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Burglary and theft home insurance

How burglary and theft can affect your home insurance

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Written by  David McDermottroe
9 min read
Updated: 02 Feb 2024

Did you know if your area has a high crime rate, your home and contents insurance premium could be higher? We explain what areas of the UK are most affected by burglary and how you can make your home more secure to get cheaper home insurance.

The unseen threat: Understanding burglary and your home insurance

Burglary is an unsettling experience that can leave homeowners feeling vulnerable and violated. The intrusion into one's personal space is not only emotionally distressing but can also lead to significant financial strain. Valuable and sentimental items can be lost in an instant, leaving a lasting impact on one's sense of security. It's a harsh reality that many face, but one that can be mitigated with the right financial assistance.

In the face of such adversity, home insurance emerges as a beacon of hope, offering a safety net to those affected by the misfortune of a burglary. It's a crucial tool in the homeowner's arsenal, designed to alleviate the financial burden of property damage and the theft of belongings. But understanding the nuances of what home insurance covers, especially in the event of a burglary, is essential for every homeowner.

Woman setting security alarm

What is considered burglary, theft, and robbery?

It's common for people to use the terms theft, burglary, and robbery interchangeably, but they refer to different crimes with distinct legal definitions.

  • Robbery: This is a crime that involves force or intimidation to steal something of value. It's a violent crime that instils fear in the victim, such as a shop robbery or a mugging on the street.

  • Theft: Simply put, theft is the act of taking something with the intention of keeping it permanently, without the owner's consent. Examples include shoplifting or pickpocketing.

  • Burglary: This is defined as the unauthorised entry into a structure, such as a home or business, with the intent to commit theft or any other felony.

Does home insurance cover against burglary?

Home insurance is designed to protect homeowners against the financial consequences of burglary. Your home contents policy can cover the cost of replacing any of your belongings that were stolen, though the specifics will depend on your policy. It can cover high-value items like your mobile phone, TV, or laptop up to a certain amount, as well as things like clothes, furniture, and important documents such as your passport.

Moreover, your buildings insurance policy should cover damage caused to your windows and doors as a result of the break-in, as well as any fencing, outer gates, or outbuildings, though you may need extra cover for this. The contents of outbuildings, like your shed or garage, should be covered by your contents policy, as long as you’ve declared them.

What should you do if your home has been burgled?

If you find yourself the victim of a burglary, it's imperative to act swiftly and methodically. After you’ve contacted the police, you’ll need to notify your home insurance provider immediately, or at least within 24 hours of discovering the break-in. Make sure you gather as much evidence as possible, take photos or a video recording of the damage, and make a list of everything that has been stolen. Your home insurer may ask for evidence of you owning certain items and their value, including receipts or bank statements. The more detail you give your insurer, the better chance you have of your claim being accepted and paid out.

Am I covered for burglary if I’m away from home?

Your home insurance can cover you if you’re burgled away from home, but bear in mind insurers will ask that you take steps to protect your home while you’re away to reduce the chances of a burglary. Make sure you lock all your doors and windows and consider having a burglary alarm installed. These small steps let your insurer know you’ve made a conscious effort to secure your home, and it also acts as a deterrent to criminals to hopefully prevent a burglary at all.

If you’re away from home for an extended period, usually over 60 days, you’ll need to take extra cover to ensure your home and contents are protected. This is because unoccupied properties are more at risk, so some levels of your cover may be reduced while your home is empty.

Am I covered if my belongings are stolen from my person while I’m away from home?

When you step outside your home, the risk of theft doesn't necessarily diminish. If your belongings are stolen from you while you’re outside your home, you may be covered by personal possessions insurance (out-of-home cover.) This will usually be part of your contents insurance, either included as standard or available as an optional extra.

Are all my items covered by home insurance?

Not all items may be covered under your home insurance policy. Coverage depends on the policy's sum assured, which is the maximum amount the policy will pay for possessions. Some insurers set a maximum claim limit for all valuables, so it’s important you look into this when you take out your home insurance, especially if you own a lot of high-value items.

Single item limits

Most insurers will set a single item limit on your contents insurance. This will be the maximum amount of money you can claim for a single item. So, if a burglar stole a valuable necklace of yours worth £2,500, but your single item limit was £1,500, that will be the maximum your insurer will pay out.

New-for-old

When it comes to replacing stolen items, the concept of new-for-old coverage is an attractive option. This means that the insurance would replace the stolen items with new ones of equal value or provide enough pay-out to purchase new equivalents. It’s a consideration worth making when looking for quality home insurance, especially for high-value items, although not all policies offer this level of cover.

On the other hand, wear-and-tear (indemnity) coverage compensates for the item's current value, taking into account depreciation. For example, if a stolen laptop was three years old, the pay-out would reflect its value at the time of the theft, not the cost of a brand-new replacement.

Does contents insurance also cover cash?

Yes, most home insurance policies should cover cash theft up to a specified limit. It's crucial to check your policy for the exact coverage limits. Additionally, the coverage often extends to gift vouchers, travel tickets, and phone cards, but again, understanding the specifics of your policy is key.

Are items in my outbuilding like the garage and shed also covered?

Outbuildings are generally covered under home insurance if their contents are declared in the policy. It’s easy to forget about valuables stored in your outbuildings, like your bike or golf clubs. Make sure you list these valuables when taking out your home and contents insurance, so if a burglary does occur, you’ll have peace of mind that these stolen items can be replaced.

Where are burglary hotspots in the UK?

The cost of your home insurance policy can be influenced by your location. Insurance providers consider the local crime rate when quoting home insurance, with higher rates potentially leading to more expensive policies. Our burglary hotspots search tool can show you how often your neighbours claim on their home insurance because of burglary and theft. Just enter your postcode to find out how common burglary is in your area, compared to the rest of the country.

Is it worth claiming on my home insurance after a burglary?

Deciding whether to claim on your home insurance after a burglary is a personal choice, and will usually depend on the severity of the break-in. If the damage to your property or loss of possessions isn’t significant, you could save yourself money by fixing the damage yourself, rather than claiming on your home insurance. Claiming on your home insurance would mean paying an excess, and if the damage or loss isn’t major, you could end up spending more money than you would if you fixed the damage.

Our top tips to avoid a burglary

  • Make your home secure: Invest in alarms, quality locks, and security lights.

  • Secure outbuildings: Use curtains on garage windows to obscure the view.

  • Lock up: Always ensure doors and windows are locked, even if you're stepping out briefly.

  • Hide your valuables: The bedroom is an obvious place to store your valuable jewellery, so consider hiding your expensive items in places burglars wouldn’t expect.

  • Key safety: Store keys securely and avoid common hiding spots like under doormats.

Compare home insurance today

If you’re looking for quality home and contents insurance, MoneySuperMarket does the hard work for you. We compare home insurance quotes for you to find the best deal for your needs. Just tell us a little bit about yourself, your property, and the items you want covered, and we’ll put together a list of quotes for you to choose from. Once you’ve decided on your preferred deal, just click through to the provider to finalize your purchase and get the cover you need.

In the end, a quality home insurance policy is more than just a financial safeguard—it's a source of peace of mind. It's the assurance that, should the worst happen, you won't be left to shoulder the burden alone.

Kate Hughes
Kate Hughes
Money & Savings Expert

Our expert says

Any conversation around theft, robbery or burglary can start to feel like the world is just waiting to take your precious, hard-earned possessions off you. That isn’t true, but we do know that most of these types of crimes are opportunistic. That means anything you can do to keep your items and home secure, and to be vigilant while out and about is worth it – every time. Even if you’re only going to be gone for a minute or two. Do that and not only will you reduce the chance of becoming the victim of crime, but if you are, the claims process may be more straightforward.

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