Britain's doors are open to burglars: A survey out today says one in 10 homes has been broken into over the past three years. Vivien Goldsmith reports

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NEARLY one in every 10 homes in Britain has been burgled in the past three years, according to a Gallup survey published today, and in 24 per cent of cases, the criminals gained access without force.

'This suggests that British households are not taking sufficient security precautions,' said the Abbey National, which commissioned the survey.

When it comes to choosing home insurance cover, the cost of the policy was shown to be the most important factor - cited by 29 per cent of the respondents. Another determining factor was the trustworthiness of the insurer. Owners are much more likely than renters to have contents insurance - 87 per cent to 53 per cent - but the renters are much more likely to be burgled. Over the three-year period, 14 per cent of private tenants had been burgled compared with an average of 8 per cent of all surveyed.

Abbey National has produced the booklet Home Check to help people select buildings and contents insurance. On buildings insurance it alerts home owners to common exclusions which means that the property will be uninsured if, for instance, it is unoccupied for more than 30 days, for frost damage including frozen pipes, the cost of alternative accommodation beyond a certain limit or new homes between exchange and completion.

It warns people to ensure they are covered for replacing damaged or stolen items with new ones, for damage from fire or smoke, vandalism, break-ins, theft and burst pipes.

A check on all the providers in the table shows the variations in cover. There are other differences. For instance, all except Direct Line will cover cash in the home and the contents of the freezer and all will give full accidental-damage cover as an option, while it is an automatic part of the Nationwide package.

'Home Check' is available to the first 1,000 readers who write to Abbey National, Department 8300, Winterhill, Milton Keynes MK6 1HQ.

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