Bulgarian property insurance

As with many of the financial products and services in Bulgaria, the insurance market is relatively immature. Many Bulgarians do not take out property insurance, but it is prudent to do so, even if it is only basic buildings cover. Buildings and contents insurance is normally offered separately.

Bulgarian property insurance

Basic buildings insurance covers events such as fire and flooding. Cover may be extended to include landslides and earthquakes. Contents insurance is significantly more expensive than basic buildings cover.The standard Bulgarian contents insurance policies generally cover only furniture and electrical goods. You are advised to make a photographic record of all of the items you wish to insure and note down their serial numbers where possible. You will also be expected to write down the estimated replacement value of each item. Valuables such as jewellery may also be insured, but these are covered by more specific, more expensive policies. To insure any of the items listed on your contents policy against burglary you may need to take out a separate policy.

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If your property is unoccupied for extended periods, the contents insurance policy may become void. Check the policy of each insurance company on this. Buildings insurance is not compromised in this way, however. If you have tenants in your property then your contents policy should remain valid, but be aware that if any tenants suffer damage because of an accident, such as a boiler exploding, then you as the owner could be liable for paying damages to the tenant. To protect yourself against this, you should take out what is commonly referred to as a ‘third person liability’ insurance policy. These policies are more expensive than normal cover.

There are now over 20 major companies offering insurance in Bulgaria, some of which are of international origin, such Allianz. Broadly speaking, the Bulgarian insurance companies are slightly cheaper.The forms to apply for your policy are available direct from the offices of the insurance companies. Some offer online forms for printing off yourself. These are some insurance companies in Bulgaria that have information online in English:

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• Bulstrad

• DZI

• Generali

• Victoria Insurance

• Uniqa

Make any claim as soon as possible after the event that has resulted in you claiming. In case of burglary or fire, the police should be notified immediately, since you will require documentation from the police in support of your claim. Send claim forms via registered post.

Protecting your house in Bulgaria

Particularly if you intend being away from your property for extended periods, it would be prudent to arrange some form of security in addition to your insurance policy. You might consider keeping the value of fittings, furnishings and equipment to a minimum – do you really need a plasma TV or a dishwasher? -although this is not always practicable. Ensure that all doors and windows are locked. Consider bars for windows and doors, some of which should be open-able in case of fire during occupancy, or fitted shutters with locks. A burglar alarm will unnerve the thief and alert the neighbours. Make sure to inform the neighbours of what you would like them to do if the alarm goes off, and leave your telephone contact details. You may also use timers that switch on appliances such as lamps and the radio when you are away, to give the impression that someone is inside. In the garden, lights that are activated by movement will also help deter intruders.

Bulgarian traditional house

The next level of protection is to use the services of a security company. Not all areas are covered by this service, and it is rarely available in rural areas unless

the village is close to a town. Services are offered either by private companies or through the local police station (through a service commonly referred to as SOD). Both offer comparable services. If an alarm is activated, a signal is sent to the security company or the police and a car will be dispatched. Again, ensure that you leave all contact details with them; it is useful to nominate a local representative who can handle matters in the event of burglary and lodge a claim in your absence. Prices for subscription to the service average around 50 leva (£17) per month. You have the option of paying the one-off installation cost of the equipment, which costs around 300 leva (£100) and means you pay slightly less each month, but most people prefer to have the system included in the subscription package, in which case it will be removed on termination of your subscription.The security company can also install a panic button (in some cases, free of charge), which will give you further peace of mind.

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In addition to these measures, it is a good idea to become acquainted with your neighbours and make local friends who can monitor your property while you are away. You might consider engaging someone to act as a caretaker of the house and ensure that the garden is well maintained, which will give potential burglars the impression that the property is occupied or at least being looked after. You should also install smoke alarms in your property and check them regularly. And when you first move into your house, possibly when the builders move out,you would be wise to change the locks.

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