Protect your home against burglaries and high premiums

Published:
02 February 2012
Topic:
News,Insurance,Home

Homeowners in Leeds and London are the most likely to claim on their home insurance policies as a result of theft or burglary, according to new research from MoneySupermarket.

Stoke Newington in North London is top of the list for the most likely areas to claim for a break-in, with Apperley Bridge in Bradford and West Bromwich in the Midlands, coming a close second.

Meanwhile, LS13 (Bramley, Rodley, and Swinnow) is the most 'at-risk' postcode district in Leeds for claims relating to thefts from either the home or the garden.

Julie Fisher, MoneySupermarket's head of home insurance, said: "Home is where the heart is, and a burglary is an emotional and frightening experience.

"However, being in a higher risk area doesn't necessarily mean where you live is rife with crime - many thieves will target more affluent areas purely for the rewards on offer."

Does living in a high-risk area mean paying more for home insurance?

Home insurance providers take into account a number of factors - including the postcode you live in and its history of crime - when pricing your home insurance policy.

But most insurers take a blanket approach which means properties classified as being in a 'high-risk' area  can attract more expensive cover, even if they have never themselves experienced a break-in.

Julie Fisher said: "In my view this really needs to change. If houses were evaluated on a case-by-case basis, it would mean homeowners received quotes at the best possible prices based on their individual circumstances."

In the meantime, however, all you can do if you do live in an area that attracts burglars is to take measures to improve your home's security. Not only will this reduce the risk of your property being broken into, but it could encourage your insurer to offer you less costly cover.

What can I do to protect my home against burglaries?

When it comes to driving down the cost of your cover, your best bets are to replace any old locks with insurer-approved deadlocks, such as five-lever mortis locks, and to install an approved and professionally maintained alarm or security lighting system.

However, while any improvements of this kind should have a favourable effect on your premium, it is sensible to contact your insurer beforehand to check what locks and alarms will have the biggest reduction on your premiums.

You can be extra vigilant with day-to-day security too. Installing timers on your lights and ensuring valuables are kept away from your windows are easy steps to take to reduce risk, for example.

It also makes sense to store away items such as jewellery, laptops, cameras and MP3 players. After all, if a thief does get into your property, they are most likely to grab anything in sight that is of a high financial value. It follows then, that the less there is lying around, the more you should be left with.

If you are going on holiday, setting your lights to come on and off at intervals throughout the evening can also help to give the impression that your home is occupied, as can cancelling any unnecessary deliveries such as milk to prevent them collecting outside the door.

You should also ask a neighbour or someone local you trust to open and close curtains and collect mail for you while you are away.

Stay one step ahead of thieves

Another useful tip is to avoid leaving your keys close enough to the door to be hooked through the letterbox, or in obvious places outside the property such as in a plant pot, by the front door or even under the doormat.

Thieves often watch properties for a while before breaking in. If they can see that you tend to hide your keys in a particular place, this will offer them an easy way in - not to mention make it harder to claim on your home insurance policy, due to the lack of evidence of a forced entry.

Get 360 degree cover

It is also crucial to ensure that you are adequately covered for your home contents, including adding any valuable items - such as Christmas or wedding presents - that you may need to inform your insurer about.

"You never know when an opportunistic thief may strike, so it's crucial to ensure your home contents insurance is fully up-to-date, and is at a high enough level to cover all your belongings sufficiently," Fisher added.

You can compare premiums at MoneySupermarket's home insurance channel where 51% of our customers save more than £100 a year.

MoneySupermarket's Home Insurance monitor is a regular publication which features insight and analysis on the home isurance market and can be found here.

Flooding risks

Falling in the wrong post code for flooding is also a burden to homeowners - and it's set to get worse. Up to 200,000 households in the most major flood risk areas will face problems finding cover altogether from next June, when an existing agreement obliging insurers to continue providing cover while the government improves flood defences, comes to an end.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), some 7,550 homes will be affected in the northern towns of Boston and Skegness, 7,339 properties in the Vale of Clwyd in Wales and 7,125 more in Windsor.

How can I protect my home against flooding?

The government's advice for homeowners at risk of flooding is to come up with an action plan that they can set in motion in the event of a flood.

Tips include making a note of useful telephone numbers such as your insurer and utility companies as well as Floodline (0845 988 1188); ensuring that you know how to turn off your gas, electricity and water; and keeping valuable items upstairs if possible.

You can also invest in flood protection products such as sand bags or flood boards to block ground floor doors and underground pumps designed to extract floodwater as it enters your basement.

There is a cost involved - the ABI reckons that protecting a property against flash floods could cost around £6,000 - but, as well as being more prepared, you may also be able to negotiate a discount with your insurer.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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About This Author

Jessica Bown

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Financial journalist

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