Age UK Insurance are looking to help older residents increase their home safety with this useful article
While the Office of National Statistics have reported a rise in serious crime over the last year, an assessment of older peoples’ views on home security indicates resilience. A survey* of 2,000 over 65-year-olds living in the UK finds that while over a third (35%) know someone who has been burgled, only a very small number (less than 1%) do not feel safe in their home.
However, this does not necessarily mean that older people believe their neighbourhood to be as safe as it was years ago. Instead, responses indicate that many over 65s are adapting to new and current threats to their security and taking action to help them feel safe.
Investing in a burglar alarm is a popular step that over 65s are taking which demonstrates resilience to the rise in serious crime; at least 53% of over 65s have had a burglar alarm installed in their home. Our guide below also provides some other potential solutions for people wanting to increase safety in their neighbourhoods.
Neighbourhood Watch is a great way to keep the community connected and increase safety in your local area. Liaising with neighbours fortnightly or monthly can be a great way to raise concerns and work together to improve the safety of local homes.
Burglars may be attracted to certain properties because of their contents being on show in windows or garages. Draw your curtains or blinds at night-time so burglars are deterred from attempting to steal. Or, better yet, add visible locks to your windows and doors.
A dummy security system is a cheap and effective way to deter thieves from your property. They will see the camera and think ‘Is it really worth the risk?’
Movement sensing outdoor lighting will act as a deterrent to thieves; the exposure increases the risk of getting caught and often scares them into abandoning their burglary attempt.
It’s an easy mistake to make and we’ve all done it at some point, no matter our age. But 1 in 11 over 65s have said they have forgotten to lock either their front or back door at some point when leaving the house. Some of those questioned suggested that others might benefit from sticking or drawing a key symbol on your inner door handle; that way the reminder is there to help us not to forget to lock the door.
For those that might require assistance from others, keeping a spare key hidden outside is important. At least 8% of over 65s benefit from keeping a spare key hidden outside their home at all times. Many of these people will have purchased key safes to have outside their homes. Key safes are a secure and easy-to-use mechanism that allows the homeowner to have a spare key on hand whenever they need it. You simply fit the safe in a sensible location outside, punch in a unique code and rest assured that your key can only be accessed by those who know the code.
ONS data shows that last year the average cost of stolen items was £2,543. What’s more, the average cost of damage to property caused by a break in has nearly doubled in the past year, from £373 in 2016 to £622 in 2017.
Although these numbers may seem worrying, there are ways to prevent losing out in the event of a burglary, and the over 65s are one step ahead of the rest of us; 94% of older people know exactly what their home insurance covers. This is a lesson to us all, as correctly estimating the value of your possessions when taking out home insurance is a great way to ensure that if you are burgled, you can claim back on any items lost. If you need any advice on how to value your personal possessions then please read our guide on how to get jewellery and antiques valued properly.
Our research has demonstrated that Londoners are much more likely to know someone who has been burgled than in other regions. Worryingly, while the security risk seems higher, not all homes are as secure as they could be. 53% of Londoners reported not having a burglar alarm. However, this could be due to the high number of rental properties in London. If you are worried about your home security and you live in a rented property, contact your landlord and speak to them about installing a burglar alarm for you.
Those living in or near Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Leeds are most likely to have a burglar alarm that they use regularly.
Having your property broken into would be a traumatic experience for anyone; 82% of burglar victims have noted various emotional impacts that they have suffered. Of those that said they felt emotionally affected by being burgled, 32% experienced fear, and 29% felt a loss of confidence or a feeling of vulnerability. In fact, 30% of respondents reported difficulty sleeping, and more than 1 in 5 had anxiety or panic attacks after being burgled.
Being burgled is a serious and traumatic event, so keeping yourself safe and covered if the worst should happen is important. Amongst other things that can help to improve home safety, the right contents insurance can give older people the peace of mind that whatever happens, their property will be repaired, and belongings replaced or paid for without long delays. As experienced providers of home insurance for over 50s, our teams understand the nuances of the vulnerability felt when experiencing a burglary as an older person. We therefore always ensure each case is dealt with sensitively and thoroughly.
Remember, if you know someone that has been burgled recently or in the past, they could still be suffering with the after-effects. Visiting and reassuring people that you are there for them is the first step in helping loved ones feel safe and secure in their own homes once more.
Should you improve the security of your home then notify your household insurer as this may mean a discount on your premium. Some insurers offer discounts for alarms, certain types of lock and Neighbourhood watch membership.
*Research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,003 respondents aged 65 + in GB between 03.11.2017 – 07.11.17. The survey was conducted from a random sample of UK adults. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.
The latest Office for National Statistics burglary report can be accessed on their website.