Are your home and contents properly insured for Christmas?

Father Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, now is a good time to check that your home and its contents are properly covered by your home insurance policy. Christmas gifts can push up the value of your home's contents by thousands of pounds so a make sure they are covered by your policy.

Would be thieves are well aware that there are rich pickings around this time of year and homes are often left unattended as people visit relatives and attend social events.

“The latest must-have TVs, DVD recorders and digital cameras can add thousands of pounds onto the contents value of your home. If you don’t take the necessary steps to make sure you have protection for these goods, it could be a very unhappy New Year indeed,” says Richard Mason, director of insurance at moneysupermarket.com.

Luckily, many home insurers offer free top up periods to protect policy holders over the festive period. For example, AA will increase contents cover by 20 per cent from December 1 to January 6 free of charge, while Marks & Spencer already has unlimited cover.

Other providers such as Sainsbury’s, Budget and Egg will boost contents cover by 10 per cent for items bought for Christmas. However, many insurers do not offer these free top ups so you need to make sure that you are fully covered for Christmas and beyond.

Also remember that some expensive items may need to be listed individually on the policy, as insurers often impose a single item limit of £1,000 or £2,000. Possessions away from the home also need attention so you should ensure laptops, mp3 players or similar items are covered when taken out.

Richard Mason added: “The importance of increasing your cover due to a Christmas bonanza cannot be underestimated. A quick phone call to your insurer could save you a great deal of time and money in the long run. It also pays to make sure your provider is still offering the best deal available on the new level of cover.”

When doing this, you should also check that the value of your home itself is still adequately covered by your insurance policy. Many people overlook the fact that insurance cover needs to be increased as the value of their home increases, whether it is as a result of house price inflation or home improvements.

With National Maintenance Week in full swing this week, thousands of home owners are being encouraged to carry out repairs and improvements to their properties. If you carry out any major work that increases the value of your home, make sure this is reflected in your insurance cover.

In fact, you should tell your insurer if you are making any significant changes to your home, even before you begin carrying out the work. Recent research has shown that two in three people are not aware that their insurance company may require notification prior to starting any major construction work, which could impose limitations to their cover whilst the work is being completed.

While some smaller jobs will typically be covered as part of the existing cover plan, larger work such as loft conversions or small extensions will most likely require specialist small-level insurance to ensure a home is protected.

“Britain's love of DIY can spell disaster for some home owners if they neglect to tell their insurers of the changes they have made. Whether it's knocking down a wall, adding an extension or simply replacing the windows, you could end up out of pocket if you press ahead with the work before informing your insurer,” says James Caldwell, director of Fair Investment Company.

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