It’s the height of the holiday season, when millions of Brits pack the car or jump on a plane and head off for somewhere hopefully warm and sunny. But can you be certain you’re securing your home to make sure it’s as safe as possible from burglary and damage while you’re away?
Don’t suffer because of simple mistakes
Many people only realise on return that they left a window open, or failed to cancel deliveries which make it obvious they’re not at home; and find their property has been ransacked.
Or it may be a maintenance issue; it could be winter, for example, and you turned off the central heating only to find burst pipes and water everywhere when you come home.
Not securing your property could invalidate cover
Such simple slip ups are easily made, and can lead to insurance claims which, especially in the case of doors and windows being left open, are rejected because the homeowner is deemed to be at fault.
At the very least, you’d have to pay the excess on your claim and lose your no claims bonus, not to mention the trauma and hassle of it all.
Here are the best ways to make sure that you don’t return to a nightmare scenario:
Outside the house
- Burglar alarms – Check the light is flashing showing the alarm is working and will act as a deterrent when seen.
- Windows and doors – Do a last external inspection of your home to ensure all windows and doors are shut.
- Outbuildings – Go around all outbuildings such as garages and sheds making sure they’re locked and are as secure as possible.
- Light motion sensors – Check any light motion sensors are switched on and working before you leave.
- Deliveries – Anything that you might have delivered on a regular basis, such as milk or newspapers, should be cancelled, if not, it can be obvious to criminals that you’re away.
Inside the house
- Windows and doors – Go around each one and check that they’re locked. If locks are looking loose or faulty, get them repaired or replaced before you go.
- Close doors – In the unlikely event that a fire occurs while you’re away, closed doors help slow the spread.
- Light timers – Switch on light timers for night time and early evening. If you haven’t got any, consider buying them as they’re pretty good burglar deterrents.
- Electrical items and sockets – Unplug all electrical items that you can (obviously the freezer and fridge are more problematic) as it reduces the risk of fire.
- Lock away valuables and documents – If you’ve got a safe, use it, if not at least place valuables out of sight from windows, possibly even hide them away. The same goes for personal documents.
- Alarms – Switch the alarm on if you have one (especially if you’ve told your insurer that you do and that you use it, otherwise it could invalidate a claim if you’re broken in to but the alarm’s not on at the time).
Other security measures
- Neighbours – It’s a good idea to tell the neighbours you’re away and ask them to keep an eye on the place.
- Have someone come round – Even better, get a friend, neighbour or family member (whoever you trust), to come around a few times a week and open and close curtains, turn lights on and off, mow the lawn and trim the hedge; anything to make your home look lived in.
- Cars in driveways – Get someone to park in your drive and also move the car occasionally. Again, it makes your home looked lived in.
- Addresses on luggage – By all means put your email address or phone number and the place you’re going to on your luggage tag, but don’t put your home address!
Longer periods away and your home cover
You might be going on an extended break, or have a holiday home you visit regularly for a couple of months at a time. If so, be aware that nearly all home insurance policies only allow you to leave your property empty for a set period of time, after which your cover becomes invalid. This is usually after 30 days.
Extensions can be arranged quite simply over the phone, so just call your insurer or insurance broker before you go.
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