ìTis the seasonî to be burgled

The Christmas movie classic Home Alone shows exactly what the festive season means for burglars – although not all of them end up facing Macaulay Culkin.
The Home Alone burglars gloat about the lack of security and the piles of luxury items to steal.
Burglary at Christmas is an unfortunately common occurrence; when the holidays come around many of us take the opportunity to travel and see our family and friends. We leave our houses empty at a time when they are full of just the sorts of expensive items that would appeal to opportunistic thieves.

Two wheels in trouble

Bicycles are a popular choice amongst thieves so be careful to ensure that you have an insurance policy that takes them into account. Most home contents insurance will cover bikes to the same level they would cover any other household item but others state a specific limit. The Argos and Citibank policies for example will only cover your bike up to £250, hardly enough to replace an expensive racing bike. Equally many home contents policies won’t cover your bike unless it is stored in a specific place and stolen from your home.

Hiding your presents

If you’ve got kids who can’t wait till Christmas day to find out what presents they’re getting think twice before putting gifts in to the garage. While most contents policies will cover whatever you’ve stored in your garage to the same level as possessions inside the house, others have some nasty conditions. ASDA and AUA Insurance for example will only cover you up to £1500 and £2500 respectively. While others such as the Allianz Cornhill Homecover policy will cover you for a percentage of your total contents payout, in this case 15% of £50,000.

Specifically covered

It’s well worth checking the specific circumstances you are covered for. Of the 220 policies out there, almost 200 of them specify the exact circumstances under which your contents will be covered. Thirteen policies are bolder and specify that your contents are covered for all risks while twelve state that contents are only covered for accidental cover which would cause a nasty problem this Christmas if your house was broken into.

Policies also state the maximum amount they will pay out for any one item, so if you’ve bought some expensive items this year then take note.

In most cases the policy will state a cash limit, £10,000 is around average. In other cases the policy will pay out a percentage of the maximum sum for which your contents are insured. This could range from 20% to 50%, whether you are getting a good deal however can be judged by on the individual policy and its upper limit.

A limit is also set on the amount of cash you can keep in your house. In most cases this will not exceed £2000, so be careful not to leave large amounts of cash lying around.

Under insured

With over 220 home contents policies available on the UK market there’s no shortage of choice but if you don’t check the policy details you could find yourself under insured this Christmas.

Read the policy through before you commit. All policies have a "cooling off" period off at least a week. If you spot conditions you’re not happy with then there’s still time to change. It’s important to remember that the more you pay for your insurance the more comprehensive the cover is likely to be, so think twice before going for the cheapest option.

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