What can invalidate my home insurance?
If you aren’t careful, you may end up invalidating your home insurance policy without realising it. As always, it’s best to read the wording of your insurance policy document thoroughly so you know all the terms, conditions, and exclusions that apply to your policy before you ever need to make a claim.
In this guide we’ll be running you through the steps you can take to make sure you don’t accidentally invalidate your home insurance, as well as some common questions and situations that can arise.
In this guide:
- How to avoid invalidating your home insurance
- Does leaving my house unoccupied invalidate my insurance?
- Can I make a claim if I damage my home during a DIY attempt?
- Do I have a responsibility to repair my home?
- Will I need to inform my insurer of renovations to my home?
- Am I covered against pest damage?
- Do I need to tell my insurer if I rent a room out?
Here are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t unwittingly end up invalidating your home insurance cover by doing something that your insurer isn’t happy with.
- Read the terms and conditions of your home insurance policy thoroughly so you’re familiar with all the exclusions within your policy. You can call your insurance company to clarify anything that you aren’t sure about.
- Be sure to secure your home every time you leave it. Make sure all doors and windows are closed and locked and burglar alarm is activated.
- Make sure your spare key is secure. You will most likely invalidate your insurance if you leave your spare key in an obvious location and a thief uses it to gain entry into your home.
- Report burglaries as soon as they happen. You will need a crime reference number from the police, so get this within 24 hours.
- Lock away any valuables that may be in your garden (like ornaments or barbecues) in a shed if possible.
- Always be truthful with your insurer - lying to get a cheaper home insurance premium, as well as exaggerating losses, can both lead to invalidation or worse.
Houses left empty are seen as a greater insurance risk. This is because they are more susceptible to being burgled or damage as a result of bad weather.
Generally speaking, you won’t be able to leave your home unoccupied for longer than 30 days consecutively without invalidating your insurance cover - and thus not be able to make a claim.
However, there is some variance between insurers (and even policies) as to how long you can leave your home unoccupied without invalidating your insurance, so always be sure to read the small print in your policy wording.
It’s worth contacting your insurance company if you plan on taking an extended holiday or are planning to stay at a second home to see what your options are regarding leaving the property unoccupied. Sometimes you can buy an extension to your policy to cover you during the extended vacancy.
You’re unlikely to be covered by your home insurance policy in the event that you attempt to do some DIY and end up damaging your home (e.g. breaking a pipe or damaging the structure of your home).
It’s very rare to find a home insurance policy that includes accidental damage cover, so you’ll generally have to pay a little extra to have such insurance cover added to your policy.
Yes. It’s essential that your home is kept well-maintained in case you do ever need to make a claim on your home insurance policy. Insurers will want proof that any damage you claim for isn’t a result of general wear and tear, or poor maintenance. This is especially the case during the winter when bad weather can cause damage to your home.
Yes, you will. Insurers will need to be kept informed of any changes or renovations to your home so they can keep on top of the cost of rebuilding your home. Renovations such as a loft conversion or extension will increase the cost of rebuilding, so you may end up without adequate insurance cover to rebuild your home if the worst happens and your home is seriously damaged.
Make sure to inform your insurance company of any improvements you will be making to your home before work starts so that you can keep on top of your insurance needs. Also be sure to check that any workmen you employ are adequately insured before they start working on your home, and notify your insurer of their presence as they will pose a greater insurance risk due to windows and doors being left open or unlocked.
You may find that your insurance premium increases, but it’s worth it as being underinsured is almost as bad as not being insured at all.
If rats or mice cause damage to your home, you may not be covered as part of your home insurance policy. So be sure to check the wording in your policy document and take immediate action if you find any problems in your home (contacting your local council’s pest control department is the best way to go).
Yes. You will need to inform your insurer immediately if you plan on renting out a room. It may cost you more for the extra cover, but if your home gets damaged as a result of having an extra guest you will have a valid policy with adequate cover to deal with the damages.