One of the most important elements of our lives in our home and protecting it comes at a high priority for many of us.
Home insurance is a fantastic way to protect us and give peace of mind against any financial strain should disaster strike.
But, have you ever taken the time to read all the fine print in your policy? There could be certain stipulations that could invalidate your insurance and leave you out-of-pocket when it comes to making a claim.
The below list sets out 8 of the most common mistakes made by policyholders that could invalidate your home insurance.
1.Renovations & Building Work
With the ever-growing need for space, more and more of us are choosing to renovate our homes to accommodate growing families.
Before making any major changes to your property, you should consider neighbouring properties and if they have obtained the right to light. When making structural changes, you should look into getting right to light insurance to protect you, should your neighbour try to make a claim. Click here for more information about right to light insurance.
You should always alert your provider should any building work be carried out. If you are simply replacing carpets or sprucing up kitchen cabinets, they will not be notified. Any structural changes should be reported.
Firstly, the value of your property is likely to have changed and your insurance policy will need to reflect this, you may be required to pay more for your premium, but it will be worth it to be fully covered.
Secondly, unknown workmen having access to your property be perceived as a security risk by your insurer and if you do not report this, they made refuse a claim, even if it is not related to the work.
2. Having an Empty Property
All insurance providers understand we all need a holiday or two throughout the year and will leave our property vacant for a few weeks at a time.
However, if you plan to leave your home empty for longer periods of time, you will need to notify your insurer. Typically, policies state any length that is 30 days or more needs to be declared, this can vary between policies, so it is best to double-check the fine print of your own.
Insurers will still cover against long absences, but you may be required to take out Unoccupied Property Insurance to cover you against any kind of loss.
3. Holiday Selfies
We all love showing off our holiday snaps to friends and family on social media. However, The ONS reported 422,870 burglaries across the UK in the year ending June 2019 and statistics show 1 in 12 of these occurred when the homeowner was on holiday.
Sharing photos and posts online in real-time, especially with location tagging, is an open advert to potential thieves that your property is empty and exactly how far away you are.
Insurance policies will state you must ‘take reasonable care’ in protecting your home and posting these photos could be deemed a risk on your part.
You can still post your holiday photos; we just advise you to wait until you have returned home.
4. New Windows and Doors
When you take out your policy, you will be asked numerous questions about the security measures, including windows, doors and locks and your premium will be based on these answers.
Changes to these measures should be declared to your provider before they are carried out so your policy can be updated. You may even find this works in your favour as your security will most likely be heightened and your premium may go down.
5. Getting a New Tenant
Many of us are making use of empty bedrooms by renting them out to generate some extra income, around 3% of UK households are now doing this.
Before you decide to welcome a new lodger, check the small print of your policy and call your provider to notify them before someone has moved in.
This is because insurers see this as a risk, even if you are welcoming a trusted friend into your home, your provider will only see this as an adult stranger with access to keys to your property and your belongings.
Your policy could be invalidated if you do not notify your insurance provider beforehand.
6. Getting a Doggy Door
We are a nation of pet lovers and it is estimated that 26% of the population has a dog. We all want to provide the best life for our furry friends and installing a dog flap is a great way for our pooches to enjoy our gardens when we are out.
However, in doing so, you could invalidate your insurance. This is due to the installation of a dog door risking our security as it can compromise the integrity of the door and nimble burglars may be able to squeeze through and gain access to the property.
Before installation, alert your provider that you are intending to do so your policy can be updated and cover you should the worst occur.
7. Exaggerating Your Wealth
When you take out your policy, you will be asked for the value of your contents, this is often guessed at a ballpark figure. The average UK home’s contents are worth £35,000, but this doesn’t mean your home is the same.
If you need to make a claim and your provider discovers you have inflated the value of your contents, even by accident, they may refuse a claim.
Really take the time to evaluate your items and work out how much it would cost should disaster strike, such as a fire or flood. Consider all items, not just high value, such as clothes, toys, toiletries and even kitchenware.
8. Not Locking Windows and Doors
Although you may not feel the need to always lock your property when popping out, if you fail to do so and a burglary occurs, your insurance will be invalidated. For most insurers, just having closed windows and doors is not enough to ensure your security.
Likewise, if you have a double lock and fail to use this, they may refuse a claim.
15% of burglars obtain access through unlocked windows, don’t put yourself at this risk. Remember, burglars are opportunists so even if you are just nipping around the corner for a pint of milk or dashing out the car, lock all doors and windows.