Cover up at home

Christmas may be the time of year to open your doors to friends and family, but leave that door open for too long and you never know who might sneak inside.

Research from Halifax shows that burglaries typically increase by 20% during the winter months with a surge in thefts during the Christmas period as opportunist thieves attempt to seize on the myriad of goodies that have made their way to our homes.

If history is anything to go by this year could see even more burglaries than usual thanks to the global economic downturn, with research from Abbey highlighting that during the last recession the number of domestic burglaries reported by the police in England and Wales rose by an astonishing 38.8%. One thing is for certain, with the average cost of a burglary at £2,000, few of us can afford to be under-insured during the Christmas period. Yet worryingly, many of us are.

Why Britain is under-insured

A survey commissioned by AXA revealed that Britons under-insure their home contents by almost £10,000 per household. The average value of home contents stands at £38,000 – but typically home contents are only insured for £29,000.

The problem is exacerbated over the festive season when expensive new items such as LCD TVs, iPods, games consoles, and jewellery enter the home. Though many home insurers automatically increase your cover over the Christmas period, some do not, meaning that unless homeowners take the time to reassess their home contents they could be left vastly out of pocket should a claim be necessary.

How to get the cover you need

If you’re unsure about the level of cover you have in place, get in touch with your home insurance provider as soon as possible. Make an honest assessment of the value of the contents in your property to ensure you are suitably insured.

Many insurers including Quinn Direct, Barclays, the Post Office, ehome insurance and the AA do offer seasonal increases in cover but you should check the terms and conditions to see how long this extended cover applies for and the extra amount it includes as policies do vary. For example, the AA offers a 20% increase of the sum insured from December 1-January 6 and ehome insurance offers a £3,000 increase during any month in which you celebrate a religious festival. By contrast, Quinn Direct offers a 10% increase through the month of December only and Barclays also applies its £3,000 increase during December.

With so many variations between insurers on seasonal uplift it’s important to check the small print. One phonecall to your provider is all it may take to prevent a seasonal headache.

If you find the costs of adding additional cover to your insurance policy to be too expensive, then take the opportunity to shop around for home insurance with our enhanced comparison tool. The new home insurance search features additional tools that allow you to drill down into policy detail to find not only the cheapest policy but the right policy for your needs. You can search for quotes from 43 home insurance brands and can also select up to five quotes that appeal to you and compare the policy details such as premiums, excess and flood cover side-by-side.

Avoiding home insurance claims

While home insurance can provide vital peace of mind in case the worst happens, in an ideal world you’ll never need to make a claim. To lessen the chances of having to make a claim over the Christmas period, take steps to enhance the security of your home. Here are our top five tips:

  • Out of sight, out of mind – Keep valuables out of the sight of eager thieves by storing them away from windows and preferably in cupboards or a safe if you have one. Close curtains early in the evening to keep prying eyes out.

  • Be careful with your rubbish – Thieves searching for clues can get a good idea what is inside your home if you leave boxes stacked outside. Think about how you get rid of your rubbish – consider taking it straight to a recycling centre or waste disposal site.

  • Don’t let them know you’re gone – If you’re planning to spend a few evenings out over Christmas then leave a light on at home with the radio switched on too, to give thieves the impression that the house isn’t unattended. Consider investing in time-switch lights and you could earn a discount from your insurer.

  • Don’t forget the garden – Keep ladders and bins out of sight as these could be used to gain access to a property. Fit a secure lock on your garden shed and consider investing in fence-tops, railings and strategically placed thorny bushes.

  • Enhance your home security - Fit visible, key-operated window and door locks and don’t risk leaving keys outside the property as burglars know where to look. Also consider adding home security devices such as burglar alarms, security cameras and security lighting – you could earn a discount if you consult your insurer about which devices to install.

Disclaimer: Please note that any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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