Insurance: Summertime and the thieving is far too easy

Make sure you're fully insured: winter is not the only dangerous season, says Chiara Cavaglieri

We usually associate damage to our homes with bad winters – from burst pipes to boiler breakdowns – but summer also poses risks. Whether it's thieves making the most of an open window, or scorching temperatures causing subsidence, make sure that you've got it covered.

Your garden

Garden thefts spike in the summer so keep the shed or garage locked. If you have expensive garden furniture and equipment, standard insurance policies often limit cover for contents left outside to £500 to £1,000, and many won't automatically include plants and shrubs. There may be a separate limit for items put away in sheds and greenhouses, although many policies also impose a "single article limit" of around £250.

Anything fixed in place, such as a water feature, shed or greenhouse, is covered by your buildings insurance, while portable items such as barbecues, tables and chairs come under your contents cover. A hot tub can fall under either policy so check with your insurer before you install one.

Accidental damage

"The summer can be a fantastic opportunity for a Great British barbecue with friends or family," says Mark Greening of the comparison site Gocompare.com. "Unfortunately, having more people around can lead to accidental breakages. But if you have accidental damage cover on your policy, you should be covered for mishaps caused by either yourself or your guests,"

Some mainstream insurers include accidental damage to electrical items – such as televisions, DVD players and computers – as standard, so check your policy documents before adding additional cover. Insurers don't usually pay out for wear and tear, or damage caused by a pet.

Going on holiday

Secure the house before you travel, and if you're planning a long trip, talk to you insurer; most policies only cover you if you're away for no more than 30 consecutive days.

Deter thieves by giving the impression you're at home. You can use a timer, for example to switch on indoor lights. If you leave a key with a friend or neighbour, they could also open and close curtains and collect the post, as well as picking up on any emergencies such as a water leak (one of the most common causes of home insurance claims). "Unchecked, a leak could cause a lot of unnecessary damage," says Tom Stringer, head of the AA's Home Emergency Response service.

Before you go, the AA advises you to take precautions such as turning off your stopcock, unplugging electrical appliances and unblocking gutters and drains.

Finally, check all the windows are secure and the doors locked. It's worth paying for quality locks and burglar alarms as most insurers offer discounts for superior safety features.

Subsidence

Long periods without rain can be bad for the foundations of your home. Subsidence occurs when buildings shift position after thirsty trees and shrubs nearby suck moisture from the ground. In extreme cases, this can cause major structural damage, so look out for early signs such as cracks on walls, floors and ceilings (if they're thicker than a 10p coin, tell your insurer) or warping around doors and windows.

Edwardian and Victorian houses are more susceptible to subsidence as they have shallow foundations. You can minimise the risk by not planting trees or large bushes, and if you are worried about an existing tree, either prune the branches or see if you can have it removed.

Subsidence damage is generally covered as standard. However, if trees on your property cause a neighbour's house to subside, only a few insurers (including Axa, Nationwide and Swiftcover) will automatically pay for the cost of a survey and cutting the offending trees down.

Home improvements

If you're planning renovation work on your home, you risk invalidating your policy if you don't consult your insurer before you start work. Buildings premiums are partly based on the cost of rebuilding the structure of your property, so your insurer will want to know about any renovations that affect the value of your home, including permanent fixtures and fittings such as built-in kitchens.

If you need to move out while major work is in progress, most policies state that if you leave your home unoccupied for a certain period (typically 30 days but it could be as short as 14), you won't be fully covered.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

    Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

    £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

    Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

    £23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee