However globetrotting Brits should be aware the small print varies between providers, with some insurers only providing existing cover for unoccupied homes for a maximum of 30 days, while others will cover your home for up to 60 days. In addition consumers shouldn’t assume buying a more expensive home insurance policy will guarantee longer cover3.
Julie Owens, head of home insurance at moneysupermarket.com, said: "With the excitement of planning an extended holiday or gap year, it can be easy to forget about what you’re leaving behind. Homeowners could return home to an unwelcome surprise if they don’t take into account their insurer’s policy on unoccupied homes. Providers are very strict on how long a home can be left unoccupied for, and it is therefore vital you inform your insurer if you plan to be away for longer than the stated length of time as this may invalidate your policy.
"Some insurers may not cover you for a prolonged stay away from home, however most will increase your monthly premiums on a case by case basis for the duration of the trip so speaking to your insurer early is essential to avoid unexpected costs. They may even ask you to place all items of value into storage. In addition, if you are planning to leave your home unoccupied, whether for a short trip or a round the world adventure, you should always take precautions such as putting lights on a timer, and drawing curtains and blinds to reduce the risk of burglary or damage to your home."
moneysupermarket.com’s top tips to keep your home safe while unoccupied:
– Keep all items of value away from windows and out of sight from opportunistic thieves
– Ensure you lock all windows and doors before leaving the house
– Regularly check the state of your locks, and where necessary replace older, weaker ones with new locks. Five-lever mortise locks are recommended for external doors while windows should ideally have two bolt locks
– Don’t leave high value items lying around the house, lock them away safely, and consider putting them in storage
Install a good home security system
– When leaving the house for a lengthy period of time, put a timer on your light switches to give the impression that you are at home
– If you are away, remember to cancel newspaper and milk deliveries and ask someone you can trust to open and close the curtains and collect mail
– Don’t leave keys in obvious places such as under a doormat. Also beware of ‘hook n crook’ thefts – where keys are left so close to a door that a burglar can simply hook them through a letterbox and open the door
Install security lighting – illuminate your visitors for their safety as well as your own. Unwelcome visitors are less likely to loiter if they’re ‘in the spotlight’
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