We Brits can be pretty inventive when it comes to protecting our valuables, even going so far as hiding them in a hollowed-out book.
But given the average value of precious possessions tops £4,000 – and for 1 in 10 over £10,000 – a surprising third don't do anything special to protect them. That's according to new research from AA Insurance, which has launched its comprehensive Home Insurance Plus cover.
It's important to keep valuables safe. Insurers may take a dim view of claims where an expensive item has been left out in the open for an opportunistic thief to snatch, especially if windows or doors have been left open or unlocked too.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance
New research by Populus for AA Home Insurance reveals that although three-quarters of homeowners have valuables, only 14% keep them somewhere secure such as a safe or safety deposit box.*
With each person's collection of valuables averaging £4,164, and one in ten having valuables in excess of £10,000, the AA is encouraging people to keep their most expensive possessions somewhere safe – and keep them insured.
AA launches comprehensive Home Insurance Plus
These findings come at a time when the AA has launched Home Insurance Plus, a comprehensive home insurance policy with generous cover limits, which includes what many insurers regard as 'add-ons'.
The research shows that just 12% keep their valuables in a safe while 2% use a safety deposit box. Instead, many choose to use a jewellery box or bedside cabinet, although more than a third (36%) say they don't even attempt to hide their most precious possessions.
A creative 2% have crafted a hiding place – such as a hollowed out book– in which to keep their most costly valuables. Three very careful respondents hide theirs under the floorboards.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says: "I applaud the inventiveness of a few people who clearly take care to protect their most valuable possessions. But for many their valuables may be worth more than they realise, as popular programmes such as 'Antiques Roadshow' often demonstrate.
"It's important to keep them safe. Insurers may take a dim view of claims where an expensive item has been left out in the open for an opportunistic thief to snatch, especially if windows or doors have been left open or unlocked too.
"If thieves do get into your home and see that you have a safe they may be put off altogether. At the very least it would slow them down."
Mr Douglas also recommends that people take other steps to ensure the security of their valuables: "UV pens are a very useful and cheap way to mark larger valuables – police will often check stolen possessions for this type of mark."
He adds that thieves are indiscriminate and may take things that have little monetary worth but high emotional value – costume jewellery or other possessions that are family heirlooms for instance. Such items also should be kept safely, along with important documents such as passports, share certificates or property deeds.
Accidental damage – most common claim
But other things can happen to your belongings besides theft. The Populus research also show that accidental damage is the most common home insurance claim – almost one in five (18%) have made such a claim.
Mr Douglas continues: "Keeping valuables secure means they will be out of harm's way too – where they can't be accidentally knocked over, trodden on, or even damaged by fire for instance."
Mr Douglas also advises people to check whether their home insurance policies offer adequate protection for valuables: "Policies usually have a set limit on the value of a single item that they'll cover as part of the policy, so it's best to check it's sufficient. Insurers will want to know about single items that have a high value so they can be specified on the policy. Owners should also keep receipts or valuations, noting any hallmarks or other identifying marks and take photographs too."
The AA's new Defaqto five-star Home Insurance Plus offers cover for up to £30,000 of valuables (individual items over £5,000 should be declared), as well as up to £3,000 of cover for student possessions away from home.** The policy covers contents and buildings with no upper limit.
It also includes accidental damage, cover for valuables anywhere in the world, plus home emergency response – all in one convenient package, with no hidden extras or add-ons.
Where you keep your valuables*
|A safe at home||12|
|Safety deposit box||2|
|Something I've made myself (eg a hollowed-out book)||2|
|Under the bed||1|
|Nowhere in particular – I don't hide them||36|
* Populus received 2,067 responses from AA home customers to its online poll 15–23 January 2014. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
** Defaqto is an independent, financial research company that specialises in rating, comparing and analysing financial products.
28 May 2014