Let’s take a look.
‘Twas the month before Christmas…
There’s around four whole shopping weeks left until December 25, and while a hateful few will already have everything wrapped up, the majority of us are likely to be out spending soon.
MoneySuperMarket research last year estimated we’d spend an average of £445 on Christmas gifts. Jewellery and tech can make up a good portion of that and will be most attractive to thieves, offering the perfect ratio of value and portability.
Of course a bit of vigilance and common sense can keep the burglars at bay, as explained in the video below, but there are other potential hazards like dropping items down the stairs, or your pipes springing a damaging leak, so you need to have some kind of protection in place.
But are these additional valuables covered by your home insurance? In some cases, they are.
Season of good will
Yes: in the season of good will, some insurers automatically increase your sum insured to accommodate any festive extras you’ll have in your home over the next few weeks. The AA will automatically increase your cover by 20%, for example. Endsleigh and the Post Office will also increase your cover by 10% around this time of year.
Levels of additional cover over the Christmas period will vary from one insurer to the next, and can have all sorts of conditions and provisos attached, so you should read your policy documents carefully to know exactly what you’re covered for.
Research from AA insurance has found that, actually, burglaries are no more common around Christmas, nor as the nights draw in. But burglary is often an opportunistic crime, which means you should always take extra care with your Christmas valuables.
As if the increasingly cold weather wasn’t enough to motivate you, you should make sure all doors and windows out of your view are shut and locked. Even if you have home contents insurance, the insurer could refuse to pay out if a burglar gained access through an open window, as you’d have failed to take “reasonable care” of your belongings.
This will be particularly important in a few weeks’ time as the Christmas decorations go up. If you’re putting up outdoor lights and feeding the power cables through a window, you’ll need to make sure it can’t be prized open from the outside.
And if you’ve thrown out any branded boxes the gifts came in, break them down as much as possible and put them in bin liners – otherwise you’re advertising the contents of your home to potential burglars.
If you’re lucky enough to receive any particularly valuable Christmas presents this year, it might be worth a quick call to your home insurer to see if your level of cover needs to be adjusted or, in the case of something like an expensive musical instrument, if your gift needs any kind of specialist cover.
What about the car? Park & hide!
After a marathon Christmas shopping spree, your car could be bursting at the seams with gifts - but you should never leave valuables in plain sight in your car if it’s unattended (thieves are known to prowl retail park carparks looking for plunder). Stick as much as you can in the boot, out of sight, and carry everything else. Or if you’re visiting a number of shops in succession, consider leaving your purchases in the store and collecting them all in one go at the end of your expedition.
If everything is hidden in the boot and your car is broken into, then a comprehensive car insurance policy may give you a degree of protection. But with relatively small limits on how much you can claim, typically around £100, which might not be enough if you’re treating someone to some expensive jewellery.
If you have a home insurance policy with personal possessions cover, your gifts may be covered, but remember that the cover will have an overall limit, as well as a limit for how much you can claim per item – which may be less than the value of a gift. Limits vary from insurer to insurer, so check your policy documents and whether you’re covered outside the home.
Remember also that you will have to pay a policy excess when you make a claim on either your car or your home insurance, and you will lose any accumulated no claims discount.
To be on the safe side, park your vehicle in an attended car park, with your gifts locked in the boot, and you won’t go far wrong.