Common mistakes that can void your home and car cover – and how to avoid them

Like posting holiday pictures on social media sites? You could be at risk of compromising your insurance

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Many of us avidly post selfies on social media while we are away sunning ourselves on a beach or sashaying down the slopes on our skis.

But by putting pictures on sites such as Facebook and Instagram, you could be at risk of invalidating your home insurance. This is just one of a number of ways in which you could void your home policy.

Here we take a closer look at how you could unwittingly nullify your home cover – and also your car cover – and how to avoid these mistakes.

Top five ways people have unknowingly voided their home insurance:

  • Left window open when leaving the house or flat (31%)

Top tip: Always make sure you close – and lock – all windows and doors when you’re away from your home. You need to be equally security conscious even if you’re only in your own garden. An open or unlocked door or window will present an easy target, and a burglar can be in and out of your house in a matter of minutes. This could mean you are unable to claim for any burglary.

  • Posted a picture on social media while on holiday (25%)

Top tip: While it can be tempting to try and make your friends jealous by putting up lots of pictures of your holiday online, you need to be extremely careful. Criminals have become increasingly sophisticated and will be watching the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the hopes of picking up crucial information about householder’s movements. By posting pictures from your trip, you are essentially advertising the fact you are away. Be very careful about what you choose to post. Fail to do so, and you could find you are unable to claim if you return home to find your house has been burgled.

  • Put your house up for sale without notifying your home insurer (20%)

Top tip: If you’re looking to sell your house or flat, you need to put a call in to your insurance provider. You need to check if your policy offers cover for moving house. The best way to stay fully insured is to book a recommended removals company. Then, once you are in situ at your new home, you will need to have your contents re-evaluated as premiums are calculated on postcode and type of property.

  • Renovated your house or flat without notifying your insurer (17%)

Top tip: If you are planning on carrying out building work, such as digging out a basement room, or adding an extension, you need to let your insurance provider know. Insurers may view renovations as an increased risk, so if you fail to tell them, you could leave yourself unprotected should you need to make a claim.

  • Left a door unlocked when leaving the house or flat (16%)

Top tip: As mentioned above, you should always be diligent about locking the door every time you head out. The same applies to window locks and alarms. If you’ve told your insurer you have window locks – or an alarm – you must use them. If not, any claim could be deemed invalid.

Top five ways people have unknowingly voided their car insurance:

  • Driven with a pet on the seat unrestrained (21%)

Top tip: While your pet may enjoy riding on the passenger seat beside you, the Highway Code states that animals need to be ‘suitably restrained’ to ensure they don’t distract the driver. You should always ensure your four-legged friend is properly secured – in a seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard – as an unsecured pet could void your car cover.

  • Changed jobs or job title and not informed your insurer (19%)

Top tip: Your job description is one of the key considerations used by insurers to calculate the cost of your motor premium, so if you change your job, you need to let your insurer know. Equally, while it’s imperative that you are honest with your insurer, it’s worth seeing if more than one job title accurately describes what you do. Small legitimate changes can save you money. For example, you may be able to get cheaper car cover if you describe yourself as a ‘PA’ rather than a ‘secretary’ – or as a ‘proof reader’ rather than an ‘editor.’

  • Had an accident that has damaged your car and not informed your insurer (14%)

Top tip: While there is no obligation to make a claim on your car cover if you’ve had an accident and damaged your vehicle, you must tell your insurance firm about the accident. Failure to do so could mean you invalidate your policy.

  • Moved to a new house and not told your car insurer (9%)

Top tip: When setting their premiums, car insurers take your postcode into account, so you must contact your insurer immediately if you’re moving home. There’s a chance your premium could go down. Equally, if your new address is deemed more risky, your premium could go up. Either way, you need to be honest and update your provider with your new details at the earliest opportunity. You may have to pay an admin fee to get your address amended on your policy. But keeping quiet is a false economy, as you could end up with an invalid policy that won’t pay out should you need to make a claim.

  • Provided insurer with an incorrect mileage estimation (9%)

Top tip: As mileage is another key factor used by insurers to calculate your car insurance premium, you need to be honest about it. Underestimating your mileage could result in a claim getting turned down – and potentially also your policy being invalidated.

Make sure you understand your insurance policies

As any homeowner or motorist will testify, home and car insurance premiums can take a big chunk out of household budgets.

With this in mind, you don’t want to find yourself paying out money for a policy you can’t then claim on because you’ve done something that could compromise your cover.

Acts such as posting holiday snaps online – or driving with your dog loose on the passenger seat – may seem innocuous, but could void your policy.

With this in mind:

  • Check that you understand the key provisions of your home and car policies to ensure you’re not caught short.
  • If you’ve not read your policies for a while, re-read them to familiarise yourself with the Ts and Cs.
  • Always be honest and don’t try and withhold information from an insurer. Being dishonest – even if you think you’re only telling a small ‘fib’ – may lead to a claim being rejected. It could also lead to your cover being invalidated.
  • Make sure you’ve got the right cover for your needs. If you haven’t, shop around for a better deal.
  • You can compare home insurance here and car insurance here, and could get a quote in less than five minutes. You could save up to 44% on your home insurance* and up to £285 on your car insurance**.

All findings are according to polling of 2,000 people carried out between 18/06/20 and 25/06/20.

*51% of consumers could save up to 44.21%, Consumer Intelligence, March 2020

**51% of consumers could save up to £284.51, Consumer Intelligence, June 2020

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