Christmas can be a wonderful time of year but, unfortunately, it’s a time when house burglaries are on the increase. Prompted by shorter daylight hours, the opportunity of finding Christmas gifts or the chance of finding unoccupied homes because the owners are away makes your homes appealing.
As prevention is greater than cure, our guide to protecting your home this winter, we hope will give you some valuable advice.
Take simple precautions
- Use outdoor security lighting - At the front and rear of your home, automatic lighting can deter burglars as they won’t have the cover of darkness.
- Lock your windows - Check that all of your window locks work or get them fixed before winter, forced windows are a very common method of entry to properties.
- Lock your doors - Always lock any access doors behind you, even if you are at home.
- Lights on a timer - Set a timer for lights to turn on at dusk to create the illusion that someone is home.
- Timer switches for TV or Radio - This is a clever way to dissuade thieves as they think someone is home.
- Burglar alarm - If you have installed a British Standards approved alarm, remember to switch it on and use it if you have declared this to your insurer especially if you are making a claim.
- Lock all outbuildings - Sheds and garages should always be locked, not only to protect their contents, but also because burglars may use your tools to break into your property.
- Don’t hide keys outdoors - You could invalidate your claim if burglars find keys to enter your home. It’s a much safer option to leave keys with friends or family rather than leaving them under a flowerpot.
- Don’t leave keys near your front door - Leaving keys indoors that are visible, gives burglars an opportunity to either grab them from an open door or access the keys through your letterbox.
- Keep valuables out of sight - Installing a safe may be a good idea to keep your valuables locked away and out of sight. With the festive season just around the corner it’s a good idea to keep your tree out of plain sight especially if you are planning on putting gifts under the tree.
- Use your loft - If you have a loft in your property, storing gifts or valuables out of sight there could be the right solution.
- Social media posts - Never post your holiday arrangements, your address or talk about expensive gifts you have purchased.
- Decorating your home at Christmas - Never leave gaps in windows or door frames that burglars can prize open and gain access to your home.
Going away this Christmas?
If you are taking an extended trip of more than a month away, remember to check with your insurer that your property is covered before you leave.
In most cases you will be covered for 30 days, but if you are going to be away for longer we would advise you to contact your existing insurer and ask if they can insure your property for the time you are away. Ask them about costs and if there are any additional conditions. Failing this, you may need to speak to a specialist insurer who can cover your property for the time that you are away.
It’s also a good idea to ask a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your house whilst you are away. See the Police crime prevention page for official advice.
Protect Your Valuables
Home insurance can cover the cost of expensive items after a break-in, but losing items that hold a sentimental value can never be replaced by money. Therefore, protecting these items by marking them with an ultraviolet pen may improve the chances of these items being recovered.
Having a safe installed in your property is a good idea to keep your valuables out of sight and protected.
Insuring High Value Items
If you have items in your home that exceed your home contents cover limit you will need to ask your insurer to cover these items separately, to make sure they are protected. These items are known as ‘specified items’.
Do you need to insure Christmas presents?
At this time of year your home is even more attractive to opportunist burglars because of the potential Christmas goods you could have in your home. With this in mind, do you need to add to your home contents cover? We would always advise that you check with your insurer and ask if this cover is included in your policy, if not, and you want to take out extra cover, ask your insurer for guidance.
Check your insurance documents
At this time of year it’s worthwhile to check your home insurance cover provides you with the right level of cover taking into account the damage that the winter weather can bring. Do you know if your home insurance will cover you for storm damage? Have you included home emergency cover? Not all polices includes this type of cover automatically.
Preparing your home at the beginning of the winter before the weather conditions change is a shrewd thing to do. If you’d like to find out more about preparing your home against winter weather, take a look at our last article.
If you’re burgled – what should you do?
It goes without saying that if you are burgled you will want to get things sorted as soon as possible;
- Report the break in, any damage to the Police and ask them to give you an incident number.
- When you contact your insurer, remember to quote this number to them along with details of any damage and items that have been taken.
We would always advise you to shop around to find the right cover and price for your home insurance – Be Wiser is a great place to start.