Protecting your home insurance policy

Home insurance can not only provide cover for your property and possessions, but it can also give you peace of mind. To this end, it’s always worth ensuring you are familiar with your policy details, as there are a number of factors which could invalidate your home insurance.

Locks

Keeping your property as secure as possible is paramount to making sure your insurance policy remains valid. Take the following points into consideration:

  • You might want to consider changing the locks when you move into a new property - you never know how many duplicate sets of keys the previous owner may have given to people.
  • Windows should be kept shut in unoccupied rooms and, wherever possible, locked.
  • When filling in your home insurance application form, you may be asked to describe your property’s locks. It is important, as with any question in the application, to describe your locks correctly. For further information, see our guide to home security.

Unoccupancy

When leaving your home, there are several things you can do to make sure your insurance policy isn’t compromised in your absence.

  • Some claims can be declined if a house is left unoccupied for a certain period of time. If you are going away for an extended period of time, inform your insurer. They may be able to find specialist cover for an unoccupied building to protect your home while you’re away. However, bear in mind there might be certain perils that will excluded regardless of occupancy or lack thereof.
  • If you have a burglar alarm make sure it’s activated whenever you leave the house.
  • Do not leave spare keys hidden outside your house. If a burglar can gain access to your home without force, your insurer may not pay a claim.
  • Try to make sure any calendars can not be seen through windows or through your letterbox. Burglars could take note of when you’ll be out or away if the date is marked clearly.

Further information on the above points can be found in our guide to keeping your home secure while on holiday.

Taking care of your home

Keeping your home in good condition is also important in making sure your insurance policy stays valid. Try to bear the following points in mind:

  • Water damage due to insufficient grouting can affect a subsequent claim. Try to ensure sealant is kept in a watertight condition.
  • If you’re making any significant improvements to your home, you should inform your insurer that builders are on site. If you don’t make them aware of the work being carried out and your home suffers any accidental damage (e.g. to a pipe or load bearing wall), your insurer may refuse or reduce a payout.

Other occupants

Having other people occupy your home can also affect your premium. Lodgers, for example, can invalidate certain policies, particularly if the insurer is not informed that a room in your house is being rented out. Your insurance could also be affected if your home is being used as a base for your business or to store any business equipment. Conditions can vary depending on the nature of the business being carried out so always read your policy booklet closely.

Although not an extensive list, the information above should give an indication as to what might invalidate your home insurance policy. If you are still in doubt, contact your insurer directly.

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