Home insurance guide - the basics
Home insurance offers protection for your property and its contents, giving you peace of mind that if something goes wrong you will be looked after financially, so that you can put it right again.
One of the greatest threats to householders is burglary – with Government figures indicating that a burglary takes place every 20 seconds in England and Wales. According to figures from Saga, about half of burglaries happen when the home-owner is away on holiday – and with the economic downturn the number of breaks-ins is expected to increase. Other threats include floods and fires, which can damage the actual structure of the property. So, how do you go about protecting your home and its contents?
The two main types of home insurance
There are two main types of home insurance, both offering protection for different things.
Home buildings insurance protects the structural 'bricks and mortar' of your property – so if it is damaged or destroyed (in a fire or flood, for example) you will be able to have it repaired or rebuilt. If you rent your home, you do not need to worry about taking out buildings insurance because this is the owner's responsibility. If you own a property, however, you usually need buildings insurance in order to secure a mortgage.
The other main type of home cover is household contents insurance. It is not compulsory to take out contents insurance, but you should seriously consider it regardless of whether you rent your home or own it. This type of insurance provides cover for your belongings (furniture, soft furnishings, electrical goods, and so on) if they are damaged or stolen.
Are you risking it all by having no insurance?
Shockingly, around a quarter of all households do not have any contents insurance, which means they will receive no compensation if their belongings are lost or ruined as a result of burglary; accidents; or storm, flood or fire damage. At the same time, less than 65% of households have buildings insurance, which means more than a third will face massive personal expenses if their property has to be repaired or rebuilt.
Burglar-proofing your home
There are many ways you can help to protect and burglar-proof your home, including the following:
- Make sure all your doors and windows are locked
- Consider fitting garden security lights and a burglar alarm
- Keep valuables kept out of sight
- If you're off on holiday, ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property, and perhaps to move your post out of view if you're away on holiday
- Lock sheds / outhouses
- Keep garden shrubs trimmed back to reduce the number of hiding places for burglars
Check for exclusions in your policy
Finally, always check the small print on your insurance policies so that you are fully aware of exactly what you are covered for, and what you're not – and make sure the level of cover you have is adequate.
Protecting your valuables
You can also help to protect your household contents by investing in some Crimestoppers Property Protector, a clear liquid solution which you use to mark your valuables. If you're burgled and the police find your belongings, this makes it easy for them to return them to you. Each bottle contains a unique combination of micro-particles, with no two bottles the same – so, while the liquid is invisible to the naked eye, and almost impossible to remove, it can be picked up by police scanners and traced back to the original owner. Along with the bottle of liquid, you also receive a UV light key ring and a set of 'Thieves Beware' stickers, which you can display on your windows to help deter potential burglars.