Last updated: 01/09/2020 | Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
How do house keys affect home insurance?
Most of us know someone who has lost a set of house keys, and we know that it can be a real inconvenience at the best of times. Unfortunately, losing your keys can cost you much more than just the price of another set. If lost or spare keys are used as part of a break-in or theft at your home, your home insurance policy may be void.
This guide takes you through the basics of lost and spare keys, and the implications for your home insurance policy. Keep an eye out for plenty of tips to keep you and your home safe and insured.
In This Guide:
Losing your keys
Recent surveys have shown that nearly 40% of all UK homeowners admit to losing at least one set of keys, with many losing multiple pairs. The statistics are even more shocking when you consider the breakdown for different age groups, with almost 90% of young people aged between 18 and 24 reporting that either they, or someone they lived with, have lost sets of house keys. To put this into real numbers, if you consider that there are around 17.5 million occupied houses in the UK, almost 7 million homes have had sets of keys go missing.
All these keys going missing wouldn’t matter so much if people were constantly changing their locks. However, 31% of homeowners reported that they didn’t call a locksmith and get their locks changed following the loss of keys.
Beyond the short-term risk of compromising the safety of you and your home, there are far more serious risks in the long-term. With a rise in burglaries by criminals using spare keys, many home insurance policies will be affected depending on the state of your locks and keys. Losing your keys may cause your entire policy to be void. To avoid losing the benefit of your home insurance, you should always check your policy.
Checking your policy
If you are burgled by someone using a lost or spare key to your home, there is a chance that insurers will still look kindly on your case. However, you should never rely on this. A general rule laid out by the Association of British Insurers is that in the event of a burglary, there must always be signs of forced entry. This is particularly true in the case where money has been stolen. Unfortunately, if the criminal used a key to your house, your home insurance is likely to be void due to this rule, and you will not be able to make a claim on it or receive a pay-out. It should also note that the ABI has a pretty much blanket rule against giving pay-outs when the theft is committed by family members, partners or friends. This is seen as an act of deception rather than theft. This means you should be very careful about who you give spare keys to (see below).
Many insurance policies require as a minimum precaution that certain locks are fitted, and certain insurers will even offer you a discount if you install certain types. For more information, see our article ‘Best Types of Lock to Keep Your Home Secure’.
Pros and cons of having spare keys
Despite the risks of spare keys when looking at thefts and burglaries, there are still plenty of good reasons to keep spares around. You may need a back-up set if you lose yours and need to get back in while you wait to have your locks changed. Some people also like to give sets to family and close friends so that they can access your home in the event of an emergency. You may even just need to give it to your neighbour so they can feed the cat while you’re away!
Almost all of British homeowners have at least one spare, and over a third have two or more spare keys.
It may seem like it’s a good idea to print as many sets as possible, but you should always be careful in keeping track of your spare keys. It also helps to be very discerning about who you give them to. Make sure you completely trust anyone you’ve given a spare set to and try to pick people you are not likely to fall out with. If you do give them to the wrong person and this leads to a break-in or burglary, your home insurance is very likely to be void, as explained above.
Looking after your keys
Considering how much you stand to lose when you lose your house keys, here are some tips for looking after them.
You should be very cautious when it comes to hiding spare keys on your property. Studies have shown that 19% of men still leave a spare key under the doormat, along with 7% of women. Many more people also leave them ‘carefully concealed’ in plant pots or utility boxes. This may seem like a good idea for when you’re locked out, but you should think carefully considering what’s at stake.
A lot of people also give their children house keys. Whilst this is a necessity for the many parents that work outside school hours, you should always make sure you have had a discussion with your child about the importance of home safety and not giving other people access to your home.