Home insurance is one of the most important things we can invest in. It protects us from financial strain should disaster strike our properties and brings us peace of mind that we are covered should the worst happen.
After taking out your policy, have you actually taken the time to scrutinise the small print? Most consumers simply read the headlines and aren’t aware of the exclusions hidden away in the terms and conditions.
Lawsure wants to raise awareness of the commonly unknown stipulations set out in the policy that could leave you out-of-pocket should you need to make a claim.
1. Renovations & Building Work
2-in-5 of us are not choosing to renovate our homes instead of moving to accommodate growing families and the need for more space. But you should always let your insurer know before any work is carried out.
If you are making small changes, such as new carpets or kitchen cabinets, you won’t have to declare this, but any structural alterations should be voiced.
Firstly, your home security may be compromised. Unknown workmen will have access to your property and your belongings and may even have keys to carry out work when you are not in. The structure will also be compromised, as work is being carried out, unfinished walls and windows and doors awaiting installation can mean thieves may see your home as a target. This can be deemed a risk by many providers.
Secondly, it is most likely the value of your home will increase, your premium is based on this and will need to be altered to reflect the new price.
You will also need to consider right to light insurance if your neighbours have gained the right to light and you have disrupted this with a new extension, you could be liable to pay compensation or in the worst-case, knock your new addition down. Right to light insurance will protect you, you can find out more at https://www.lawsureinsurance.co.uk/our-products/title-protection/rights-light/
2. Not Locking Up
It may seem like an obvious thing to do, but when you leave your property, you must always lock all windows and doors. Failing to do so could mean unpaid claims in the event of a burglary.
Studies have shown 15% of burglars gain access through unlocked windows and can be in and out of your home within minutes. If someone enters your property without force your claim is unlikely to be paid.
Even if you are just popping to a neighbour’s or even spending the afternoon in the garden, make sure you properly lock up as the risk is not worth taking.
3. Exaggerating Your Contents Value
Very few of us know the exact value of our items and many of us are taking to guesswork when taking out our policies. The average UK home’s contents worth is £35,000, but this doesn’t mean it applies to you.
If you are found to have exaggerated your contents, whether by accident or deliberately, you may be invalidating your insurance. When taking out your policy, really take the time to evaluate your possessions, remembering that high-value items such as technology and jewellery may need to be declared separately.
Do not just focus on items that could be enticing to burglars, should the worst happen, such as a fire or flood, think about how much you would need to replace all the items in your home, including clothes, appliances and even toys.
4. Doggy Doors
We all love our pets, they are part of the family and we want to ensure they are given the best life possible. This can include installing a dog flap so our pooches can enjoy our gardens when we are out.
But if you don’t let your insurer know, they may void a claim. Not only does a dog flap compromise the structure of your door, but nimble burglars may also be able to gain access through it.
It is best to declare a dog flap before installing one, it is unlikely your insurer will not provide cover and it means they are fully aware should you need to make a claim.
5. Getting a Flatmate
Renting out our space room is a great way to make a bit of extra cash and 3% of us are choosing to do just this.
Not all insurers will cover a partially rented property. Even if your most trusted friend is moving in, providers will see this as a strange adult with access to your home and keys and can be deemed a risk.
Before someone moves into your home, make your insurer is aware so they can alter your policy if needed.
6. New Doors and Windows
When taking out your home insurance policy, you will have been asked an abundance of questions relating to your home security, including what doors and windows you have.
Replacing these is a great way to give your home a facelift but you should let your insurer know of these plans. Although your security is likely to increase with these new additions, your policy still needs to reflect the changes.
You will also need to ensure you obtain FENSA certificates after the installation as your provider may ask for these.
7. Holiday Selfies
We love showing off our memories on social media, but doing so in real-time could invalidate a claim. Your policy will state that you must take ‘reasonable care’ to ensure the security of your home and posting holiday photos whilst away can be deemed as not doing so.
Location tagging your photos is an open advert to the world wide web that your property is vacant and burglars will take advantage of this. There has been a proven link between social media holiday snaps and home theft.
You can still share your holiday photos, it is just best to wait until you have returned home before doing so.
8. Vacant Properties
We all need a holiday or two throughout the year and your insurer understands this. Leaving your home vacant for a few weeks at a time does not need to be declared, however, if you are planning to leave your home empty for longer you may need to declare this.
Typically, the period is 30+ days, but this can vary. You may be required to take out unoccupied property insurance, although this will be an extra cost, it will be small compared to the financial burden of finding cash yourself should a claim be unpaid.