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Invalidating home insurance

Find out more about the different ways you can invalidate your home insurance and how to avoid losing out in the event of a burglary or accident.

Inadvertently invalidating your home insurance can be surprisingly easy, so it's important to be extra conscientious.

Many providers may refuse to reimburse you if you drill through a pipe or electrical wire

Locking windows and doors and being honest with your insurer are some of the ways you can help ensure you're covered in the event of a burglary or accident.

Read on to find out more of the ways you can invalidate your policy - and to learn how to avoid them.

Damage and home insurance

Accidental damage covers most eventualities - acts of God, children running amok, and most breakages, leaks or spillages.

But there are some things accidental damage doesn't cover, and you shouldn't assume that this policy option is included in your home insurance.

Consider the following areas related to 'damage':

Home improvements and your insurance: dodgy DIY

Getting out the drill or hammer and doing a bit of DIY on a Sunday may seem like a good idea, but if you're accident prone check your insurance beforehand - home improvements can be a problematic area.

Many providers may refuse to reimburse you if you drill through a water pipe or electrical wire - calling in a professional could end up saving you money in the long run.House


Having builders on site increases the risk of doors and windows being left unlocked and, if you don't let your insurer know you're undertaking building work, accidental damage may not be covered.


Any damage caused by rats or mice may not be covered under your policy, so if you notice the presence of vermin it's important to act quickly.

Lay traps or get in pest control before any lasting damage is done to furniture or fittings.

Deliberate damage

Home insurance will usually only cover accidental damage - if any deliberate damage is done to your home or its contents, you're likely to be responsible for any repair.

This will usually apply whether it's done by you, a tenant or a visitor - check your terms and conditions for any variations.


Check your fire alarm on a regular basis and ensure it's in good working order - don't be tempted to remove the batteries unless you're putting in new ones, or it'll be useless if there's a genuine fire.

Opening windows and forgetting to lock them is easily done in the summer months


Insurers will ask how far your home is from water to assess your risk of flooding, so make sure you give as exact an answer as you can.



If you lose your keys or leave them under the mat and a burglar uses them to get in, your insurer may not cover you.

Keep keys safe and sound, preferably somewhere not easily visible to prying eyes.

Storing keys upstairs will minimise the risk of your car being stolen if you're the victim of a break-in - the last thing you want is to give a burglar an easy getaway.

Failing to use security

If you've got a home alarm and certain types of locks then it's all well and good declaring them to your insurer - it may reduce the price of your policy and give you added peace of mind.Five-lever mortice deadlock BSI

But if you don't use these security measures, your insurance could be invalid. Many insurers insist that if you have an alarm you need to activate it when out of the house or in bed.

Opening windows and forgetting to lock them is easily done in the summer months, but if a burglar gains unforced access into your house it could mean that anything stolen won't be replaced.


Insurers will want to know the standard of lock controlling entry to your front door, windows and other points of access - find out more about types of locks and ensure that you give your insurer the appropriate information.

Insurers are reportedly considering asking home owners if they use social media when assessing their applications

Not securing valuables or tools

Check with your policy provider what is insured for use in the garden. Secure any valuables like lawnmowers, shears or a barbeque in a shed with a lock, or in your house.

Any unsecured tools (ladders or hammers, for example) that are used to break into your home may invalidate your insurance, so keep tools under lock and key.

Failing to report a crime

To ensure your insurer covers you in the event of a theft, you must report it to the police within 24 hours in order to get a crime number.

Honesty is the best policy

Time away from home

Many home insurance policies will stipulate that you can't be away from your property for longer than a set amount of time (often 30 days).

If you're away on business, planning an extended holiday, or are going travelling for a few months, give your policy a read over, or consider taking out unoccupied home insurance.

Don't exaggerateDigital television

Exaggerating the value of your home insurance claim or an item for a genuine claim is retail fraud, and one of the most common types of insurance fraud.

If a laptop or TV has been stolen, inflating the cost of the item won't do you any favours and you could run the risk of invalidating your entire claim.

Declaring your home as a place of business

Running a business from home can save on overheads when you're launching a company, but clients coming and going means - from an insurer's perspective - an increased risk of theft.

There are numerous other aspects for insurers to consider, so make sure you keep your provider fully informed.

Stay off social media

Showing off your latest holiday on social media is tempting, but is it worth jeopardising your home's security for?

Advertising the fact that your property is empty, or even showing off your latest expensive purchase, could be seen as increasing your risk - and would at the very least leave you feeling foolish if you suffer as a result.

Insurers are reportedly considering asking home owners if they use social media when assessing their applications, as the risk of over-sharing becomes more and more common.

By Emily Bater