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10 Actions You Might Not Realise Will Invalidate Your Home Insurance

| Insurance

We’ve put together a list of some of the seemingly harmless actions that could cost you if ever you need to make a claim.

We keep the majority of our most valuable possessions at home, making our home Insurance policy a lifeline should something go wrong. But, while many of us think we’re taking all the necessary precautions to protect our homes and insurance policies, you might not realise that you could invalidate your home insurance claim by something as simple as posting a selfie on holiday or doing a bit of home renovating.

Firstly, it is important to make sure you know what your insurance policy covers. Being savvy when it comes to your home insurance policy is essential when you are putting in a claim. Also, if you are hoping to have a particular aspect of your property insured, you’ll need to make sure this is covered upon arranging and agreeing to a home insurance policy, so any future claims aren’t denied.

1.    Getting away from it all

Leaving your home unoccupied at certain points throughout the year is understandable and expected by insurance companies, whether it be for weekend breaks in the UK or longer excursion abroad, you’re bound to go away from home for a prolonged period. However, if you are planning on leaving your home for more than 30 days and do not declare this to your insurance company then your policy could become invalid if the property suffers damages or a robbery.

However, Age UK understands that you may need to leave your property for longer than 30 days, so we allow up to 60 days for your property to be left unoccupied before your insurance becomes invalid. If you can’t avoid leaving your home for more than 60 days, then it may be beneficial to ask a loved one to housesit for you whilst you are away. Just bear in mind that the house needs to be considered ‘occupied’ by the house-sitter, so one night might not be enough to cut it.

2.    Forgetting to mention that new cat flap

When things around the house are changing the last thing we think of is to update our home insurance policies. However, this could potentially invalidate your insurance if you don’t make your insurer aware of any changes. For example, installing a cat or dog flap for your four-legged friend may deem your back door as less secure; if you fail to mention this change to your insurer this could then invalidate your insurance policy.

However, Age UK understand that your beloved four-legged friend needs to be able to let themselves in and out of your property, so installing a cat or dog flap and not notifying us of this change would not invalidate your insurance policy.

3.    Thinking about getting a lodger?

Most home insurance companies will not offer home insurance if you are renting out a part of your property. Some will cover a partially rented property, but you will need to let your insurer know before you begin renting a room to a tenant. This is because you are entrusting your property to someone you do not know and therefore you are putting your possessions at risk. Make sure you let your insurance company know about this change otherwise it could invalidate your insurance policy.

4.    Sprucing the place up

Renovating your home is an exciting, and somewhat stressful, time in any home owner’s life. The constant stream of builders coming in and out of your property teamed with the added structural risks of knocking a wall or two down is a nightmare for insurance companies. If you do decide to take the plunge and renovate your property, then let your insurance company know – if you don’t this could also invalidate your home insurance policy.

All home owners should also be aware that if you are having building works carried out this also affects the terms of your insurance policy. Builders have easy access to your home and valuables when you may be out of the house or otherwise preoccupied; therefore, home insurers restrict the cover of theft of your money or valuables to theft from a locked drawer or cupboard where forcible entry has been used. Make sure all your valuables that might usually be left out in your home are locked away whilst builders have access to your property.

5.    Exaggerating your home contents

Many of us don’t know the exact contents of our home off-hand and may be tempted to resort to guesswork when applying for a home insurance policy. But inflating the value of your home contents to save time or even by accident is a mistake that could cost you in the long-run. Take the time to value your possessions correctly and don’t be tempted to cut corners on the assumption that it probably wouldn’t make a difference anyway. It could come back to bite you when making a claim in the future.

6.    Locking the windows and doors

Taking your own precautions to keep your home safe from break-ins is not only important for your home and family, but also for your home insurance policy. Make sure any doors, windows and locks are secure every time you leave the house, and that any alarm or lock systems you have installed are activated and working properly when you aren’t at home. If a burglar can gain unforced entry to your property, your policy could be invalidated.

7.    Sharing your holiday snaps online

The ‘selfie’ craze has spread across all generations, and the perfect time to take a snapshot of yourself to post online is while you’re on holiday! However, taking several snaps of yourself whilst away from home could be deemed as advertising to potential burglars that your home is unoccupied, making it an easy target.

This might be seen as slightly harsh and some insurers are more understanding than others, and Age UK aren’t likely to penalise you for posting a snap of your cocktail on the beach. But more and more criminals are using online means to target victims, and you should be aware of the risks to your home as well as your policy.

8.    Taking care of damages

Home insurance policies cover different types of damages to properties. One damage that can leave you with an invalidated insurance policy is vermin infestation. If your home is being occupied by pests such as badgers, foxes, squirrels, rodents or more, and you fail to get the problem rectified, any damages caused may not be covered by your insurer.

9.    Not knowing how far your home is from water access

If you live by a lake or canal then your risk of flooding may be higher than city-dwellers, however, every homeowner should make it their business to know how at risk their property is of flooding. After the event of a flood, it can be hard to think to the future, the only thing that you can do is to begin the clean-up effort and it might be tempting to get rid of all damaged goods as soon as possible.

But, be aware that insurance companies will want to see evidence of your damaged goods to calculate the value of your claim, Age UK insurance will require you to wait for permission to throw away any damaged goods, ahead of them having the opportunity to view them. You will risk losing out on money to replace the contents of your home as a picture doesn’t always do the trick!

10.     Hesitating to call 999

If you have unfortunately suffered a break-in and failed to phone 999 within 24 hours, then you might find that your claim is declined by your insurer. Ring the police to report the incident and get a crime number as soon as you are made aware of the burglary. Hesitation to do so might be considered as suspicious by your home insurer.

Age UK requests that the police are informed a soon as is reasonable and possible. Get a quote on a Home Insurance policy with Age UK today to find out if you could benefit from Age UK's 5-Star services.

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