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There’s so much to think about when taking out building and contents insurance to protect your home. That’s why it’s important to be open and honest with your insurer. Even when you think you’ve got all bases covered and you’ve worked out the right value of your contents, you can invalidate your policy with a few simple mistakes.

The last thing you want in an emergency is to have your claim denied just because you forgot to contact your insurer and inform them of a few minor changes or because you left the house without locking the doors or windows. In fact, research from the Association of British Insurance (ABI) shows that four in five claims are successful, with an average pay-out of £2,500. This is a lot of money to miss out on just because you made a simple error.

Get the right cover

First things first – when you take out cover, always read the terms and conditions to see how much protection you’ll have. Avoid cutting corners by taking out a cheaper policy and get the cover you really need.

You’ll also need to get the right amount of cover – this will depend on how much stuff you’ve got. Start by listing everything in every room. Include furniture, electrical goods and clothes. You’ll usually have to give details of any expensive valuables like jewellery, antiques, or other high-value items. If you want to protect certain items for when you’re out and about like jewellery or gadgets, you can get extra or separate cover entirely.

If you rent with others

Even if you’re living in a shared or rented house, take out contents insurance to protect your possessions. Your insurer might need you to have a lock on your room as part of the terms and conditions, so get one fitted. If you’ve moved into a new property and were handed all the keys, don’t assume that there aren’t any other copies. People selling or renting out a property often keys they’ve given to friends or family members. You should also not leave any spare keys in a place that could encourage thieves to enter your property – under the doormat, for example.

Change the locks if you’ve just moved in and keep your spare keys out of sight in a very safe place. If you don’t, you could miss out on a genuine claim if burglars let themselves in with your keys – this could be seen as non-forced entry.

Keep it locked

If you go out and don’t close the doors or windows or set your alarm and someone does break in, the insurer might not pay out. They might see this as irresponsible behaviour and that you’re encouraging thieves to enter your property, so always lock up!

Get the details right

Even when you’ve locked your doors, it’s important to know what locks you have. It might sound technical but insurers prefer you to have a ‘five lever mortice lock’. When you take out a policy, describe exactly what locks and other security features you have fitted. Be specific, because if they assess a claim and notice that your details don’t match up, you can risk losing out on a claim.

Update details

That’s why it’s really important to update your details when anything changes. This includes changes to your home like new locks, home improvements, new items you’ve bought – these can all affect the price of your premium. If you don’t update them, the cover you have isn’t accurate or meeting your needs. Always update your details and keep your insurers informed.

Looking for a home insurance quote? We’ll scour the country’s leading insurers to find the right policy for your needs. Whether you want contents or buildings cover, policies start from £12 a month.

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