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
Saturday 27 July 2013
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
Use the new pension freedoms to boost your retirement income
10 tips for taking out a personal loan
The 10 Best money-saving sites
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
Simon Read: Payday loans that are marketed at kids? Why not? They're already brainwashed into wanting products
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...
£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...
£45,000 - £65,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is a well-known APAC Corporate and...
£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...
Day In a Page
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000