Find out more about the different ways you can invalidate your home insurance and how to avoid your claim being rejected after a burglary or incident.
Problems with claims usually come about because you’ve unwittingly forgotten to mention something important to your insurer, or you’ve tried to claim for something that you thought was covered, but it isn’t.
Your home insurance will be invalid if:
But claims can be rejected for a number of reasons – bad DIY, or taking a long holiday are just two examples you might not know about.
Your policy documents will list exclusions, but here are some common scenarios.
If you have accidental damage cover included on your policy it’ll cover most unforeseen breakages, leaks or spillage - but there are some exceptions.
Some damage just won’t be covered by your home insurance if it’s caused by your negligence, or if you’re covered elsewhere.
Some policies won’t cover you if you drill through a water pipe or electrical cable, so getting a professional to do the work might save you money.
Having builders on site increases the risk of windows and doors being left open or unlocked.
If you don’t let your insurer know about the building work, accidental damages caused by work people might not be covered, and you wouldn’t be covered if a burglary occurred due to a door left unlocked either.
When you appoint people to work on your home, always check they have their own insurance in place as well.
Damaged caused by mice and rats might not be covered under your home insurance, so if you notice the presence of vermin, it’s important to act quickly.
Lay traps or call in pest control to handle them, before any lasting damage is done to your home.
If any deliberate damage is done to your home or contents, you’ll have to pay for repairs yourself.
This applies whether the damage was done by you, a tenant or a visitor.
If a burglar can simply walk right into your home, take your valuables and escape just as easily, it’s no surprise that any claims for the theft wouldn’t be covered by your home insurance
Not securing your home properly or taking unnecessary risks could mean your insurer refuses to pay your claim due to negligence.
Keeping your keys in a key safe, or under a doormat, may invalidate your home insurance if a thief uses them to break into your house.
Your insurer may also not covers thefts due to lost keys or keys given to a friend or neighbour.
To secure your home and keep your insurance valid, keep your keys indoors, out of sight and reach of windows and doors.
You could even store your car keys upstairs, so they are harder to find and don’t provide intruders with an easy getaway.
If you’ve got a home security alarm and certain types of locks, declaring them to your insurer could reduce the price of your home insurance, as well as giving you peace of mind.
But declaring these measures and not using them could invalidate your policy. Many insurers insist that if you have an alarm it must be activated at certain times, like when you leave the house, or are asleep.
Opening windows or forgetting to lock them could also void your insurance, and if a burglar gains unforced access to your home, you wouldn’t be covered for anything stolen.
Tell your insurer what locks you have on your windows, front and back door. Don’t say you have a more secure lock than the one you have.
Secure any garden furniture or tools in a locked shed, or in your house.
Unsecured tools, ladders or hammers for example, that are used to break into your home might invalidate your insurance.
If you’re not truthful when applying for home insurance, you’ll be giving your insurer misleading information.
This means that any claims you make will be invalid, where the facts don’t match what you’ve previously told your insurer.
Most home insurance policies say you can’t be away from your home for more than a set amount of time (usually 30 days).
If you’ve told your insurer you have a fire alarm, make sure it works and check it regularly. Don’t remove the batteries unless you’re putting new ones in, or it’ll be useless if there’s an actual fire.
Insurers ask how far your home is from water to evaluate the risk of flooding, so be as accurate as possible.
Inflating the cost risks invalidating your claim.
Running your business from home can save you a little on start-up costs, but clients coming and going means an increased risk of theft, from the perspective of your insurer.
Conducting business from home is something your insurer needs to be informed about, to accurately calculate your premium price.
Posting about your holiday on social media is advertising that your home is, or will be, empty.
Even showing off an expensive purchase could be seen as increasing the risk of theft, so it’s best to keep it to yourself, and only tell people you trust.
An extra person in the house, especially an almost stranger, increases the risk of accidents and damage to your home.
Not declaring a lodger could invalidate your policy, especially if you need to make a claim as a result of damage caused by them.
Don’t hesitate to call 999 if you’ve been a victim of theft. To be covered by your insurance for a theft, you need to report it to the police within 24 hours to get a crime reference number.
If you feel your claim has been unfairly rejected: