How to keep your home safe this winter

Latest statistics show that overall, crime has fallen 4% over the past year in England and Wales, but burglary is on the up having risen 3%. Home break-ins tend to peak in winter months as opportunistic thieves take advantage of the darker evenings.

So, insurance claims tend to rise this time of year, but it isn’t all down to thieves. Winter can be tough on our homes as the more extreme weather rages.

No matter what steps you take to protect your property, home insurance really is essential, so that if the worst happens, you’re covered and can replace your possessions.

You can compare policies and find the best cover for you at the lowest possible price by visiting our home insurance page.

People save an average of £116 a year by using our site, so it’s worth taking a few minutes to shop around.

Of course, while insurance helps pick up the pieces, it’s better to protect your home and lessen the chance of having to make a claim in the first place.

So, how can you make sure your home and possessions are as safe as possible? Here are some tips…

Keeping burglars at bay

Unfortunately, darker evenings give thieves even more opportunity to steal from people’s homes. Not only is it more obvious when no one is home, but it’s also easier to break in unnoticed.

Halifax Home Insurance senior claims manager Martyn Foulds explained: “Most burglars are looking for an easy target and the cover of darkness makes life simpler for them.

“It is not only the financial loss that we want to protect people from, but also the distress caused by knowing a stranger invaded the home.”

So what steps can you take to keep thieves at bay? Here are a few key ways to protect your home:

  • Lock doors and windows: This may seem obvious but it’s made extra important because some insurers will question why your home wasn’t properly secured if you do have to claim.
  • Don’t hide keys: It doesn’t matter how safe that spot underneath the plant pot seems, concealing keys isn’t safe – thieves know where to look.
  • Add an alarm: Don’t look like an easy target. If you fit your home with an alarm, many burglars will think twice before trying their luck.
  • Use a safe: If you do have expensive possessions, a safe is another way of securing them and bringing down your premiums – don’t forget to tell your insurer you’ve done so.
  • Draw the curtains: Don’t let passing thieves look into your home and start tallying up your TV, laptop and other expensive kit. Draw the curtains!
  • Use time-switch lights: If you’re away on holiday, time-switch lights can make it look like you’re at home. It’s much more believable than leaving the hall light on for two weeks.
  • Fit security lighting: If thieves are working under cover of darkness, light them up! Fit your home with security lighting and point it at your doors and windows – not at the end of the garden.

Weathering the weather

The winter weather can be undeniably harsh on our homes. Rain, ice, snow, wind, leaves, debris – all these things can damage properties and mean people have to claim on their home insurance.

So what can you do to keep your home safe? Here are a few tips:

  • Beware frost: Even if you are going away on holiday, it’s important to leave the heating on low to stop your pipes freezing up in a cold snap.
  • Check your tiles: If you have cracked or broken tiles on your roof, these could fly off in high winds and damage your property – or someone else’s.
  • Clear drains: Before the winter really sets in, make sure your drains and guttering are free of leaves.
  • Tidy the garden: Don’t leave loose items like garden furniture and plant pots outside. In high winds, these could blow around and break, or even damage your property.
  • Service the boiler: No one wants a broken boiler in the middle of a cold snap. Have yours annually serviced to make sure it’s working smoothly during the frosty months.


Coping with kids

Once the evenings become colder and darker, the whole family will spend more time inside. With energetic youngsters, this can be a recipe for disaster.

In fact, the insurer Sheila’s Wheels worked out that one in five parents have had to claim on their home insurance because their youngsters have damaged the house or broken some costly possession – particularly prized gadgets.

Here are some tips for protecting your expensive gadgets from your offspring:

  • Lock it away: When kids are small, you can put things high up on shelves, but as they get older this gets harder. Why not lock your DVD player and expensive games consoles away in a unit under the TV, so it can only be used with careful supervision?
  • Beware the cable menace: Trailing cables and running children equals a home disaster in the making. Protect your youngsters and your gadgets by taping down trailing cables and securing them with cable ties.
  • Watch the Wii: Without some careful planning, Wiis can wreak havoc in your home. Make sure your children know to use the wristband to prevent the controller flying out and hitting the screen. Clear a space before they play with any consoles, as in their excitement, things might go flying.
  • Burn off some steam: If your children can’t run around outside, consider enrolling them in afterschool clubs where they can burn off some energy playing sports.

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