If you’re planning to buy expensive high-tech items or jewellery as gifts this Christmas – or hope to receive them – then you need to check you’re covered by your home insurance.
Insurer GoCompare reveals that out of 458 home contents policies it reviewed, 90% automatically provide extra cover over Christmas for gifts, food and drinks, with some increasing the value of cover by 10%.
However, the comparison site points out that this top-up cover is temporary, with some insurers offering extra protection only during December and others offering extra insurance just for the month before and after Christmas.
GoCompare also advises consumers to check whether any big-ticket items, such as jewellery and watches, will be covered if there is a maximum your insurer will pay out for an individual item. Some insurers’ single item limit can be as low as £750.
If you want cover for portable items, such as mobile phones and laptops, while out and about, you may need to buy extra ‘personal possessions away from home’ cover. GoCompare found that most insurance policies (84%) only offer cover as an add-on, for which you have to pay extra.
Also take a look at your insurance policy’s exclusions as certain items, such as bicycles, may only be insured as an optional extra. Only 61% of policies GoCompare reviewed provide cover as standard for pedal cycles, with a further 36% requiring you to buy additional cover and 2% excluding bicycles altogether.
Protect your home this Christmas
Meanwhile, insurance broker Swinton Group offers these tips for a theft-free festive season.
1. Don’t leave gifts in sight
Don’t leave gifts, high-end gadgets and expensive technology in plain view of windows, as opportunist burglars may be more attracted to your property than others on the street.
Also keep house and car keys out of sight from passers-by and far away from your letterbox. Burglars can use a hook device to steal these from inside the house.
2. Lock up
Most burglars will get in through an unlocked window or door, but many of us forget to lock up when we leave the house or go upstairs – even if it’s just for five minutes.
Most home insurers will expect you to keep all windows and doors locked to ensure your contents policy is valid.
Check the strength of your main entry door, which should be 45mm thick with solid hinges and mortice and pick-resistant locks. Adding a door chain may give you extra peace of mind.
3. Contact your neighbours
Being part of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme will help you to get to know people in your local community and you can work with police to ensure that your area is protected against crime.
If you don’t have a scheme in your street, chat to your neighbours and ask them to keep an eye on the house if you’re going out a lot during the festive period – and return the favour.
4. Be prepared
If you’re going on holiday or are away visiting family or friends, take measures to make your house appear as occupied as possible. Set up lighting timers, lock all windows – even the small ones – and back doors, and alert your neighbours.
Asking a neighbour to pop in every couple of days will show any lurking burglars that somebody is at home. Remember to cancel newspapers or milk deliveries if you will be away for a while.
Some insurance cover can become invalid if you leave your home empty for weeks, so give your provider a call before jetting off.
5. Install an alarm
It may be too late for this year, but installing a burglar alarm should top your to-do list. Having an alarm will not only give you a chance to take action if you are burgled, and if it’s clearly visible on the outside of your home, it may also act as a deterrent to thieves.
If your new alarm is fitted by a company certificated by a recognised provider, such as the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board, your insurance may offer you a discount on your policy.
6. Add security lights
Add some motion-detection security lights around the exterior of your house, which will turn on as soon as they sense movement. If you’re not expecting visitors, this will warn you that an intruder is nearby. Install these higher up on walls, so criminals can’t disable them.