Do you live in one of the 20 riskiest postcodes?

As recession bites, crime levels rise. In fact, during the first three months of 2009 £100million worth of insurance claims were made because of burglary, making it the most expensive quarter for five years.

But how safe is your home and do you live in a crime hotspot? If you do, you’re not only at greater risk of being targeted by thieves, you’re also likely to be paying higher premiums on your home insurance.

So where are these hotspots? Well, research carried out by moneysupermarket.com spells bad news for Londoners. Five of the top 20 crime zones are in the capital, while four are found in Nottingham. The remaining hotspots are in a broad mix of areas, north and south.

  Postcode District

 Town

 County

  NG5  Arnold  Nottinghamshire
 LE3  Leicester  Leicestershire
 NG2  West Bridgford  Nottinghamshire
 CH66  Ellesmere Port  Cheshire
 LS8
 Roundhay, Leeds
 West Yorkshire
 SW11
 Clapham
 London
 S8
 Sheffield
 South Yorkshire
 N8
 Hornsey
 London
 CR0
 Croyden  Surrey
 BN3
 Hove
 East Sussex
 NG3
 Sherwood  Nottinghamshire
 NG8
 Bilborough
 Nottinghamshire
 BR3
 Beckenhem
 Kent
 M28
 Manchester
 Greater Manchester
 LS15  Grossgates, Leeds
 West Yorkshire
 E17
 Walthamstow
 London
 BS7
 Bristol
 Avon
 SW6
 Fulham
 London
 SE23
 Forest Hill
 London
 SL6
 Maidenhead
 Berkshire

Julie Owens, head of home insurance at moneysupermarket.com said: “Properties classified as being in a ‘high-risk' area – whether that be for crime, or something like flooding or subsidence – could mean the price of your insurance premiums will be affected.”

Wherever you live, home insurance is a must, in addition to taking sensible precautions to secure your property.

Julie added: “Homeowners need to be extra vigilant when it comes to security for their homes. You never know when an opportunistic thief may strike, and I would advise ensuring your home contents insurance is fully up to date, and is at a high enough level to cover all belongings sufficiently.”

However, the cost of home insurance varies hugely and many households are paying more than they need – independent research found you can save an average of £116 a year on the cost of cover.

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Here are our top tips on how to get the best value insurance without compromising your level of protection.

Shop around

Many people stick with the same insurer year after year, but this is probably a costly mistake as loyalty rarely pays in this respect. Most insurers offer their most competitive deals to new customers, so it’s always worth shopping around and comparing prices rather than just accepting the renewal quote from your existing insurance.

Shopping around is easy. Moneysupermarket compares prices from 60 home insurance providers – more than any other comparison site – enabling you to identify the best deal in a matter of minutes. To get a quote, use our insurance comparison tool.

Pick the right policy

The lowest price won’t necessarily be the best deal and it can be a false economy to choose a cheapest policy as it may not give you the level of cover you need. When comparing deals, looking at what’s included is as important as the price. You can then ensure you get the best price for the protection you need.

Consider combining

If you’re a homeowner, you’ll need buildings cover as well as home insurance. Many insurers will offer a discount if you buy these together, so take a look at some combined quotes and see if it’s cheaper.

Pay annually if possible

Many insurers will charge more if you decide to pay monthly rather than annually. If you can afford to bite the bullet and pay for your cover in one go, you could save a considerable amount.

Secure your home

Ensuring your home is as secure as possible will not only reduce the chance of your being targeted by burglars, it could also slash the cost of insurance.

As Julie said, many thieves are opportunists, so do everything you can to make breaking into your home as difficult as possible.

Here are some essential steps to a more secure home.

Lock your doors and windows

Make sure you have adequate locks on all doors and windows and make sure you use them. It might seem obvious, but it can be tempting to leave a window open if you’re nipping out, particularly in the summer months. It’s also really easy to forget to close a window or lock the back door so get into the habit of double checking everything before you go out.

If you are burgled and your house isn’t properly secured, your insurer will ask questions and the risk is your claim could be turned down.

Secure your shed

If you have tools and expensive kit in your garden then make sure it’s locked away in a secure shed.

Also, check your home insurance policy extends to belongings that are kept outdoors.

Don’t hide keys

If you’re heading off on holiday and the neighbour is feeding the cat, then give them the key; don’t hide it in the garden. Thieves know where to look.

Fit an alarm

As well as being a deterrent, burglar alarms can reduce insurance premiums. Providers know that they reduce the chances you’ll be targeted by thieves.

However, in order to get a discount on your premium, you will have to have the alarm regularly serviced – and of course, it goes without saying, turn it on when you leave the house.

Set up a neighbourhood watch scheme

Insurers also often give a bit of a discount if there’s an active neighbourhood watch scheme in your area. If there isn’t, speak to your neighbours and consider setting one up.

Install a safe

Okay, this is not relevant to everyone, but if you have expensive jewellery or belongings in your home, a safe could help bring down your insurance costs.

Don’t forget to declare any particularly pricey property when you’re applying for your policy.

Add time-switch lights

You’ve probably gone on holiday before now and left a light on to scare away thieves but a more effective option is a time-switch light.

These really make it look like someone’s in – and it’s worth asking your insurer if it will give you a discount for fitting them.

Draw the curtains

With longer nights looming, it’s important to remember to draw the curtains when it goes dark and don’t leave valuable items lying around on living room or dining room tables, in view of opportunistic thieves.

Fit security lighting

Security lighting is a great way to chase off thieves, particularly as the evenings get darker. Make sure they light up your doors and windows, rather than the shadows of your garden.

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