One of the most important factors of home security is ensuring that you are compliant with the terms and conditions of your insurance policy. Having home and contents insurance is great way to protect your valuables should the worst happen, however what many don’t know is that you can actually invalidate your insurance by making a few small mistakes, making you potentially vulnerable.
What can invalidate insurance policies?
There are a few ways in which you can invalidate your home insurance; here are the top 10 most common situations which could potentially leave you without your insurance cover:
- Leaving your home unoccupied for too long
A condition in most insurance policies is that your cover may be invalidated should the house in question be left unoccupied for 30 consecutive days (average), this is also known as the Vacancy Exclusion Clause.
Empty houses are more at risk, especially during bad weather, as would be burglars may have a lower chance of getting caught. This can increase your chances of becoming a target.
- Not making required repairs
If your house is not in good condition and you have not made necessary repairs that could effectively have knock on effects in the stability and security can invalidate your insurance.
As part of the terms and conditions of your insurance policy, you must keep your home and property maintained to a suitable standard, if not it could be investigated to determine if the condition of your home played a part in the situation that has created an issue.
- Not informing your insurance provider of any renovations
If you are planning any home renovations that will potentially add value to your home, you need to inform your insurance provider before the renovations start as this may change the terms of your insurance.
The price of your policy will be determined on a number of factors, so you’ll need to talk to your insurance in case it will change any factors in your insurance. For example, if you were adding an extension that would add value to your home but should something happen to your home the extension you have just built would not be insured.
Similarly if you carry out DIY work on your home and it goes wrong, you may not be able to claim. More insurance policies do not cover accidental damage, so be aware of your terms and conditions before starting anything.
- Not having the proper locks
Most insurance providers require a minimum requirement for locks to be a least British Standard, so ensure that if it is a requirement of your policy that they are up to standard!
- Not locking the doors and windows when you go out
This is one of the most common causes of policy invalidation. Even if you are just popping down to the shop, you need to lock all windows and doors. This is because most insurance providers won’t pay out if no forced entry is used to illegally gain access to your home.
- Not telling your insurance that you are renting out a room
You need to inform your insurance provider will changes that happen since taking out the policy, this includes renting out a room. As renting out a room is seen as a risk, you can invalidate your insurance if you do inform them and wish to make a claim.
- Hesitating to call 999
If the worst should happen you need to contact the police within 24 hours of finding the incident. The sooner the better. If you do not, it can be treated as suspicious and therefore have consequences onto your claim and policy.
- Not informing your provider about a minor incident
Should there be an incident but no damage or very little damage was made, you will need to tell your insurance. Even if you are not looking to claim you will need to tell them about it should it be relevant in the future.
- Using your home for business
Many home insurance policies do not cover business within the home, if you are running a business within your home ensure that your policy includes it or you might find a claim denied should you need to make one.
- Not using your burglar alarm
A burglar alarm is one of the best deterrents for avoiding intrusion and will often lower your insurance premiums. However, you need to be doing all possible to protect your home so not setting your burglar alarm when you have one can have knock on effects should the worst happen.
How to Avoid Invalidating Your Insurance Policies
Read the small print
Always read the terms and conditions of your insurance policy and what it covers or doesn’t cover. If you are ever unsure, always ask.
Check all doors and windows
Get into the habit of checking all your doors and windows before you leave, and also noting down if there is any visible damage on them.
Avoid leaving spare keys around
Under doormats, plant pots and rocks are the first place a burglar will look. Consider investing in a high quality key safe or leaving a key with a trusted neighbour or family member.
Activate burglar alarms
If you have it, use it. They can be your best defence against ill-wishers and will always add more security to your home.
Keep an inventory of your items
Keeping a detailed list of your valuables, with serial codes, pictures and descriptions to ensure that should you need to make a claim you can easily show what is missing and the value.
Read What Might Invalidate Your Home Insurance Policies