Glasses on! Here are a few tips on what to watch out for to make sure you don't invalidate your home insurance policy.
Know Your Insurance Policy
With any contract it’s important to read the small print, and home insurance policies are no different.
The best way to avoid accidentally invalidating a claim is to familiarise yourself with your policy.
After all, you’ll be paying out for years to protect your property, so it makes sense to know exactly what’s covered and exactly what might invalidate any future claims.
Tips to keep your policy valid
Here are some examples of the type of small print found in home insurance policies.
1. Leaving windows open or not locking windows where locks are fitted.
Always close and lock windows in unoccupied rooms. During the summer, use a fan or a/c rather than exposing yourself to theft.
2. If a burglar is able to gain unforced access to your home, your insurer may not pay out on your full claim.
Never leave spare keys hidden outside the house as your policy may be void if a burglar uses them. Also, any dog flap should be too small for anyone to gain access – if it’s not, this may also void a claim.
3. Your insurer may reduce or refuse any payout if your locks are described incorrectly on the policy.
Correctly describe the locks when filling in your home insurance application form. Inform your insurer whenever locks are upgraded.
Take a look at our guide to different lock types if you need more information.
4. If you have a burglar alarm but don’t use it, your insurance company may not pay out on burglary claims.
Activate your alarm whenever you leave your home, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
5. Thefts must be reported to the police in order to obtain a crime number. Failure to do so could result in claim rejection.
Report all thefts to the police as soon as possible and get a crime number.
6. Failure to secure valuables in the garden that are not specifically covered by the policy.
Check what is insured for use in the garden.
Extend your policy to include valuables like barbeques and lawn mowers which are likely to be outside during hot weather.
7. Not securing tools that are then used to break into the house.
Secure tools like ladders, hammers and wrenches within a garage, secure shed or your home.
8. Failing to notify your insurer that builders are on-site.
If you suffer accidental damage (e.g. to a load-bearing wall, power line or water pipe) the insurer may either refuse to pay for the claim, or only pay a reduced amount.
Tell your insurer when builders will be on-site.
This may incur a temporary increase in your premium to cover any accidental damage.
9. Any claim made during a period when the house is left unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days may be voided.
Arrange for someone to stay one night within any 30-day period to reset the count.
10. If you use your home as a place of business, an increase in visits from people is assumed, thus increasing the likelihood of theft and other associated claims.
Even though your premiums may increase slightly, declare to your insurer from the outset that you are using your home as a base for your business.
Take a look at our guide to home insurance for home-based workers if you need more information.