To many of us, our home is one of the most important elements of our lives and protecting it is just as important. In the event of a disaster to our house or belongings, home insurance has always provided the peace of mind we need to know we are financially covered.
But are you aware of what could invalidate your home insurance and give providers the chance to avoid a pay-out should you make a claim?
Below are 8 things to look out for when taking out your policy to avoid any nasty surprises in the future.
1. Room Rentals
If you have a spare room in your property, it is very common to rent this out as a great way to generate some more income. Around 3% of households in the UK do just this, but have you checked the small print of your policy before doing so?
Many providers won’t offer a policy if a room is rented as this can compromise the security of your home and possessions. Even if your tenant is a trusted friend, insurance providers will see potential threats with an unknown adult having a set of keys to your home.
It is best to notify your provider if you plan to rent a room out, they may need to alter your policy or premium but it means you are covered.
2. Dog Flaps
Having a dog is becoming increasingly popular and we all want to ensure our four-legged friends can enjoy the most from our home. This could mean installing a dog flap so your pooch can play in the garden when you are out.
However, a dog flap could compromise your door’s security, not only in its structure but also the size. Nimble burglars could use these as a point of entry to your home. Although not all insurance providers will need to know about this, it is best to give them a call before installing a dog flap.
3. Exaggerating Assets
When taking our your policy, you are asked the value of your contents should they need replacing. But many of us have no idea what our items are actually worth. The average household’s content is around £30,000, but this doesn’t mean yours is the same.
Overestimating the value of your possessions, whether deliberately or not, could cause you problems when you come to claim. Take the time to really evaluate the value of your contents, providers are not expected an exact number but as close as possible.
4. Not Locking Up
It may seem obvious to secure your home when you leave but some people do not always follow the practice. If there is no sign of forced entry after a break-in, it is likely to void any claims made.
Upon commencement of your policy, you may have been asked what locks your doors and windows have, if these were not used, your insurer may not payout. If your doors have a double lock system, always use both. Even if you are just popping out quickly, thieves are opportunists and will take advantage of any small security breach.
5. Renovating Your Home
Nowadays, homeowners are more likely to renovate or remodel their homes rather than moving house. But you must notify your insurance provider of any works that are to be carried out.
Firstly, it is likely to add value to your home and therefore your policy will need to be altered to reflect this. Secondly, your home may seem at risk to your provider, with workmen having access and the potential that the building is not completely secure whilst works are still be completed.
Also, your neighbours may have acquired the right to light and if your new extension blocks any light to their property, they may be able to claim compensation from you, or in the worst case, have your new renovations demolished. Obtaining right to light insurance can protect you against these forms of claims.
6. Having an Empty Property
Your provider will understand that you need a holiday now and then and your home will be vacant. If you are taking a holiday for a few weeks, you probably don’t need to alert them of your absence.
However, if you are planning to leave your property empty for long periods and you don’t notify them, this could invalidate your insurance. Typically, 30 days or more must be declared but this can vary so it is best to check your policy. You may be required to take out unoccupied property insurance for long absences.
7. Holiday Selfies
With such huge advances in technology, we can share out photos instantly with friends and family across the globe. However, doing so in real-time could compromise your home’s security.
Posting photos on social media is an advertisement to burglars that your property is vacant, especially with the use of location tagging so they know exactly how long it will take for you to get home.
Your policy will state that you must take reasonable care to ensure the security of your home and these snaps can compromise that. One in twelve burglaries occurs when homeowners are on holiday and posted their location on social media.
You can still share your memories online, but it is best to wait until you have returned to your property before doing so.
8. Changing Your Security
Along with numerous other questions you provider will ask you when you take out your policy, they will also ask you what doors and windows your home has, along with the locks, your premium is based on these answers.
A great way to update your property and to add value is by having new windows and doors installed. Although this may not immediately seem like a change to your security measures even if they are replaced with something very similar, it is still a change.
Always let your provider know of any changes, it is unlikely to make a premium go up as you have upgraded to newer models, but it can help you avoid an unpaid claim later on.