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

·11-min read
HDB Fire Insurance vs Home Insurance: What's the Difference?
HDB Fire Insurance vs Home Insurance: What's the Difference?

The recent fire breakout at Telok Blangah on 6 September 2021 saw over a hundred residents evacuated. Pictures of the blackened corridor and charred remains of plant pots were all that's left. The fire was fuelled by cardboard boxes, furniture and other items which cluttered the common corridor unit.

If anything, it's taught us more than one thing: don't accumulate clutter, take fire hose reel cabinets in your apartment block for granted, and get fire insurance.

According to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), they responded to 1,877 fire calls in 2020. While this number is a decrease of 34.4% from 2,862 calls in 2019, that's still a lot of fires. Fires by electrical origin were the leading cause of fires (545 cases or 29% of all the fires), followed by fires caused by overheating food (416 cases or 22.2% of all fires).

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 compulsory fire insurance when buying their homes. However, the coverage for that isn't nearly as comprehensive as home insurance. So if this is the only fire insurance 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 key differences between HDB fire insurance and home insurance:

HDB Fire Home Insurance infographic singapore
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 when a fire breaks 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 insurance via any AXS kiosk. Alternatively, if you prefer 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 is listed below:

HDB Flat Type

HDB Fire Insurance 5-Year Premium (Including 7% GST)

HDB Fire Insurance Sum Insured

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

Source: HDB

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
Pets can be covered by home insurance

Your beloved pets can be covered, too.

PMD-related Fires Decreased from 2019, but Fires Involving PABs Doubled

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.

Related article: HDB Ceiling Leaks and Water Seepage: Who’s Responsible?

While fires caused by personal mobility devices (PMDs) have dipped a significant 40.9%, (dropping from 115 cases in 2019 to 68 cases in 2020), there has been an upwards trend of Power Assisted Bicycles (PAB)-related fires. Cases doubled from 13 cases in 2019 to 26 cases in 2020.

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 insurer's websites.

Insurance company that sells home insurance

Home insurance plan name

Sum assured range

Remarks

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:

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

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

Paying for any type of insurance, especially in one lump sum, can cause a significant dent in your finances. It can be tempting to scrimp on HDB fire insurance because fires aren't exactly an everyday, common occurence.

And no, screaming, "Choy, touch wood" is not a legit way of warding off fires.

If you want to really save, you can look into home refinancing. It's 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.

Related article: “We Always Knew We Were Paying More”: After 9 Years, This Couple Finally Decided to Refinance their HDB Loan

Not sure where to start? Speak to our friendly home finance advisors for some smart refinancing tips at zero cost!

More FAQs about Fire Insurance in Singapore

Is Fire Insurance Mandatory in Singapore?

HDB HIP is an upgrading work that is heavily subsidised by HDB to refurbish and maintain older flats.

How Much Is Fire Insurance in Singapore?

Depending on your fire insurance plans, this amount varies. Under HDB’s compulsory insurance scheme, it only costs between $1.62 to $8.10 for a 5-year period.

What Does HDB Fire Insurance Cover?

The cost of reinstating damaged internal structures, fixtures, areas built and provided by HDB only. Your furniture, renovations and personal belongings are not covered.

Is HDB Fire Insurance Compulsory?

Yes, and you need to reapply every five years.

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