Taking out home insurance is one of the most important things we can invest in. Not only does it cover us financially should a disaster happen, but it also provides peace of mind.

Hopefully, you will never have to make a claim but if you do find yourself in this situation you would naturally assume you are covered from theft and damage.

However, after you took out your policy, did you ever take the time to really inspect the small print? There could be stipulations written into your policy that you weren’t aware of that could lead to an unpaid claim.

Below are the most common mistakes made that can lead to you being out-of-pocket when making a claim.

1. Building Works and Renovations

Instead of taking on the hassle of moving home, 2-in-5 of us are now choosing to make renovations to our current properties to gain much-needed space. But make sure you alert your insurer before any work is carried out.

If you are simply replacing carpets or getting new kitchen cabinets, you will not need to declare this, but any structural changes should be voiced.

This is because the value of your home will most likely rise, and your policy needs to reflect this. Your premium may rise but this will be worth it as any claim could be voided should your value not be correct.

You also need to make sure any extensions are not infringing on neighbouring properties. Have your neighbours obtained the right to light? This is when a property has benefitted from natural light for a certain period and your new building works could block this.

By putting in place right to light insurance, this can protect you from any scary situations should your neighbours demand compensation, or even worse, they may apply to force you to tear it down. You can read more at www.lawsureinsurance.co.uk/our-products/title-protection/rights-light/.

2. Holiday Selfies

Social media is a brilliant way to keep in touch with friends and family and we all love sharing our memories with holiday snaps. But what happens if you have done this and you are burgled?

Your policy will state that you must take ‘reasonable care’ to ensure the security of your home and posting these photos in realtime can be deemed as you not doing so. When you post holiday photos, especially with location tagging, you are openly saying to the web that you are away, and your property is vacant.

Burglars will then see your property as an easy target. Statistics have revealed there is a direct link between posting vacation photos and an increase in burglaries.

You can still share these memories online, but it is best to wait until you return before doing so.

3. Updating Your Doors & Windows

Installing new doors and windows is a great way to give your home a facelift but if you do not tell your provider you have done this, they may void a claim.

When you took out your policy, you will have been asked countless questions about your home security, including what doors and windows you have, your premium will have been based on these answers.

It is likely your home security will have risen with these new installments, but this doesn’t mean your insurer will be happy with them if you did not let them know.

You will also need to make sure you obtain FENSA certificates from whoever installed them as your insurer may ask for these when updating your policy to make sure they were properly fitted.

4. Renting a Room

If you have a spare room in your house, renting it out is a great way to make a bit of extra cash and 3% of us are now doing this.

But not all insurers will provide cover to partially rented properties. Even if your most trusted friend is moving in, providers will see this as a strange adult with access to keys and your belongings and see it as a security risk.

Before someone moves in, you must always call your insurer and alert them to this, you may be required to take out extra cover, but it will be worth it to avoid an unpaid claim in the future.

5. Doggy Doors

Dogs are part of the family and we always want them to have the best life possible. Unfortunately, as much as we may wish otherwise, we cannot be with them all the time and they will have to be home alone.

Installing a dog flap is a great way for our pooches to enjoy our garden while we are out but your provider will see this as a security compromise.

Nimble thieves may be able to squeeze through these and have access to your valuables within seconds and if you have not declared this, your insurer may not payout.

Most providers are happy for you to install a dog flap, if you declare it to them first.

6. Having an Empty Property

We all go on holiday throughout the year and your insurer will understand that your home will be empty for a few weeks at a time. But if you are leaving your property for a longer period, you must declare this.

Typically, the time period is anything over 30 days, but this can vary between policies. By letting your insurer know you are protecting yourself, you may be required to take out unoccupied property insurance, but this cost will be small compared to having to find the funds to cover a voided claim.

7. Exaggerating Your Wealth

You will be asked how much your contents are worth when taking out your policy and many of us hazard a guess. The average UK contents are worth £35,000 but this doesn’t mean it applies to you.

If you have been found to inflate your content worth, whether by accident or deliberate, your claim can be invalidated. Really take the time to evaluate how much you would need should disaster, such as fire or flood, happen.

Don’t forget to include smaller household items, such as toys and clothes and remember that high-value items like jewellery or art may need to be declared separately.

8. Not Locking Your Door

This may seem like an obvious thing to do but if a burglar enters without force, it is unlikely your claim will be paid. 15% of burglars gain access through unlocked windows so make sure you don’t forget to lock them too!

Even if you are just popping to the car or running to the corner shop for a pint of milk, always lock every entrance to your property. Burglars are opportunists and will take advantage of your mistakes.

About the author

Mandy Brown is Director at LawSure Insurance. LawSure Insurance is a leading UK-wide, independent insurance broker specialising in legal indemnity, title insurance, and related covers.