When disaster hits our homes, there is little more that can impact us at such a level. Our homes are the most important investment many of us will make.
Thankfully, the introduction of home insurance almost 300 hears ago means the public have felt safe in the knowledge of being financially covered in the worst-case scenario. Or are we?
Many of us make sure to read our policies and scrutinise our coverage, but when you get down to the fine print, you may discover there are circumstances that could invalidate your home insurance.
Below is a list of the most common of these circumstances that see insurance companies able to avoid paying out when you make a claim, of which you may be unaware of.
Renewal and Restoration
Two-fifths of Britons are now choosing to renovate their homes rather than move house. Not only does this add value, but it also gives your home a new lease of life.
But if you are planning on making any changes, alert your insurance provider. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, your property’s security can be at risk, as walls are being knocked down and entrances left open during construction, this provides easier access to potential thieves.
Secondly, construction workers gaining access to your property throughout the day can also be deemed a risk as they may also have access to your valuables. If they have not forced entry and helped themselves to something, you will not be covered.
If you are making small changes, like new kitchen cabinets or bathroom suite, your insurer probably won’t need to know about this. However, if you are making structural changes or significant renovations that can change the value, let them know. Your policy may need altering to reflect the new value of your home.
Not Locking Up
It may seem obvious to us all to lock our doors when we go out but statistics show 15% of burglars enter through an unlocked window. If anyone is able to enter your property without force, your policy is very likely to be invalidated.
Even if you are just popping round the corner for milk or taking the dog for a walk, ensure all doors and windows are locked securely. Burglars are opportunists and can enter and leave within a matter of minutes.
Exaggerating Your Wealth
Few of us will ever know the exact worth of all our possessions. When taking out a new policy, you will most likely be asked the value of your contents and many will hazard a guess. The average value of a home’s contents in the UK is £35,000 but this does not mean your home is the same.
If you exaggerate the cost, even if by accident, your policy may become void and end up costing you, should anything happen in the future.
Take time to evaluate your content and pay particular attention to high-value items such as jewellery as they may need to be declared separately.
Blame It On The Dog
We are a nation of dog lovers, it is estimated that 26% of households have at least one canine companion living with them. This equals around 9.9 million dogs in the UK and also 9.9 million potential void insurance policies.
As much as we would love to spend every moment with or pooches, it is not always possible and they do need to be kept at home alone sometimes. To keep them active and enriched, many of us have installed dog flaps so man’s best friend can enjoy our garden when they please.
But these can be seen as a security risk. As these flaps are large, not only do they allow access, they also compromise the integrity of our doors. Although installing one does not always invalidate your home insurance, it is always best to declare this addition to your provider.
Becoming A Landlord
A great way of making some extra cash nowadays is to rent out our spare bedrooms, 3% of us are now doing so. This can be seen as another security risk to insurance companies.
Another adult having a set of keys and access to your home and possessions can pose a threat to your property. Even if this new lodger is your best friend, your provider may not take kindly to them being there.
Always declare a new occupant before they move in, you may be required to change your policy but it will protect you in the long-run should anything happen.
A brilliant way of modernising your home, while adding value, is updating your doors and windows. In most cases, fitting new panes will increase security and may even bring your premium down.
Even if you believe these changes have no impact on the security of your home, you should still notify your insurer. Upon taking your initial policy out, it is likely your provider will have asked what locks are on your home and changes in this can void your policy if they are not aware.
It is not just the new door and windows, but also who fitted them. Make sure you use a reputable contractor and obtain FENSA certificates to provide to your insurer.
Snapping Those Selfies
Social media is a great way to share our adventures with our friends and families and we are all a little guilty of gloating about our holidays online.
However, insurance providers do not take kindly to these photos being shared across these platforms and can even deny a claim if you share these at the wrong time.
This is because it is deemed as voiding the clause that you must take ‘reasonable care’ to ensure the security of your home. There is a direct link between families sharing holiday pictures in real-time and burglaries as this is advertising to the web that your property is vacant.
Next time you take a vacation, make sure you share your memories when you have returned back to your home.
We all need to escape from reality and take holidays throughout the year and insurers understand that. If you are going away for a few weeks, you do not need to declare this.
However, if you are leaving for longer periods, your policy is very likely to be invalidated if you do not announce this. The typical period is 30 days or over, but this can vary between policies.
Providers are still willing to cover you when the property is vacant for such a period, providing you have been honest beforehand. You may be required to take out unoccupied property insurance, but will be worth the spend should anything happen.