This might seem like an odd section to include in a home security paper, given that it isn’t directly about home security, but your security choices could be invalidating your insurance. While taking out insurance on your home isn’t essential (though it is highly advisable), if you do have it then you need to read the fine print carefully. We don’t say this lightly. We have seen far too many people who thought they had a valid insurance claim for a house burglary under their insurance, but instead they were refused. Why? Because of the fine print.
To give you a bit more of an idea – most people tend to take out home and contents insurance, so that you are covered for accidents and damage to your home and possessions, as well as burglaries. Most insurance companies will offer you replacements for your valuables and re-secure your home – IF you have complied with their terms. Their terms are hidden in the fine print, and can catch you out in some pretty nasty ways if you’re not careful. We’ve provided some of the most common examples found in many mainstream insurance providers documents.
Leaving Windows Open
If you leave your windows open, or fail to lock windows that are fitted with locks, your insurance may be rejected. It’s also included in many documents that the keys to lockable windows must not be left in the windows, or this nullifies the insurance as well. As this is quite a common habit, we advise you keep the keys to your windows in a jar or pot close by, and keep them out the windows.
If it can be proven that a burglar didn’t use force to gain entry to your home, it is likely your insurance provider won’t pay out your entire claim. Make sure you aren’t hiding a spare key outside your home, as your insurance may be void if a burglar finds them and uses them to gain access to your home. You should also make sure that any dog or cat flaps you may have are not big enough to permit a person through, as this may also void any claims.
Incorrect Description Of Your Locks On The Policy
When you first take out your home insurance policy, you usually have to tell the insurance company what locks you have fitted where. It’s essential you get this right, as they could reduce or refuse a payout if the locks in your home aren’t the same as the documents. You should also inform them whenever you have the locks changed or upgraded, so the documents are up to date and valid.
Failure To Use A Burglar Alarm
You will also have to state on your documents whether your home is equipped with a burglar alarm. If you have said yes to this, then you must make sure you use it. A burglar alarm is there to protect your home, and should be activated any time you leave the house. Insurance companies will often refuse to pay your claims if you do not use your alarm, as they can use the digital logs to prove its usage.
Reporting Thefts To The Police
This seems like an obvious one, but is still surprisingly common for people not to report thefts to the police. For a claim to be valid, you must report the theft to the police. They will give you a crime number, which you must include on your claim application to avoid having it rejected entirely. So even if it’s only 1 family heirloom that’s been taken, you should still report it to the police and get a crime number as soon as possible.
Failure To Secure Valuables In Your Garden
Not securing any valuables you keep in the garden, such as a lawnmower or a barbeque for example, may result in a theft, and no insurance payout for you. Check your policy to see which valuables are covered, and make sure you keep all valuables in a shed or garage that is properly locked and secured.
Providing Access To Tools Used To Break Into Your Home
Likewise, ensuring your tools (wrenches, hammers, ladders etc) are all secured is very important. If a burglar has found your ladder and hammer, and used them to climb to an upstairs window and break in, your insurance may be nullified, because you have provided them with the tools. So, keep them in a locked shed or garage as well.
Home Must Not Be Unoccupied For More Than 30 Days
Finally, any claim that is made after a home has been left unoccupied for more than a month might be considered void as well. So, if you are planning to go away for a long time, you should arrange to have a friend or relative stay in your home for at least 1 night every 30 days to keep the insurance valid. It’s important to remember to lock all doors and windows, remove the keys and set the burglar alarm as well!
For a lot of people this is quite the eye opener, and keeping these important points hidden in the fine print gives insurance companies some big loopholes to exploit when it comes to paying your claim. So be smart about your security, and make sure you have read and comply with all of these ‘fine print items’. This might mean getting some new locks fitted, having them checked or upgraded, but should the worst happen, it’s worth it.