the extra time you suddenly have on new hobbies, travel, volunteering or even a part-time job, you'll have no difficulty establishing new connections. However, all of this occurs within the limits of a more tightly managed budget.

Another immediate change when you retire is the loss of your regular monthly income from your job. In 2022, South Africa's population included over five million people aged 60 or older. Many retirees might want to remain in their current home that is familiar and where they are comfortable. However, a 2022 survey revealed that only one-third of individuals aged 50 and above felt confident that their savings would last for their entire retirement period. For some retirees, there might be better cost benefits in downsizing or moving into a retirement village.

Changes in social interactions and living arrangements are not the only challenges you need to consider. As you get older, you may also have to contend with age-related health concerns becoming more prominent. A comprehensive medical aid and an effective support system can help with this, but you also need to consider how this may influence your living arrangements.

Regardless of what your living arrangements end up being in retirement, the need for House Insurance remains. However, your new lifestyle does necessitate a fresh look at your policy and cover, which could bring about a welcome reduction in your premium.

Home Insurance considerations for retirees

As your lifestyle changes, so do your Home Insurance needs. This is never more pronounced than in retirement. It is essential that all changes are communicated to your insurer as they happen — from your actual retirement through to changes to your home and personal belongings.

As a retiree, you may end up travelling extensively. Being away from home for extended periods changes your risk profile, which can be mitigated by additional security measures. You also need to consider the impact of alterations to your home and House Insurance, whether for operating a home-based business or to keep your house user-friendly as you get older. Communicating with your insurer and reviewing and updating your policy regularly is the only way to ensure you always have appropriate coverage — both before and during retirement.

Home modifications for safety and accessibility

You want your home to be safe, comfortable and accessible. As you age, you might need to modify your home to better accommodate your changing mobility and health needs. Some changes would be simple, such as:

  • Installing brighter motion-sensor lights for ease and better visibility.

  • Using a smart speaker or voice-activated assistant to make it easier to set reminders, control other smart devices and make phone calls.

  • Installing a new security system that can be controlled remotely, with cameras that can be accessed via a smartphone.

Others will require a little more effort, such as:

Replacing slippery flooring with non-slip options and removing trip hazards like rugs or uneven flooring.

  • Ramps in place of some stairs and a stairlift if your home has multiple levels.

  • A walk-in bathtub or shower to reduce the risk of falls.

  • Grab bars and railing near the toilet, shower or bathtub for added support and balance.

  • Lowered cabinets and pull-out shelves to make storage more accessible.

Regardless of the modifications you make, it is essential that you discuss them with your insurer. If you’re concerned about the impact of alterations on your insurance premium, another viable option is to downsize. This also gives you the opportunity to find a home that is already more accessible, thus requiring fewer changes.

Downsizing for retirement and its impact on your Home Insurance

Downsizing is a common step for retirees — swapping a larger home for a smaller, more manageable house, apartment, or retirement community. Even if it’s something you have decided and planned for in advance, the process can still be stressful, and it’s easy to forget that this decision doesn't only affect your lifestyle but also your Homeowners Insurance.

The location and other features of your new home could affect your risk profile, which could, in turn, influence your monthly premiums. The property value on smaller homes is usually lower, too, and the lower cost to rebuild or repair could reduce your insurance needs.

It is essential that when you update your insurance with the details of your new property, you also update your home inventory. Downsizing usually means having fewer possessions, as you get rid of excess furniture and other belongings before you move. You are likely to need less coverage for personal property after downsizing, which could further reduce your insurance premiums.

Not all lifestyle changes that follow retirement have a positive impact on your risk profile and insurance premium. You should also consider occupancy changes brought about by increased time away from home when travelling.

Estate planning and Home Insurance

Home Insurance has an indirect — and often overlooked — role in your estate planning. Estate planning is all about documenting how your assets should be distributed when you pass away. Your home and its contents often make up a significant portion of your estate.

With adequate Homeowners Insurance, you're able to ensure that the value of your property is protected against fire, natural disasters or theft, thus preserving the worth of your assets for your beneficiaries. It is also recommended that you include details of existing policies in your estate planning. This allows your beneficiaries to adjust coverage and other details once the property is transferred.

The importance of regular policy reviews

Regular reviews of your Home Insurance are crucial, with the ideal schedule being yearly. It is an opportunity to check that your coverage is adequate, reducing the risk of being over or under-insured. However, once you retire, changes to your lifestyle can be more significant, thereby raising the importance of regular policy reviews.

The first of these should happen when you retire: inform your insurer that you have retired. This is also an opportunity for you to discuss significant changes, both planned and completed and how these might affect your coverage.

Then, as new changes occur, you should again review and update your policy. Changes could include making alterations to your home, moving, acquiring or disposing of valuable items, and changes to your driving and home occupancy patterns. In addition, if you’re concerned about the cost of your insurance, you should get other Home Insurance quotes to compare.

Get a 1st for Women insurance quote

Your Home Insurance should align with your lifestyle and needs at all stages of your life. However, it's vital to understand that in retirement, changes to your lifestyle and needs could be more significant. 1st for Women offers tailored insurance solutions that understand and cater to the unique needs of women in South Africa. Contact us for a Home Insurance quote today and take the first step towards a worry-free retirement.

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