Cheap Home Insurance...in 10 Simple Steps
If you own a property you'll be painfully aware that home insurance is one of life's unavoidable expenses. Policy prices have risen in recent years, but if you shop carefully your insurance premium needn't break the bank. The following ten simple steps are tried and tested ways of cutting the cost of your cover:
- Set aside a modest yearly budget to gradually improve the security of your property. If you haven't been the victim of a break in you may be reluctant to improve your home security, but don't get complacent. Besides peace of mind, additional security can mean serious savings.
- Use visible deterrents to make your property less appealing to opportunistic thieves. Burglar alarms, security lighting and CCTV are all proven deterrents. However, you'd be surprised at how effective a few Neighbourhood Watch stickers can also be. Remember that one third of burglars get in through back windows* so make sure deterrents are prominent front and back.
- Make sure that all external doors are fitted with quality deadlocks that meet the specifications of your insurer (typically British Standard 3621:2007 and displaying the Kitemark). Most insurers recommend five lever mortice locks with a minimum bolt throw of 20mm, however some specify a throw of 50mm. And don't forget to lock all your doors every time you leave your property
- Always keep an eye on your keys. Hiding keys underneath a mat or beneath a plant pot is as good as handing them over to a burglar. Keep keys out of sight of prying eyes, ideally on your person or in a locked key safe. If you lose your keys or they are stolen you should change your locks.
- Fitting window locks is arguably the most cost effective (and the simplest) way of cutting your home insurance premium. Invest in window locks with removable keys and make sure they are fitted to all windows. Patio doors and French windows need at least two door locks, preferably positioned top and bottom.
- Reinforce vulnerable windows. Burglars commonly gain access by smashing windows (or glass door panels) and you can make their lives more difficult by replacing them with laminate glass. Better still consider fitting ‘Windows of Enhanced Security' certified to British Standard BS7950 or installing grilles or shutters. Don't overlook upper floor windows accessed by drainpipes, flat roofs or bay windows.
- Secure the outside of your home. Tools, ladders and garden equipment should be locked up and stored in a locked garage or shed. Similarly any passages, gates or garages should be kept securely locked.
- Join your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme and help make your area a safer place to live. Neighbourhood Watch is recognised by insurance companies and taken into account when assessing policy pricing. If there isn't a scheme in your area why not take the lead and set one up. Contact your local police station or visit www.neighbourhoodwatch.net for more information.
- It's hardly surprising that a door is the favourite way for a burglar to get in (and out) of a property, and they need special security attention. Speak to a locksmith about beefing-up your door security with the following: mortice bolts fitted top and bottom, steel reinforcing strips, hinge reinforcing bolts, a letterbox visor guard, a door chain and a door spy viewer.
- Burglars tend to be cowards and prefer to break into empty properties.... so make them think that you are ‘home'. Use lights and radios on timer switches to give the impression that the property is occupied. Remember to cancel newspapers and milk if you go away, and ask a trustworthy neighbour to keep an eye on your property and clear your mail regularly.
- Neighbourhood Watch Home Security Fact Sheet www.neighbourhoodwatch.net
- See also: ‘A guide to home security' (Home Office, 2007) www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk