Tagged: Home Insurance

Cheaper home insurance

Save Money on Insurance Premiums

Cheaper Home Insurance Premiums

Home insurance is a very competitive market and generally  in return for the value of the risk covered, most premiums offer very good value. There are however certain things that can be done to reduce premiums further.

Reduce Home Insurance

Obtaining a quote for your property will have been based on your unique set of circumstances. Making your circumstances more favourable to insurers will reduce their perception of the risk and any loads that have been put on your premium could be reduced or removed.

  1. Check your property meets modern security standards-
    Insurers base their premiums on the level of risk they feel they are covering. By conforming to modern security standards and making your home as safe and secure as possible insurers will usually discount their premium. It is important to ensure that all windows and doors have locks. External doors should have five-lever mortise deadlocks (British Standard BS3621) and all accessible windows should have key-operated windows locks. Fire alarms are essential in your home whether you insure your house or not. However insurers will often ask whether you have these and may incorporate this into the premium.
  2. Fit fire alarms and reduce fire associated risks-
    Fire alarms are essential for your own safety and can sometimes reduce your home insurance, remember however if you state you have them, you must remember to keep them in working order or this may invalidate your insurance if subjected to a claim.
  3. Have an alarm installed-
    Having a Burglar or intruder alarm, especially those that are NACOSS- approved will install great confidence with insurers and an area where you are likely to be able to reduce the premium by going above and beyond the minimum security requirements.
  4. Maintain trees close to the property-
    If you have trees or shrubs over several metres high within 3 metres of the property it will usually be an insurance requirement that these trees are maintained. Also always employ a qualified professional to remove or maintain trees and shrubs as accidents caused by maintenance are not often covered under standard policies.
  5. Install a safe for high-value items-
    If you have and list high value possessions such as jewellery on your insurance policy then it is usually worth having a safe installed. There are sometimes good discounts available for doing this and should pay for itself in time as well as provide that extra piece of mind for both you and your insurer.
  6. Join a neighbourhood watch-
    Becoming part of a neighbourhood watch can sometimes reduce the premium offered by an insurer although the discount for this will usually be very small if any. The real benefit of joining such a scheme is the knowledge and advice offered by such a committee which in turn may decrease the chances of you being burgled and thus less likely to claim (maintaining a no claims bonus).

Finding cheaper  House and Buildings Insurance

There are many insurance companies offering a number of different insurance products for house and buildings insurance. Below are a few tips that will help you to make savings which can affect premiums when choosing house insurance:

  1. You do not have to insure your property with your mortgage provider-
    It is not a legal requirement to have buildings insurance but mortgage lenders will often require it to be in place when you can take out a mortgage. They may offer you their own insurance policy so you can tie it neatly in with the mortgage seamlessly. However it is worth looking around as you may find other competitors to be far cheaper and offer a more comprehensive product.
  2. Compare the amount of excess applicable to the policy (the first amount you pay of any claim)
    Most insurance policies have a standard excess rate to deter policy holders from making claims for small items or incidents that are although covered under the policy and therefore claimable, are not really what the policy is intended for. The rate of excess an insurer requires can vary and when comparing what different policies have to offer, the excess rate is something that should be looked at. Some insurers offer low competitive annual rates for their product but they may set their standard excesses considerably high as well ! The excess can also vary depending on what a potential claim is related to, for example excess for subsidence is usually higher than for the standard excess for the rest of the policy. It’s always worth looking at the ‘small print’ when comparing insurer policies.
  3. Increase voluntary excess-
    You can make savings by increasing your excess voluntarily, most insurers give you this option and in return discount your premium. Note though that voluntary excesses are in addition to the insurer’s standard excess. So when you want to make a claim the total excess will be standard and voluntary excess added together.
  4. Combine buildings and contents-
    Insurers normally offer discount when you combine insurance cover together such as buildings with contents and also more convenient having a combined renewal date on a single policy. It is worth however, getting a quote for both insurance types together and separately as different insurers assess the risk differently and set their premiums accordingly.
  5. Insure only at the level needed-
    The key to finding the right insurance is to know exactly what you want to insure, the cover required and correct level to insure at. Many insurers can be quite flexible with their policies so it is to your advantage to know what values you want covered without estimating. This avoids paying higher premiums than necessary which on a year-on-year basis can soon add up.
  6. Give yourself time to look around for cover when choosing which house insurance-
    The insurance market is hugely competitive and each insurer will offer different benefits and premiums for their product. Look at your insurance needs as early as possible and if possible give yourself time to assess what insurers have to offer. It is important to not instantly go for the cheapest quote before assessing the quality of the policy they are offering. If possible ask for the associated policy wording and look at the ‘small print’. What will they cover you for?, what will they not cover you for?, what are the limitations and excesses for the cover? The cheapest cover isn’t necessarily the best value and important areas of cover are sometimes stripped down or removed completely to offer the premiums derived at. At the same time the most expensive premium quotes don’t necessarily offer the most comprehensive cover for your needs, look around and make sure the insurance quote you finalise offers you the best all round value whilst still covering all your specific needs. Although comparison websites profess to do the looking around for you, some insurers are not represented here, they offer cheaper quotations if you go to them directly, as they do not have to pay the comparison web sites for the introductions. Also, do not forget that your local high street insurance brokers are still there and offer good and personal service and can be cheaper than buying policies on line.
  7. Pay the premium in full-
    This is often cheaper than paying by direct debit on a monthly basis so it is often worth finding out the details of a direct debit alternative.

Contents Insurance

Living area with contents that should be insured
Contents Insurance

Home Contents Insurance

Contents is defined in insurance terms as household goods and personal property, within the home, which are your property or which you are legally liable for.

Unlike building insurance however, contents is always optional as no other party such a bank or lender will have an invested interest. In most cases it is normal to have house and contents insurance combined but if you own a flat and you share your buildings insurance with other residents known as block insurance it is usually recommended to have a separate ‘contents only’ insurance policy.

What items are included in contents insurance

Household goods and personal property classed as insurable are usually items that you would take with you when you move property.

Standard items such as:

  • Televisions, computers, cameras and other electricals,
  • household appliances,
  • beds, sofas and other furniture,
  • clothes and jewellery,
  • pots, pans crockery and cutlery,
  • Ornaments and toys.

Where possible, keeping receipts for items will help prove ownership,  including their brand and model numbers should the need for a claim arise (this can of course prove difficult in the case of a fire).

Although items such as jewellery are for the most part considered standard, insurers will often cap the value paid out for these items in a claim. If you own high value items such as jewellery, paintings and antiques, it is worth informing the insurer of these, some insurers may request that items over a certain valuation be specified and will be noted on the insurance policy itself. The value of these high value specified items can factor into the cost of your insurance premium and if  it may be possible to find alternative specialised insurance for that item such as a jewellery insurance policy.

There may be limits placed on contents stored in the open such as the garden area or in outbuildings, where they are not considered as secure as the main property.

Other items that may be offered in addition to standard contents, include domestic pedal cycles, freezer contents, office equipment and cover of possessions for members of the family whilst at University/ college up to a specified value.

Assessing the contents sum insured
When people think about how much contents insurance they are likely to need, they usually come up with a set figure that is more of a rough guess than a good estimate, often because when we assess our contents to determine its value we think of a few key items that are either more important or personal such as a computer, television or pieces of jewellery. They may then think about the cost of replacing domestic appliances such as the washing machine or fridge freezer or the larger items in the house such as the sofa. However, when looking at insurance it is important to think about the worst case scenario. With contents this may be in the event of a fire or flood where all your contents and personal possessions had to be replaced. It may be surprising at how much this would actually cost, not only would you have to replace jewellery, clothes or home electricals but also all your kitchenware including pots and pans, cutlery and crockery, curtains, linen, food, books, dvds and sometimes carpets (varies on insurer and policy type as to whether carpets are listed under buildings or contents insurance). There is a risk of underinsurance, where the values for contents sums insured doesn’t meet the true cost of replacing goods and we have written a good article on Overinsurance and Underinsurance.

What is contents covered against

As standard a contents insurance policy will insure you against:

  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Theft

These are just standard perils but most insurers will include much more as standard in their policies, such as storm damage, subsidence, landslip or heave, falling trees, riots, violent disorder and malicious damage.

The values of the contents sum insured may also be index linked each year so the value of the sum insured increases. This is designed to protect you against rates of inflation so should a claim arise you are not underinsured when items are replaced on a like for like basis.

Getting insurance for contents

Contents can either be insured on its own but is usually cheaper when combined with buildings insurance and accidental damage is normally an optional extra should you require it. If you rent a property you will only require contents insurance as the building will already be insured by the landlord or property management agency. Alternatively if you are a landlord you can get contents insurance for communal areas providing you own the contents you wish to insure.

If you would like a quote for contents then Highhouse will be happy to provide you with a quote, we have our own binder for both home and let property insurance underwritten by the highest rated insurers and can normally have you insured and your documents over to you the same day should you require it.

Valuing Freehold Interest

Valuing Freehold Interest
Freehold Interest on Valuations

At Highhouse Insurance we are often asked to quote for Buildings Insurance in respect of property that has been divided in to self-contained flats, either purpose built or converted property. One of biggest areas of confusion relating to this type of cover surrounds who is who is actually responsible for the insurance; is it the freeholder or is it the leaseholder. Generally speaking in most cases, the freeholder is responsible for the buildings insurance and will charge the leaseholders accordingly. In some cases it may be possible for us to provide cover for leaseholders and we are always willing to listen to situations where for whatever reason, the freeholder has not arranged insurance cover.

Many leaseholders chose to buy the freehold of their property to give them control over the building they own, this will then give them the right to make decisions and to manage the property as they feel fit.

If you are contemplating purchasing the freehold of the block of flats that you live in, it will be necessary to get a valuation from a local qualified surveyor before you enter into any negotiations. A surveyor will be able to complete a valuation according to the current legislation; will advise on purchase price and the offer that ought to be made to the freeholder in the Initial Notice and the freeholders response in the Counter Notice. He/She will also carry out negotiations on your behalf with the freeholder, give advice and provide evidence at a leasehold valuation tribunal as well as giving advice regarding repairs and maintenance of the property once the enfranchisement has been completed.

At the first meeting with the surveyor the valuation process should be discussed. According to Schedule 6 Part II of the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 the price of the freehold should include the income received from the ground rents within the building, the increase in the sale value of the flats due to the freehold being obtained (this is called the reversion value), the marriage value (this is the increase in flat values minus ground rents and the reversion value), the value of other interests e.g. garages and commercial properties, and compensation for losses to the freeholder for the reduction in value of another property resulting from a forced sale (injurious affection).

Freehold property with a long lease is valued on an investment basis, meaning that the property has no other value except for the income from the rent and the reversionary value once the leases have run out. The freehold value is worked out according to the expected future income of the property.

The income received is easily worked out. The annual ground rent is multiplied by the number of flats in the block. This amount is then multiplied by the ‘years purchase’. The ‘years purchase’ may either be taken from a set of tables or the valuer may calculate this for himself/herself. It is done to ascertain what the investor would have to pay to get the same fixed income over the term of the lease. There are often discrepancies to be looked at as the leaseholder’s valuer and the landlord’s valuer will often come up with different amounts for the years purchase figure.

As the lease on a leasehold property gets shorter the value of that property decreases. If enfranchisement is achieved then the new owner will usually increase the time on the leases. The values of the flats within the building are, consequently, increased. The valuer will need to consider other properties in the vicinity to estimate how much the value will increase. Flat leases usually revert back to the landlord once the term of the lease has expired. However, it is most likely that the tenant will be able to remain in occupation as there is statutory protection to ensure the tenant still has somewhere to live.

The marriage value involves both parties and is worked out quite easily. The value of the property with renewed leases is the base figure and from this the current value of the properties are deducted. Then the ground rent and the reversionary value are also deducted leaving the ‘marriage value’. This amount is split equally between the two parties. Legislation states that if a participating leaseholder has an unexpired lease of in excess of 80 years then any marriage value will be irrelevant.

In cases where negotiations do not run smoothly it may be necessary to enter more formal arrangements to bring matters to a satisfactory conclusion. The Leaseholders Valuation Tribunal is of help when trying to decide on matters like the sort of interest to be applied and the price to be paid.

There is a myriad amount of information relating to the value of freeholds available on the internet we believe if you are contemplating the purchase of your freehold, you should always seek professional advise.

Highhouse Insurance will be pleased to quote for buildings insurance for all types of blocks of flats whether owner occupied or rented to tenants.

We look forward to receiving your enquiry.

Home Insurance FAQ’s

Frequently Asked Questions

Every now and then we get asked questions that we feel should be answered but aren’t covered in our home guides. Since closing our forums we have moved the best questions into this section.

Q) Can I use my Homeowners Insurance on a theft from my car while it was parked at home?

A) There is cover for personal effects under the motor insurers for a small amount, however, depending on what has been stolen from the vehicle, will be dependent on the cover provided by the home insurer. For example the theft of a laptop from an unattended vehicle is not normally covered.

Q) Do you have to have a survey of your home to get homeowners insurance?

A) No having a survey is not a requirement, however, the survey may be helpful to establish the rebuilding costs of the property for insurance purposes.

Q) How often should I inspect the home for insurance purposes?

A) All homes should be checked at least once every 14 days if the property is unoccupied and a detailed itenery of visits maintained. There may be other cover restrictions that could apply and as such you should always refer to your policy.

Q) Are Home Foundation Repairs Covered by Home Insurance?

A) The repairs to foundations are included as a result of the insurable perils under the policy, such as Landslip/heave and subsidence. But not as a result of faulty workmanship.

Flat Roof Home Insurance

Picture of a flat roof either being laid or repaired
Flat roofs and getting insurance

Flat Roof Home Insurance

Of all the features of a building that insurers deem to be of non-standard construction, by far the most ubiquitous is the flat roof, commonly seen on home building extensions the length and breadth of the country. Flat roofs form typically up to 25% of a roof area although some can be a lot higher, they are normally horizontal with a low pitch to help with drainage, a roof that is entirely flat may have a problem with water pooling which can lead to damage.
Flat Roofs have been in existence for hundreds of years all over the world including our own but it wasn’t until the 1950s with the introduction of the mineral felt covering that their usage became more prevalent.

Types of Flat Roof

Flats roofs are traditionally covered with either: Felt, Asphalt, Concrete, Fibreglass or Metal. In recent years, mainly in an attempt to improve their lifespan, materials which employ the use of plastics and rubber have been introduced. It is now also possible to buy various chemical treatments to help ensure water tightness.

Why is flat roof home insurance harder to obtain?

In simple terms, they have a tendency to leak, especially ones that have not being either correctly laid or maintained.

The majority of flat roofs in the United Kingdom are made of felt laid down on timber battens. This is a simple method of roofing, initially decking is laid down on the battens with the addition of a top layer of felt. If your roofing contractor knows his stuff, then three layers of felt should be added. The felt employed is pre-made and laid in strips, this type of covering is often confused with asphalt, which is laid on hot “hot roofing” and then covered with stones or chippings as an extra layer of protection. Flat felt roof covering will have a maximum life of between 10-15 years, possibly longer if it is coated with modern sealants.

A good deal of flat roofs are older than this and also unmaintained, building insurance companies know that these often have a propensity to leak causing damage to both buildings and contents. As well as problems with water ingress, a good deal of damage is caused by wind, getting in under the felt and causing it to lift. Cracking can be caused by exposure to the sun especially on roofs that face south although this damage can be minimised by a good covering of shingle.

For these reasons when buying building insurance, you will probably encounter a question asking;

  1. How much percentage of your roof is flat
  2. How old is the roof?
  3. When was the last time it was maintained?

At Highhouse insurance we are happy to offer insurance for buildings with flat roofs of varying sizes and we simply apply the following to our policy;

Flat and Felt Roof Clause

In respect of Section 1 – Buildings, (insured event 3) ‘Storm, flood or weight of snow’ – under ‘what is not covered’:

• the first £250 of every claim for loss or damage to flat & felt roofed areas of the buildings.
• flat and felt roofs which have not been recovered within the last 12 years.
• loss or damage arising as a result of water leaking through your flat & felt roof, unless the loss or damage is caused by an insured event

This is our normal clause, but clauses dealing with flat roofs can vary from insurer to insurer, some will require you to carry out regular maintenance checks and to have such checks recorded and any required remedial work carried out. Wherever you obtain your building insurance, always make sure you fully understand any terms or conditions, especially those relating to maintenance and upkeep. Regardless of insurance requirements, we recommend that you should have any flat roof area of your property checked by a builder or roofer at least every two years to ensure that they remain watertight. Any damage should be repaired and a builder will also make sure that the roof is still draining properly. Depending on your own ability, there are certain maintenance tasks you can carry out yourself. If the roof is quite low in height, say over a ground floor extension, once a year you can check that all guttering is free of leaves and detritus.

Obtaining Insurance

When proposing for building insurance, it’s important to have an accurate knowledge of the size of your flat roof, don’t guess at it, you will probably find a description within any survey documents that have been prepared for your property. Insurers treat flat roofs differently depending on their size and sometimes an alteration of a few percent can make the difference between a risk being acceptable or not. At Highhouse insurance we have extensive experience of dealing with insurance for flat roofs of all descriptions, we issue our own insurance polices “in house” noting lenders interests if required and we can have you on cover, with the documents over to you, lender or solicitor, in most cases on the same day.

If you require home insurance or advice for properties with flat roofs then give Highouse Insurance Services a call or simply fill in our quick contact form and we will call back- We look forward to receiving your enquiry.

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Getting flood insurance in flood risk areas

In future insuring a home in flood risk area could be more difficult
Home Insurance in flood risk area can be more difficult to insure.

Flood Insurance

Adequate flood insurance cover for a property can help reduce the financial consequences, stress and trauma that flooding can bring. Insurance industry data indicates that households at high flood risk pay around £340 on average for buildings and contents insurance (ABI 2011). This compares with between £20 – £30,000 for the average cost of damages after flooding.

There is currently an agreement between the Government and the insurance industry, called the Statement of Principles that obliges insurance companies to offer flood cover as part of standard policies in most cases. The agreement does not guarantee cover for some properties e.g. those that continue to have a significant risk of flooding and in all cases does not affect the price of insurance which remains a commercial decision for insurers. The existing agreement is due to expire on 30 June 2013.

After 30th June 2013 it is unlikely that these agreements will be maintained meaning that 1000’s of homes will be left to the mercy of the Insurers and their understanding.

Due to the fact that most insurers have limited data to a particular post code area, this could mean that properties that clearly are not in danger of flooding are ‘tarred with the same brush’ making them, to most Insurers, uninsurable.

This is a major problem for Home and property owners in these areas and could lead to properties being deemed as Uninsurable.
Highhouse Insurance Services Limited has access to data that is even more detailed than that of the Environment Agency and is able to assess the potential risk of surface and other flooding down to a 5 Meter Square grid.

We have tested this data over the past 12 months and this is proving to be a ‘Lifeline’ to people that would have potentially been trapped in the trap of not being able to afford or even get quotations from insurers for their properties.

As such, we are able to offer flood insurance for properties that have been declined due to potential risk of flooding by other Insurers working without this data and now released under the agreement that is in place to the 30th June 2013.

At Highhouse we issue our own polices “in house”  for property insurance, underwritten by Lloyds of London, noting lenders interests if required and we can have you on cover, with the documents over to you, your solicitor or lender, in most cases on the same day. If you require a quote, please call our office on 01243 606552 or simply complete our online form for property insurance.

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Outbuilding and Shed Insurance Cover

Outbuilding and shed insurance cover
Outbuilding and shed insurance cover

These days most properties contain buildings that are external to the main building whether it’s a wood cabin, garage, greenhouse, Breeze House or just a garden shed. Factors such as the costs involved with moving have led to trends in people deciding to utilise their existing property and the space around it by building extensions or adding buildings such as log cabins to the surrounding ground. Outbuilding and shed insurance cover will usually be as standard on home policies but it is worth checking with insurers that this is the case.

Buildings that are not of standard construction are not normally covered under standard insurance policies….
When taking out a quote for home insurance, if you ask about insurance cover for such buildings they may make an exception providing full details are declared at the time and noted in your statement of insurance. For example thatched cottages and listed buildings sometimes have out buildings that are built with the same materials as the main property and some insurers are ok with this especially if the policy is designed for such circumstances such as thatched or listed building policies.

Contents in sheds and outbuildings
Most insurance policies have a standard level of cover for content that is either out in the open or stored in sheds and other out buildings up to a fixed amount which will vary from insurer to insurer.
Accidental damage does not normally extend to contents within garages and outbuildings but this is subjective to each insurer and is worth enquiring about with your insurer or if you are requiring a quote.

Flat roofs on out buildings
Insurers usually like to know if any part of the property contains a flat roof and what percentage of the overall property this represents, this extends to outbuilding and Shed Insurance Cover for garages, extensions and other out buildings. Flat roofs should be maintained more frequently than standard roofs, usually 10-12 years and is required under many standard insurance endorsements.
However advances in roofing materials means that some specialist roofing companies now offer their own insurance backed guarantees of longer periods which is more like 20 years or more and a quick internet search will help you find them if interested.

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Burglary prevention at Christmas

The build up to Christmas can be both exciting and stressful but imagine coming home one day and finding your property broken into and all the gifts you have bought or received gone.
The festive period is a prime time for burglars with properties being stocked with new unopened items of high value that are easier to sell on in their new and boxed condition, it is also a time when more people leave their homes unattended than usual to go on Christmas parties or to visit friends and relatives.
Opportunist thieves don’t need much to feel presented with a chance to steal and the season of goodwill can also be a time where people are more relaxed and don’t take the same security measures they may take when they go on holiday.

Most insurance policies will have an automatic uplift for contents of 10% for the Christmas period (we do here at Highhouse Insurance), if this is not the case, please ensure that your contents insurance is sufficient for your requirements. If they are not, then ensure that you contact your insurance to increase the sum insured as necessary.

Burglary prevention at Christmas

We have put together is a brief guide on various measures and general advice to help prevent your property from becoming a target.

Don’t leave gifts on display
Nothing feels more like Christmas than looking at a nicely decorated tree full of presents underneath. However having gifts on show, particularly in view from a window is also attractive to thieves. If possible hide all gifts until the day of opening and be equally stringent after they have been open. If you are going out or going away don’t leave them on show.

Festive outdoor lighting
Outdoor Christmas lights can act as a deterrent like any other outdoor lighting but can pose a potential risk if they are mains operated and need to be plugged in through a window. When possible buy lights where not only the lights are suitable for outdoor use but also the transformer or plug, then connect to an outdoor mains. Alternatively there are a large range of battery or solar outdoor lights available and have come on leaps and bounds since their first generation attempts.

Don’t publicly display any packaging
Councils these days are much tighter on rubbish and recyclable waste and some don’t allow you to put rubbish out beyond what will fit in the plastic bins or bags provided so the visibility of rubbish and recyclable goods isn’t as generally noticeable these days. However just after Christmas they generally are more relaxed and bins are overflowing, be careful not to display packaging, only put extra bags or boxes out on the day of collection or night before and when possible take what you can to a recycling centre. Don’t give potential thieves an idea of what they might find in your house.

The Christmas tree looks lovely by the window
A classic place for a beautifully lit Christmas tree is by a window with the curtains or blinds open so it can be visible to passers by and while I don’t want to destroy the spirit of Christmas it is also worth pointing out that not only the tree may be visible especially in the evening when the room is fully lit and the curtains aren’t drawn. The tree will also succeed in grabbing the attention of almost anyone that passes by so be careful in what else is visible should you decide to place it by a window especially when you are out.

Take basic home security measures.
This may appear in every article to do with home security but ensuring you have minimum securities in place where possible can never be understated. A third of burglars enter a property through a window so all ground floor and accessible windows should have key operated security locks which are kept shut and locked when the property is left empty.
Two thirds of burglars enter a property through a door so it is important to do what you can to make them as secure as possible. The minimum security standard for most home insurance requirements is having 5 Lever Mortice Deadlocks but additional security measures include fitting mortise bolts to the tops and bottoms of doors, fitting chains or bars and if the door has a window or glass panels then these can be replaced with either laminated glass or a special film over the existing glass which does a similar job.

Ensure all outbuildings and sheds are locked securely and that no ladders, steps, or outdoor seating that can be easily moved is readily accessible to aid thieves

Don’t leave spare keys in obvious places such as under a doormat, nearby plant pot, loose brick or rock, under the tyre of a second car and so on. Leave with either a trusted neighbour or friend and don’t leave any keys indoors in bowls, hanging up or visible from an external viewpoint such as through a letterbox.

Motion Sensor lighting and spotlights are very good for lighting areas of your property that would have very little lighting otherwise and can act as a great deterrent to potential burglars. Most have adjustable detection ranges so you can change them to only switch on when someone comes on your boundary and not just walks past.

Be wary of the pitfalls to using social media
We posted an article a few weeks back on thieves using social media sites to target victims, by using information they have made public such as being away on holiday leaving their property vacant. Christmas is no different and people should be wary of posting information when they are visiting friends and family especially when they share their location whilst posting, its best to do this post dated after you have returned home. It is also not a good idea to go showing off all the new presents you have on social media and keep an eye on what information your children are sharing.

Should you require home insurance or any other type of property insurance today or at some point in the future and would like a free quote then please feel free to contact us by either selecting the appropriate insurance or calling us directly on 01243 606552.

Home security guide, city of London police, HSL02- produced by the Home Office Communication Directorate, January 2004

Home insurance cover and liability related to dogs

Home insurance cover and liability related to dogs
Liability related to dogs

Fine weather is here at last and I find that enjoying a long walk with my dogs is ideal at this time of year, not too hot for them nor for me. Whilst walking the other day, I was asked about home insurance cover and liability related to dogs! So as many of you may have dogs, This may be of interest.

Under the Home Insurance Contents section of most insurance policies, the chewing, fouling and damage caused by pets to contents is specifically excluded. So do be careful leaving your pets in areas where a large wagging tail could do damage!

The other aspect is what would happen if my dog caused an accident or bite someone! Well this is a very in depth subject, but the general rule is if your dog is under control (on a lead generally) and is in the custody of an insured person, the Liability to the Public section of a standard Home Contents cover will cover you for any damage or injury caused, as long as you can show that the incident was a single isolated incident and that the dog was under reasonable control at the time. Having a dog off the lead, does not in itself constitute the dog being ‘not under control’!

The general cover under this section of the policy is normally limited to between £1,000,000 and £5,000,000.

The Holiday period has started, and those that have come to join us for the summer period, a warm welcome back to you. Please also remember that those that leave their permanent homes for a period of greater than 30 days in one time should check their Home policies to ensure that they abide to the ‘Unoccupancy Clauses’ in their policies and that they tell their Insurers if they exceed the limitations of the policy. The Insurers are totally within their rights to not honour a claim for these extended periods.

To our Business Partners: It is important that you have the insurance cover in place in case you do cause damage or an accident whilst working. This is called Public Liability insurance, and can be purchased for as little as £10 a month for a £1m cover. You can see that this is a little to pay for that amount of cover and for peace of mind.

For a non biased guide to home insurance, including advice on buildings insurance, contents insurance and tips on reducing your premium read our House Insurance Guide section.

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Burglars use social media to target homes

These days social media platforms such as facebook and twitter have become ever popular and many people now see them as an extension of themselves to chat with friends, share views, sell their unwanted items, advertise events or businesses and make new friends.
This social revolution has not only changed the way we interact with one another but also how we share information about ourselves. There are plenty of positives to be gained by doing this like meeting up with long lost friends, finding out about local events and who is attending or just meeting people that have similar interests.

Burglars use social media to target homes

There are however some dangers to the use of social media and users can be left vulnerable without realising it. Social media has opened the doors for people to tell the world about themselves, who they are, what they like and what they are doing. There are many people who enjoy reading and sharing this information for honest reasons but there are also a few out there who use social media as a resource for gathering personal information with the intentions of criminal acts.
People love to write about what they are doing, where they are going and in particular when they are away on vacations. I often get face book posts from friends on holiday showing off a picture with them and their family enjoying themselves in some resort, somewhere hot and sunny whilst the rain hammers down in England.
Social media has however gained the interest from thieves and now burglars use social media to target homes. They  use the information to target people by following posts to find out where they live, when they are on holiday and how long they are away for. Many users on facebook accept friend requests from people they have never met and allow them to read their non public posts. Options in facebook, twitter and google+ allow users to share their location whenever they post something and because they can be posted in almost real time, thief’s know when and where they are at anyone point in time.
Web mapping services such as google maps can provide additional information to thieves and help provide a blue print on properties to plan ahead.

Take Action

When sharing personal information it is important to be careful on what information you share and with whom. Be careful who you allow as a friend and / or what information you post about yourself online. If you go on holiday and wish to share photos or keep an online diary of your travels it is advisable not to post this real time or even better wait till you return home before you share it. Many mobile devices now carry location services so be sure to switch them off as well and ensure that your children take the same precautions because their online activities are equally attractive to thieves.
Of course thieves aren’t just looking for opportunities when people are away on holiday but rather simply just when they are away from the property, vacations are ideal because the whole household tend to go away but with every member of a household now connecting to facebook and these accounts naturally all being connected through ‘friends’ its possible to build up an idea of the activity for that property through details and posts such as where and when they work or regular day to day activities. The more information about themselves a person posts the clearer the picture about them and those around them becomes, for example dad is a travel rep, mum works as a secretary for a local solicitors (or the other way round) and the kids are at school and then picked up afterwards by gran and then collected by mum or dad after work, Monday to Friday. Comments and posts however small and insignificant over a historical timeline and across connected accounts can be used collectively to determine personal activities of a household the same way a points card used by supermarkets collects details on peoples buying habits.
Platforms like face book have become very popular quickly and revolutionised the way we interact not just with other people but with technology itself. As social media and technology integrates and evolves with new services and opportunities to share information it is important to remain astute and be aware of the potential pitfalls because professional thieves can be savvy and don’t need much to see an opportunity.
There are of course other measures you can do outside of social media to help prevent opportunist thieves from detecting when your house is vacant, here is a brief dos and don’ts for when you are away:

• Don’t broadcast your holiday, as much as you want may want to tell the world of your much needed break the same advice applies just as on social media, the less people know the better.
• Get a house sitter or ask a trusted friend or neighbour to regularly check on the property. If they are able to share their rubbish with your bins and put them in and out on collections days. Turn lights on and off in the evenings and the telly or radio, whilst shutting the curtains. This is of course subjective to what they would be willing to do but if you offer the same service in return then the old saying ‘what are neighbours for’ gains a bit more value!
• Cancel newspapers and redirect mail if possible. If people can visibly see mail and newspapers mounting up then this is a good indication the house hasn’t been vacant for a while. If you have a trusted neighbour or friend who checks on the property while you are away then have them collect the post and move it to a different part of the property, that again isn’t on view- unopened letters and a stack of newspapers on a table is just as evident. Also it is better to cancel newspapers than to put your deliveries on hold.
• Use timers on lamps in the house that switch on and off in the evenings and that are visibly on through windows.
• If you have a drive way then keep a vehicle on there, if not then ask if a trusted neighbour would be willing to park their vehicle there.

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