It’s a fairly heart-stopping moment; you arrive home after a weekend away and realise you’ve left the front door open the whole time. Anyone could have walked in and stripped the house bare, potentially taking valuables which could be a life-time’s worth of treasured possessions.
And if you have been robbed in such a way, along with the emotional stress there are also potentially serious financial ramifications to being so forgetful. In fact, it might mean your home insurer won’t cover the cost.
Understandably, home insurers expect you to maintain a certain basic level of home security. So leaving the front door open and subsequently being burgled is one scenario in which you shouldn’t expect an accommodating reaction from an insurer.
Keep secure or pay the price
There may seem to be a million and one things to think about before you go away, but making sure your property is as burglar-proof, and generally as prepared as possible for unforeseen events, should be very high on the list.
Lockdown the house – Locking down a house before going away might seem like common sense, but not everyone does it. Walk through your home as the last thing you do, checking all entrance doors and windows are locked, including any locks on shed doors and doors into gardens.
Keep keys out of sight – It’s common for many people to leave keys in pots or mugs near to where they’re needed. Move them to a place where they can’t be seen as a hand through a smashed window might easily reach them.
Cancel the mail – A pile of newspapers and letters on your doormat or in an external collection point is a clear sign you’re away, so cancel as many mail, newspaper, milk and other deliveries as possible.
Put lights on timers – Buying timer switches for a number of lamps and lights around the house can be very effective for warding off burglars. A simple plug in version is fine.
Fill your driveway – Ask friends and neighbours to occasionally (or all the time if they like!) park in your drive
Use hi-tech – There are a number of relatively cheap tech devices now available which allow you to keep an eye on your home via a series of linked small cameras relayed to your smartphone.
Place valuable items out of sight – From laptops to tablets, televisions, jewellery and musical instruments, place as much of value out of sight of windows and in a secure place.
Alert neighbourhood watch or community police – If you have a neighbourhood watch scheme in your area, tell them you’re going away, or inform the local community police, you’d be surprised at how responsive and watchful they can be on your behalf.
Burglar alarms – If you’ve got one, test it before you go away (partly so it doesn’t go off and annoy the neighbours), and make sure it’s turned on when you leave. If you haven’t got one, consider it.
External lights – External lights which are motion sensitive can be a very effective way of scaring off potential intruders.
Central heating – If you’re away during the colder months, place your boiler on ‘frost’ setting, or at least time it to come on during the coldest parts of the morning and night.
Gas and electrical appliances – Make sure all gas and electrical appliances, such as cookers, fires, TVs and standing lights are switched to off. Consider switching the gas off at the mains (if it’s not winter and needed for the boiler).
Specific insurance cover requirements
Check your insurance policy and if there’s any specific requirements for things you must, or must not do, such as setting the thermostat to at least a minimum temperature if it’s very cold, or turning on burglar alarms, for example.
Policy Expert is an online Home Insurance broker, dedicated to helping customers find the insurance policy that’s right for them. Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, so we have a team of experts with a real passion for making sure people get the cover that’s right for them. Policy Expert is driven by a desire to help you find not only the best value insurance, but the right insurance for your individual needs. To speak to one of our experts, call 0203 014 9300 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
James is a journalist and digital editor with over 13 years’ experience writing and editing for media and finance businesses. He specialises in personal finance and economics, but also covers property, travel and news.