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Millions at risk of invalidating home insurance – 10 pitfalls that cause rejected claims

Millions of people could be unwittingly invalidating their home insurance putting them at risk of severe financial losses, new research suggests.

A new survey found 63% of people have done something which goes against common home insurance policy terms, which could mean a claim is rejected.

While most policies require residents to keep their homes secure to minimise break-ins, 11% of respondents have left their home vulnerable while out of the property, such as by leaving a window open or door unlocked.

Meanwhile 9% of people have left a key in an unsafe place such as under a doormat or plant pot, insurers Aviva found.

Another 7% admitted they don't maintain their homes adequately, despite insurers requiring customers keep their properties in good condition.

Using a home as a business premises without informing your insurer is also a no-no on policies. But this hasn't stopped 6% of those questioned doing so. Wrongdoings include storing stock at the property or having customers visit the home (in this case, public liability insurance, plus potentially other cover would be recommended).

Read more: What insurance do I need to work from home?

Erin Yurday, CEO and co-founder of NimbleFins, said: "Home insurance is a valuable safety net that can save you from greater financial losses. With that in mind, it’s crucial to check all the details set out in your policy are correct, including how many people are in the property and the value of the property you're insuring.

"For the best value for money, we recommend comparing a range of quotes from different insurers. That way you can see what’s on offer and work out what’s right for you."

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Undertaking significant building work at the property or leaving a property unoccupied for several weeks without informing your home insurance provider are also faux pas. But 5% of those questioned had done so.

Only 29% of those questioned said they had a good understanding of what their home insurance policy does and doesn't cover.

Hannah Davidson, senior underwriter at Aviva, said: “Most standard home insurance policies have specific requirements that customers must comply with to ensure their insurance remains valid, yet some people are unwittingly putting their homes, belongings, and finances at risk, through common actions as well as misconceptions about what their cover provides.

“This can include something as simple as leaving a window open while away from home or leaving a house key under a mat, to potentially rendering an insurance policy void with more serious oversights, such as subletting their home without letting their insurer know."

10 ways you could invalidate your home insurance

  1. Not maintaining your property properly.
  2. Not declaring building work, alterations, and renovations.
  3. Setting up a business from home.
  4. Leaving your home empty for several weeks or months.
  5. Not keeping your home secure.
  6. Subletting your home.
  7. Deliberate damage by policy holders.
  8. Not disclosing previous claims.
  9. Over-inflating the value of your contents.
  10. Not reviewing your insurance regularly.

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Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.