Homeowners may think that locking the doors and windows of their property is enough to keep it safe from burglars but is it?
Most homes usually have several keys covering front doors, back doors, side doors, and windows as well as garages, sheds and outbuildings.
But with so many keys to keep track of, it could be easy for one to end up in the wrong hands. And if this does happen, and someone breaks into your home using a key, will your home insurance cover you?
The answer is no, according to insurer Churchill, which confirms that for burglary claims to be paid out, forced entry must be proven so a homeowner would not be covered if a key is used.
Maybe you, or your child, lost a key and it was traced back to your home. Or you may have given a key to a friend, neighbour or ex partner.
Either way, The Association of British Insurers (ABI) say policies usually exclude theft by members of the family, and this could extend to an ex-partner or neighbour if a key has been given to them by you.
A number of other insurers also say a break-in or burglary of this type would be treated as an act of deception, rather than theft, and as such may not be covered under a home insurance policy.
And the ABI say that in the event that money is stolen there must be signs of forced entry.
But if you are unlucky enough to be burgled by someone who has gained entry using a key, some insurers – including the Co-operative - will look at the case ‘favourably’.
Their home insurance also covers the cost of replacing and installing locks: “Keeping keys safe is extremely important, if you lose or have your door key stolen, it can be tempting to simply get another cut and forget about the lost one.
“However there is always a chance that your key could be traced back to your address at a later date therefore it is extremely important to have your locks changed.”
The overall message then is to check your policy as the small print may differ from insurer to insurer - some might cover you, others won’t. But it’s worth bearing in mind when you dish out spare keys.
Remember to lock up
To make a claim if your home is burgled with no signs of forced entry, it is even more important to show you have done everything to secure your home.
It may be like living in Fort Knox but, should someone attempt a break in, with or without a key, your insurer will want to know if you’re house was adequately secured before paying out.
According to the ABI, many home insurance policies require certain locks to be fitted and the insurer could decline a claim if a burglary happens as a result of them not being used.
Before you go away
If you are planning to go travelling and leave your home unoccupied while you do, be aware that a lot of home insurance policies won’t cover you for any incidents if you’re away for an extended period, usually over 30 days.
The British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) say: “If a policyholder is due to be away from their home for more than 30 days then they MUST inform their insurance broker/company.
Policies differ but it is likely certain conditions will need to be met, for example having a friend, relative or neighbour inspect the property every seven days.”
“Insurers may even ask for specific measures, such as turning the water off in winter and keeping heating to 10 degrees C minimum.”
And the usual crime prevention advice also applies, such as cancel newspaper deliveries, secure the property and use any automatic light timers.