Some of the major insurers, including More Th>n and Norwich Union, are raising the awareness of the increased risk of break-ins over the Christmas period and the need for consumers to check their home insurance contents policies. Despite the credit crunch most people will be increasing the valuables in their home over this period, not least because of all the presents being stored and received.
According to Norwich Union, New Year’s Eve is the worst night for domestic house break-ins.
Firstly, the normal value of your home’s contents needs to be carefully considered. A survey by Axa has found many people under insure the contents in their homes. They found that the average home’s contents are insured for less than the value people place on their home contents. This presents a problem before the value of Christmas presents etc are included.
It is important to ensure you have the correct level of home contents insurance cover, if you don’t then not only will you face a shortfall in the event of needing to claim to replace your contents but you could also invalidate your policy.
As well as thinking about the value of contents, you need to consider what is included within the insurance cover, for example, are outdoor lights? With the growing trend to decorate your house externally, as well as internally, this could well be an important requirement.
Whilst break-ins are clearly a risk, it is worth noting that AA Insurance are predicting that as we all feel the effects of the credit crunch so too will burglars. This is because the expectation is that the majority of us will be spending less on gifts and food and drink this year and more of us will be staying at home.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance said ‘Despite the cuts in VAT and inflation, it’s shaping up to be a somewhat more frugal Christmas this year. And although in times of economic downturn burglaries tend to increase, it seems that with fewer holidays being taken and less expensive possessions in the house, there could be fewer opportunities and incentives for thieves to strike.’
Here are some things to consider to help keep your house protected over the Christmas period
- don’t put presents on show and tempt burglars
- don’t make it obvious to burglars what new goodies or gifts you have – ensure packages thrown out cannot easily be identified. If need be take the packaging to a local recycling centre.
- keep car keys away from the front door to avoid the risk of thieves trying to ‘fish’ for them
- always lock windows and doors, even if you are only going to be away for a few minutes
- be aware of any suspicious or strange characters hanging around.
- leave some lights on and maybe some music or TV so that it seems at least someone is in
Finally, Christmas is also a time of increased fire risks. Aviva advise that whilst you are least likely to be burgled actually on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, Christmas Day sees a 140% increase in the number of home fire claims, the worst day of the year. Families need to be more aware of increased fire hazards from such as christmas tree lights and burning candles.
Having the right insurance can help relieve some of the pain after a fire. Taking steps to avoid one in the first place though is vital, as is minimising the impact should there be one e.g. ensuring smoke alarms are working and closing doors when going to bed.