How to avoid unwittingly invalidating your home insurance

Builder with cement machineIt’s often said that knowledge is power and when it comes to home insurance it really does pay to know exactly where you stand. Take time to read the small print and you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that you and your property are completely covered. Take special note of the points below that are often overlooked by homeowners:

Getting the builders in: If you are planning on renovating, extending or converting your property; your insurance risk will go through the roof. Not only are the chances of a ‘buildings’ claim for structural damage much greater, but with tradesmen traipsing through your house (and expensive tools and materials lying about) the chances of a ‘contents’ claim for theft are also much greater. Specialist building works insurance provides financial peace of mind for buildings, contents and legal concerns.

Bragging on social media: Why bother going to all the bother of knocking on someone’s front door to see if they are home when you can simply check their social media feeds? By checking-in abroad and posting holiday pictures you’re effectively advertising the fact that you’re away and inviting burglars into an empty house. Don’t think that criminals aren’t following your feeds, because they are, and insurers are well within their rights to check public social media profiles when settling a claim.

Staying away for long periods Empty properties represent a greater risk to insurers and most standard home insurance policies won’t provide cover for properties that are unoccupied for longer than 30 days. Not only do they provide easy targets for thieves, but if something goes wrong and isn’t fixed; repair bills can quickly add-up. If you are planning to be away for more than a month check the small print as you’re likely to need specialist unoccupied property cover.

Being lax about security Everyone knows that you can earn serious insurance discounts by making your home more secure, but if you take additional security steps; it’s important that you follow them. If you benefit financially by fitting a burglar alarm or approved window locks; you must use them or you could risk invalidating cover. Similarly, if you’re burgled and there’s no sign of forced entry your insurer will check whether everything was locked. Remember that you owe a ‘duty of care’ and if you are careless you could end-up picking-up the bill.

Not taking safety seriously Security is one thing and safety another, but the same rules apply. Home insurers will often reward safety conscious householders with discounts for additional security features (such as smoke detectors and fire alarms) but it’s essential that they are in good working order and tested regularly.

Hoping things will fix themselves: Most home insurance policies require that properties are ‘well maintained’ and kept in ‘good condition’. While insurers don’t spell out every scenario it only takes a little common sense to work out what could invalidate your policy. Ignore missing roof tiles or fail to fix a leaking pipe and you could be asking for trouble.

Undervaluing your contents While underinsuring your household contents won’t invalidate your policy; it could leave you seriously out of pocket. A recent report by a leading insurer revealed that the average home is underinsured by over £20,000 adding-up to over £100billion across the country. Part of the problem is because homeowners often aren’t sure what their contents cover actually covers (carpets and curtains are commonly overlooked) and don’t update their policy after buying high-ticket items such as jewellery or electronic equipment. Rather than ‘guesstimating’ the overall value; work slowly from room-to-room carefully adding-up your contents.



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