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Crime hotspots

crime hotspotsOne of the factors which has the biggest influence on the cost of home insurance is where you live. If your postcode is among those which have the highest level of recorded burglary, for example, you can expect your contents premiums to be significantly larger than if you lived elsewhere.

Insurers base the cost of cover on the likelihood of having to make a payout. So if the statistics suggest that your house or flat is more vulnerable to break-ins, you’ll have to pay extra for protection.

High-crime areas

So where are the UK’s burglary hotspots?

The most recently published British Crime Survey found that of all local authorities, the City of London suffered the greatest number of annual break-ins relative to population, with 46 burglaries over a 12-month period per every 1,000 residents.

However, the City is has quite a low number of permanent residents — even though it is one of the busiest parts of Britain during the working day, most people commute to work there — which probably helps skew these figures to a large extent.

The other areas on the list are:

Area Burglaries per 1,000 population
Burnley -              24.6
Manchester -        23.7
Nottingham -         22.3
Bristol -                20.6
Reading -              20.6
Leeds -                 20.5
North-east Lincs -  20.2
Ashfield, Notts -     20
Hull -                    19.7

But do not panic if you live in one of these areas: insurers set their home premiums based on crime statistics for specific postcodes rather than whole cities. So your premiums will not necessarily be very high if you live in Manchester or Nottingham: it will depend on the figures for your local area. Bear in mind also that insurers are more likely to rely on their own claims statistics when setting premiums, rather than using UK government figures.

So one company may have experienced a large number of burglary claims in a certain part of the country, which means it charges more for insurance in that area.
Other insurers may be cheaper.

This is why it is always a good idea to compare quotes from as wide a range as possible of providers, to ensure you are getting the best price available.

Areas with less burglary

The same set of figures from the British Crime Survey found the 10 areas with the lowest burglary rates. These were:

Area Burglaries per 1,000 population
Ceredigion                   2.8
Isles of Scilly -              2.9
North Cornwall -           3
Teesdale -                   3.5
Alnwick -                     3.5
West Devon -               3.6
Broadland -                  3.7
Copeland -                   3.7
South Lakeland -           3.8
Ribble Valley -              3.9

If you live in one of these parts of the country, the risk of burglary is not likely to have a large impact on your insurance premiums.

More checks to make

In February 2011, the Home Office started publishing more up-to-date crime statistics for the whole of Britain.

Individuals can now check the website to see month-by-month statistics for crime including burglary in their local areas. This can be useful if you are planning to move home, and want to see what sort of burglary risk your new flat or house would face.

It can also help explain why your home insurance premiums are higher than you had expected, for example.

How to cut your insurance costs

If you do live in an area that insurers consider a “burglary hotspot” — and are facing high contents insurance premiums — there are a number of steps you can take to keep your costs under control.

It follows that if your home is at greater risk of being broken into, you need to improve your security.

  • Locks: make sure all outside doors and patio windows have a good level of protection, with locks that are recognised by insurers. These could be locks that are given the BSI seal of approval, for example. You are likely to benefit from lower premiums if you have good-quality locks on your windows as well.

    But do not tell your insurer you have better locks than in actually the case: if you make a claim and the provider finds out, it could refuse to pay.

  • Alarms: Installing a burglar alarm can also help cut premiums — especially if it is monitored by a security company which can alert the police if necessary.
  • Extra steps: There are a number of other measures you can implement to stop intruders getting into your home, for example installing security lighting, or planting hedges or erecting fences that make it more difficult to get into your garden.

    These steps may not lead directly to lower premiums. But if they stop you being burgled, they can keep your insurance costs down in future, since your premiums would usually increase if you had to make a claim.

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