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Burglary and theft home insurance

Find out how burglary and theft can affect your home insurance and how you can reduce the chances of being burgled

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 04 November 2021  | 3 min read

Does home insurance cover loss due to theft?

In 2018 insurers paid out nearly £450 million in claims due to theft [1].

That's why it's so important to find the right home insurance to provide cover against burglary and theft.

Different policies provide different levels of protection, but most home insurance products will usually cover the cost of replacing items stolen from your home.

What you’ll be covered for will depend on the policy you take out and any high-value items you’ve listed separately.

Key Points

  • Where you live and the theft rate in your area will affect the cost of your premiums
  • What you can claim for will depend on your policy and the high-value items you’ve listed
  • When you’re calculating how much contents insurance you’ll need, don’t forget to include items in your garden, shed, and garage
  • For items to be covered when you take them away from home, you’ll usually need to take out a personal possessions add-on
  • To make a valid insurance claim you’ll need to have taken steps to reduce the chances of burglary and theft

Am I covered for burglaries if I’m away from home?

Yes, your home insurance will usually cover you for burglaries that happen while you’re away.

But when you’re taking out a policy you’ll be asked to take steps to reduce the chances of a break-in.

For example, your home insurance won’t be valid if:

  • You haven’t taken measures to secure your home properly
  • You leave your home unoccupied for more than 30 days in a row
  • You’ve left spare keys where they can be easily found, like under a doormat
  • You’ve told your insurer you’ve got a burglar alarm but don’t use it

Are my contents covered if they’re stolen away from home while on my person?

Not necessarily. Some policies will cover your belongings when you’re out and about, but others don’t.

Typically, you’ll need to buy a personal possessions cover add-on to your policy to protect your possessions when they’re outside your home.

Also known as cover away from home, this type of protection covers items you’re likely to take out with you - like phones, watches, jewellery, laptops and sports equipment.

However, there’s usually a single article limit for high-value items - this is the maximum you can claim for any one item.

For example, to cover items worth more than £1,500 when you’re away from home, you’ll often need to add them separately to your policy for them to be insured for their full value.

What should I do if I've been burgled?

  1. Contact the police

    Stay at a safe distance if you think intruders are still inside. You’ll need to let the police know what’s happened and ask for a crime reference number

  2. Avoid touching anything or clearing away mess

    Wait for the police to get in touch. When you can, try to video or take photos of the damage and list everything stolen

  3. Inform your bank

    Report any missing bank cards and cheque books immediately, also report any missing passports, driving licences and other important documents

  4. Let your insurer know

    Contact your provider within 24 hours of discovering the burglary - they’re likely to ask for your crime reference number, so have it to hand

  5. Keep repair receipts

    Fix broken windows or door locks straightaway, check with your insurer whether they’re covered under your policy and keep any repair receipts

Are the contents of my garden, shed and garage covered for theft?

Most home insurance policies will cover your garden goods and items you keep in your shed and garage. But the level of cover will vary depending on the policy you buy.

What you keep in the garden and things you store in sheds and garages can be easily forgotten when you’re adding up the value of your contents.

To make sure you’re not underinsured take a close look at what’s there - the cost of replacing garden furniture, power tools, bicycles and lawnmowers etc. can soon add up.

Some insurers will only cover outdoor items if they’re locked away overnight, which is often the case for bikes and gardening tools, so check your policy.

Does home insurance cost more if I live in a high-theft area?

Yes, where you live can play a big part in how much your premiums will cost.

If you live in an area where there’s a high crime rate, it’s likely you’ll pay more than living in a low-crime neighbourhood.

How to tell if you're in a high-theft area

To check if you’re living in a high crime rate area and to see the levels of theft in your neighbourhood, you can take a look at the crime rate website.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), police recorded a 30% decrease in burglaries in the year ending March 2021, compared to the previous year.

But theft rates vary a lot depending on where you live. 

When you’re applying for a home insurance quote, insurers will look at your postcode and the crime rate in your area to work out how much your premiums will be.

How to reduce the likelihood of being burgled

There are lots of things you can do to help burglar-proof your home and garden, make your property safer and reduce your risk of theft:

  • Get a burglar alarm - Alarm systems, security lights and cameras can be a big deterrent and they could help to reduce your home insurance premiums too
  • Lock your doors and windows - Checking doors and windows are locked can stop opportunist thieves and getting insurer approved locks fitted can help lower premiums
  • Keep quiet about your holiday - If you’re going away only tell people who need to know and don’t share holiday snaps on social media until you’re back home
  • Put timers on - Having lighting that’s set to come on at intervals can help your home to look occupied and deter burglars
  • Keep keys in a secure place - if burglars find and use a key to enter your home and steal items, you won’t be covered by your home insurance. So, don't keep them under your doormat
  • Don’t leave valuables in sight - Hiding things like car keys, jewellery, tablets and phones from plain view can prevent burglars from being tempted to break-in
  • Make your property look occupied - One of the best deterrents of all is to make burglars think you’re still at home, so don’t make it obvious that you’re away
  • Have someone check in - Ask a friend or neighbour to visit your home to clear away any post by the door and check everything is in order 

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[1] According to ABI.org.uk in 2018