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10 things that can accidentally invalidate property insurance

The nightmare scenario for anyone making an insurance claim is having it turned down, leaving them without any financial help to put things right. If the claim is only for a few hundred pounds, this might not be such a problem; but imagine if your house burns down, and you can’t claim to have it rebuilt?

Here are some tips to help you make sure you are not accidentally invalidating your insurance policy.

Locks on windows and doors – You need to accurately describe the types of locks your home has, otherwise you risk invalidating your cover. Leaving the key in the lock, or not shutting windows when out could mean burglary claims are denied, as there is no evidence of forced entry.

Social media – Don’t announce you’re away, or going away, on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Insurers are increasingly paying attention to social media when it comes to burglary claims, and it could be classed as negligence.

Extended breaks – If you decide to finally go on that 3 month trip of a lifetime, and something happens to your home after the first month, you will, in all likelihood, not be able to claim. Most policies set time limits on how long a property can be left empty by the policyholder. Speak to your insurer to arrange extra cover, or arrange a house sitter to make sure the house is not empty for long stretches.

Property maintenance – Many people assume that leaking roofs or dodgy drains are covered. However, insurers expect a certain level of home maintenance, so if your property isn’t kept in a reasonable state, future claims may be denied. Weather damage is usually only covered if it’s severe, such as due to violent storms or flooding.

Lodgers and short term lets – If you have a lodger who causes damage to your home, but you haven’t told your insurer you rent out a room, or rooms, the chances are you won’t be able to claim.

Flood damage – In the efforts to clear up after a flood, make sure you don’t get rid of the things an insurance assessor needs to see to provide evidence of the value of your claim.

Home improvements – Building work which alters the size or shape of your home, such as an extension into the garden, must be discussed with your insurer.

Alarms – If you tell an insurer that you have a burglar alarm, and that you use it, then you must activate it every time you leave your home.

Telling the police – Most home cover requires you to report criminal damage and theft within a certain period of time after it’s discovered.

Running a business from home – Insurers need to know if you work from home, especially if it involves a level of ‘risk’, such as cooking or carpentry. Insurers will also need to know whether any customers visit the property.

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