Money: ...and maybe burgled too

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The Independent Online
Insurers are warning that it could be a Merry Christmas for thieves as well, writes Steve Lodge. Home insurers received 46,000 burglary claims for last December, and theft claims are generally 15 per cent higher over this period than at other times of the year.

Burglars can be tempted to work overtime during the festive period because so many people are away or are out at parties, and because of the lure of potentially expensive gifts sitting round.

Homeowners should also be aware that, if they are burgled, expensive new gifts may not be covered.

"Popular presents such as personal computers (PCs), Playstations, hi- fi equipment and jewellery can often push the value of a household's contents beyond the sum insured," says Barrie Wells, managing director of Prospero Direct, the insurer. "Where an insurer has not been informed of an increase in value, if there is a theft householders may not be reimbursed for the full value of their possessions."

Some insurers offer an automatic increase in cover over the Christmas period - 15 per cent extra in the case of Prospero - to counter this problem. But even in these cases it may still be worth talking to your insurer. There may be limits on the value of certain items. And come the New Year this period of increased cover will end.