One of the most crucial purchases we make in our lifetime will be that of a property and it is essential we protect this investment to ensure we are covered from risks.
Home insurance gives us peace of mind from any nasty surprises and many believe they are covered from most eventualities.
After scouring for the best cover and finding the most affordable price, we sign the dotted line and remain safe in the knowledge we are financially covered for any dangers to our property and possessions.
But, have you ever stopped to analyse all the small print? Many are unaware of the terms and conditions of making a claim. Lawsure have created a list of things that could invalidate your home insurance, to create awareness and ensure the public do not end up being stung by their provider when they make a claim.
1.Updating Your Property
It is increasingly popular to renovate your current property, rather than move to suit your needs. 40% of Brits choose to modify their property rather than put it in the market.
However, if you do not notify your insurance provider that works are being carried out, this could cause issues.
Insurance companies need to be aware of anything that could compromise security, such as windows or doors. If you are having large structural work completed that could add substantial value to the property, they will also need to know so your policy can be adjusted to cover the correct amount.
You also need to take into consideration your neighbours and if they have acquired “right to light” in their property. This is when their property has received uninterrupted, natural light for at least 20 years.
If this applies and you block their sunlight with your renovations, they may be able to obtain an injunction from the court to prevent construction, alter or even demolish your new development. To prevent financial loss, procure right to light insurance before the commencement of any works.
2. Having an Empty Property
We all need a holiday and change of scenery throughout the year and insurers understand this.
But longer absences of more than 30 days should always be reported to your insurer. Check your terms and conditions as this length can vary.
The longer a property is empty, the more risks are involved. This is not just down to potential burglaries, for example, if a pipe bursts and this is not discovered for a few weeks then the damage and financial implications will be far more severe than if it was found within a few hours.
If your provider was not alerted of your absence and you suffer any form of loss or damage, you may not be able to make a claim.
Taking out unoccupied property insurance will keep you fully covered.
3. Selfie Obsession
We live in a world where everything is easily documented and shared. Social media is a great way to keep others up-to-date with your life and we all secretly love to gloat when we’re traveling.
But your recent snap on a beach could lead to your claim being declined.
Statistics suggest a link between burglaries and holiday photos being shared on social platforms. One in twelve burglaries occurs after holiday photos have been made public.
Although your terms and conditions may not specifically ban this type of activity, it commonly stipulates ‘reasonable care’ should be taken when going on holiday.
Police forces, the government, and the Financial Ombudsman have all raised warnings regarding holiday photos online. We suggest you share your holiday snaps when you have returned home.
4. Security Changes
Insurers ask an abundance of questions about the structure of your property before you take the plunge and your premium will be based on these answers.
Any changes to this will need to be noted with your provider so they can adjust your policy accordingly.
For example, you may have had the locks changed after losing your house keys, or your windows may have been replaced. Your insurance provider will want to know about these.
Usually, these changes will increase your security so you may even save money by alerting your provider.
5. Your New Room Mate
Many homeowners will rent out a spare room to provide extra income. But not all policies will cover a property that is also partly rented.
Rented rooms are seen as a risk. Your new lodger could be a well-known friend but your provider will still see them as a stranger residing in the property who could cause damage or theft.
6. Welcoming a Furry Friend
We are a nation of dog lovers and it is becoming increasingly popular for households to have a canine companion.
If you install a dog flap, check your policy first. Many insurance providers see these as a risk. Not only do they compromise the structure of your door but they can be large enough for a person to fit through.
You may be required to pay a premium if you do install a dog flap, but it is worth the extra to ensure your claims are not declined.
7. Exaggerating Value
It is quite complex trying to work out exactly how much our possessions are worth and many policyholders will make a wild guess.
If you over-inflate the value of your contents, whether it be deliberate or accidental, then you could face problems in the long run.
The average value of household possessions in the UK is £35,000 but don’t assume you fall into the average bracket. Take time to calculate your contents worth and don’t just pluck a number from thin air.
8. Not Locking Up
It may seem like an obvious thing to do when we leave the house but did you know if you forget to lock your doors or windows and theft occurs, you are unlikely to be covered.
This comes down to you not ensuring security at your property and unfortunately it is then deemed that you are at fault.
Even if you are just popping around the corner, always make sure windows and doors are locked and any alarm systems are set.