Garages can contain thousands of pounds worth of bicycles, power tools and gardening equipment, yet many homeowners give little thought to their garage security. In this guide we explain how to keep your belongings safe and ensure you have adequate garage insurance.
Improve your locks
'Up and over' garage doors are usually fitted with a central locking door handle, which are often quite weak and easily broken by burglars. A simple solution is to drill a hole in the top channel above the wheels and insert a padlock into the hole. This prevents the wheel moving above the padlock, thereby keeping the door closed.
If your garage has a wooden pedestrian side door, you should be able to fit a mortice deadlock, with at least five levers, conforming to British Standard (BS) 3621.
If you keep bicycles in your garage, you will not normally receive a payout for theft unless the garage was locked.
Large and expensive items in the garage, such as bicycles and lawn mowers, should be shackled together and if possible secured to a permanent fixture such as a cemented metal post
Get an alarm
If your home already has a burglar alarm it is worth extending this to the garage as well. Alternatively you can buy separate garage alarms, operated either by battery or from the mains electricity, from DIY stores.
What's in your garage?
Valuable items such as power tools, golf clubs or telescopes should be stored securely in your home, not in a garage where they are more vulnerable to theft.
Large and expensive items in the garage, such as bicycles and lawn mowers, should be shackled together and if possible secured to a permanent fixture such as a cemented metal post. This will make it difficult for thieves to remove.
Cover against theft
Belongings in your garage are normally covered for theft under your home contents insurance. Most policies have a maximum limit for theft of around £5,000 for 'outbuildings', which includes your garage, shed, summer house and greenhouse.
Have a think about the total value of stuff stored in your garage and other outbuildings. Would your home insurance payout be enough to compensate you? If not, talk to your insurer to see if it can provide additional cover.
It's worth remembering that insurers have a 'single article limit' which is the most it will pay to replace one specific item, regardless of where it is kept. This limit varies amongst insurers but is normally between £1,500 and £3,000.
Anything above this limit kept in your garage should be specifically declared to your insurer, otherwise you will not receive its full value if the item is stolen or damaged. Additional cover can usually be arranged at an extra cost.
Cover against fire, flood and storm
Have you thought about what would happen to your belongings if your garage became flooded, or there was a fire? What about if a vehicle crashed into your garage door, or a tree fell on top of the roof?
Repair of the garage itself should be covered under your home buildings insurance. The term 'building' normally refers not just to the bricks and mortar of your house, but your garage and other outbuildings as well.
Cover for damage done to your belongings in these scenarios would be included in your home contents policy. Unlike for theft, there is not normally a maximum pay-out limit for damage caused by fire, flood or storm.