Home insurance prices have been driven up by government tax rises, despite the mild winter which kept claim costs low. The cost for home insurance rose by 2 per cent in the year to April, reaching an average of £121 for the year, and has remained unchanged in the past three months. However, Consumer Intelligence has warned that Insurance Premium Tax increases will keep costs rising. Thankfully, there are little things homeowners can do to reduce the cost of their home insurance.

Fit secure and approved locks

The type of lock you have on your external doors and windows can change the cost of your home insurance. Having the wrong type of lock fitted to your door can even make a claim invalid, so it’s important to know what types of door lock you can choose from. Take the time to research the different types of locks, and make sure your chosen lock complies with the industry standard.

Locks that are British Standard approved will be secure from both sides, meaning that a key will open it whether you’re inside or outside. These locks have been through rigorous testing, and will feature the BS 3261 kitemark, which, according to Banham, is recognised and accepted by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) for all external/entrance doors to your home. Generally, the minimum requirement for a front door is a five lever mortice deadlock.

Install a burglar alarm

Some insurers may offer a discount if you have a burglar alarm installed, however it’s worth shopping around for quotes from different brokers. Some brokers may even specify that you must have a home alarm system as part of their policy, and may have conditions when the alarm system is switched on, for example at night in rooms where no one is sleeping, where other policies will simply require that the system is installed.

Once you have an alarm system installed in your home, it’s important to regularly check that it’s working properly. If a fault in the system has been found when a claim has been put in, this could stop the insurers from paying out.

Fit smoke alarms around the house

If an insurer knows you have a working smoke alarm installed in your house, they could lower the premium as your home will be less likely to experience fire damage. The London Fire Brigade recommends fitting a smoke detector in all the rooms you frequently use, as well as in the hallways. They also suggest fitting a heat detector in the kitchen, which is designed to go off once a certain temperature is reached.

You should install smoke alarms that come with a 10-year long lasting sealed battery. Again, it’s important to regularly make sure your alarms are in full working condition.

Invest in a safe for valuable items

Having a safe in your house may seem extreme, but this could reduce the cost of your premium. A safe could be used to store your high-valuable items when you’re not wearing them, such as diamond rings and expensive watches, and protect them against fire, theft, and even water damage. If you’re looking to install a safe then it could be worth speaking to your insurer about their recommendations on the types of safe there are for your needs. They may also recommend synchronising it with existing or additional home security systems — for example having it linked to your alarm.

Join the Neighbourhood Watch

The Neighbourhood Watch scheme is made up of the police, charity volunteers, and members of the public who work together to make their community a safer place. It was set up in 2006, and there are now around 170,000 schemes active around the UK. Members work together to increase vigilance and build a network of crime reporters.

If you’re part of the Neighbourhood Watch scheme in your area, insurers will see you as less likely to be targeted by burglars, as you have a community of people who live close-by keeping an eye on you and your property.

Be smart with any spare keys

Some people may hand out spare keys for their home to neighbours and relatives, however you should be able to account for these if your home is broken into and there is no sign of forced entry. In 2014, it was reported that over 6,000 burglaries occurred by an intruder who had a key, as opposed to breaking and entering. Shockingly, almost a third of Britons admit to leaving a spare key hidden on their property, with the most common hiding places being under plant pots, gnomes, bins, and doormats.

If there is no sign of forced entry to your property, you could find that your claim has been rejected by your insurer.