There's been an accident. The cat has knocked over an expensive vase, or your kids have booted the football through the window. 'Well, that's why we have insurance,' you say. But what if you make a claim and find that somehow you've invalidated your policy?
But it's a situation homeowners can easily prevent. Our tips show how you can avoid leaving yourself open to a rejected claim.
What will invalidate my home insurance?
Leaving your home unoccupied
Most policies limit the number of consecutive days your home can be left unoccupied. The usual limit is 30 days, and you'll need to let your insurer know whether the property will be unoccupied for longer.
Some insurers may add an endorsement to your policy to limit the level of cover after 30 days. Others may ask you to take certain precautions, for example leaving the heating on during colder months.
It's also worth checking whether the statements on your policy are still correct. For example, if you told your insurer your house has an accredited security alarm, make sure it has been inspected recently and is switched on when you're not at home.
If you are going away for some time, getting unoccupied property insurance is worthwhile for peace of mind.
If you're absent during the winter and fail to keep the heating on or take measures to prevent your pipes from freezing, your insurer might invalidate any claims for repairs. Frozen plumbing can lead to leaks and flooding in your home, so it's really not worth the risk.
Quite simply, damage caused by rats or mice may not be covered by your insurance. So if you notice any signs of vermin, it's important to act fast. Put down traps or call in a pest control contractor before any damage is done to your furniture or fittings.
Exaggerating your costs
Upping the value of items you're claiming for on your insurance is fraud, and risks invalidating your entire claim. If you say that an old laptop was worth thousands, you could end up footing an even larger bill.
But you'll need to add details of personal belongings, valuables or high risk items over a certain value to ensure they are included on your contents policy. These include:
- Computers, laptops and tablets
- Art work
Our contents calculator will help you avoid underestimating the value of your belongings.
Your insurer will ask or check whether you have minimum security door and window locks, to make sure that you're adequately protected against burglary. If you don't fix broken locks, or even install some, your insurer will probably not cover you for any stolen property.
Just like poor quality locks, your social media activity could also leave you at risk. Displaying to the world that you're away on holiday for 2 weeks or longer is opening yourself up to the possibility of a burglary. An Instagram here and there won't invalidate your policy, but you'll need to act reasonably and not overshare.
You should also think twice about showing details of your home, both inside and out. While you love your expensive new TV, somebody who can see your social media posts might love it a little bit more.
Remember to report a crime
Finally, in the event of a theft or burglary, you must report it to the police within 24 hours to get a crime reference number. You'll need this when you make a claim.
Your home is important to you, and that's why we're proud to offer Defaqto rated cover. But we can't protect everything. Make sure you follow our advice to prevent losing out on a claim.