Are your presents safe this Christmas?

Published:
09 December 2010
Topic:
News,Insurance,Shopping,Christmas,Home

People will put an average of £195 worth of presents under the tree this year, so it pays to check your household insurance policy will cover costs if they get stolen or damaged.

Is your house full to bursting with presents? Is every nook and cranny filled with new games consoles, popular toys and costly clothes? If so, then you will be a prime target for burglars for whom brand new presents, still in their boxes, are very tempting.

The good news is that most people with home insurance will benefit from extra cover over the festive period.

According to the Financial Services Authority's Defaqto website, 90% of insurance providers will automatically increase the cover they offer over Christmas.

Some increase the protection by a fixed amount, while others give households between 5% and 25% more cover. The Post Office and Saga, for example both increase the cover on their policies by 10% during December so customers are fully protected over the festive period.

The underinsurance risk

Unfortunately, the amount of extra Christmas cover provided varies hugely from insurer to insurer, meaning some people still risk being left underinsured.

This can cause more problems than just being unable to claim on stolen presents, as Julie Owens, head of home insurance at moneysupermarket.com, explained.

"Being underinsured can have a big impact on any home insurance claim you make. For example, if you have £45,000 worth of contents in your home but are only insured for £30,000, your insurer might only pay two thirds of a claim, even if it is for less than £30,000."

So, if you only have half the cover you need, your insurer can cap what it pays at half - even if you're only making a small claim.

Check your cover

If the worst does happen and a burglar raids your home, or a fire or flood damages your gifts and property, the last thing you want is to worry about whether your home insurance policy is going to pay out.

Read your policy carefully, or contact your provider, and find out exactly what is covered in your home.

Julie added: "Christmas is a prime time for thieves to strike and being underinsured is not worth the unnecessary heartache, and additional costs, to replace gifts in the New Year. You can save a great deal of time and money by speaking to your provider and increasing your cover where necessary."

When you compare home insurance policies on moneysupermarket.com, there's a handy contents calculator if you need one.

It helps you work out the value of the contents in each room so that you can be confident you've insured the full value of your home.


Protect your presents

Of course, it's much better to protect yourself against thieves and avoid the upset and insurance claim altogether.

Here are our top tips for keeping burglars out and the festive cheer in.

  • Hide presents out of site so you don't tempt opportunistic thieves.
  • Replace any older, weaker locks. We recommend five-lever mortice locks for external doors and two bolt locks each for windows.
  • Lock any high value items, such as jewellery, away in a safe.
  • If you're away over Christmas, put timers on your light switches to make it look like someone's home.
  • Fit a burglar alarm.
  • Don't leave keys around which might give thieves access to your car or your garage and never keep them on a table near the door. You don't want a burglar to hook them through the letterbox.
  • Install security lights around your home - many crooks will flee if they find themselves suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree.
  • Dispose of any boxes carefully. Don't leave Xbox-branded cardboard boxes piled up next to your bin after Christmas, as you're simply advertising your expensive gifts.
  • When you're away, ask someone you trust to pop in and pick up mail, as well as open and close the curtains occasionally, to disguise your absence.

Cover your Christmas

Of course, it's not just burglars that are a risk this time of year. The icy weather can risk damage to people's homes, so it's a good idea to take steps to protect it.

Read our article 'Winter-proof your home' for some tips on guarding against the bad weather, and watch our video 'Have you got Christmas covered?' to check you're ready for the holidays.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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