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10 things you could be doing that invalidate your home insurance

Here are some simple things that could actually stop you from being able to claim on your home insurance.

Image of a person doing paperwork with a model of a house on their clipboard.

Some things that may seem perfectly harmless could actually invalidate your home insurance policy. It’s better to know this stuff now, as you do not want to find out your policy is void if and when you need to make a claim!

1. Renovations and building work

 Whether it’s a bit of sprucing up or a full-scale remodelling, we all like being able to make changes to our homes.

 However, allowing builders and decorators to come in and out of your home could affect the terms of your home insurance policy. If they can access your home when you’re not there, your insurer might consider this reckless if valuable possessions then go missing.

 It’s possible that home insurers will restrict cover for theft only to money or possessions taken from a locked drawer or cupboard where force has been used to open them.  

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to lock away possessions that are usually left out if you’re having builders over.

 Plus, you should inform your insurer of any work done to the home itself, whether they are just minor alterations or major structural changes.

This is especially important if you have both buildings insurance and home contents insurance, as some home improvements may increase the rebuild value of your home.

Full details on what buildings insurance will cover

2. Leaving the property empty for too long

 You may like to treat yourself and your family to a long holiday abroad once in a while. But make sure you check the terms of your insurance policy, as most policies will specify that your home can only be empty for a certain number of days at a time, before your cover is withdrawn.

 If you cannot avoid leaving the house for a long period, it might be worth asking somebody you trust to house sit for you while you’re away.

 8 Ways to cut your home insurance costs 

3. Forgetting to update your personal details

If any of your personal details change, for example your name after getting married, it’s vital that you let your insurer know. The same goes for turning your home into a work space.

If you do not update your policy you could end up being under insured, which means any claim may not cover the full cost of any damage. Some insurers will even invalidate your policy if your details are not correct.

4. Posting holiday selfies on social media

This one may seem harsh, but some home insurers will penalise you for posting photos of yourself online where it’s obvious you’re away from home.

 This is because the insurer might consider that by doing this you’re advertising the fact that you’re home is unoccupied. Sadly, more and more criminals are using the web to identify when a property might be empty.

 Some extreme examples of burglars using this kind of tactic occurred last year when some Premier League footballers’ homes were emptied out while they were playing matches that were televised live!

5. Installing a cat flap

While it may seem like a small alteration to your home, getting a flap installed to allow your dog or cat to get in and out of the house could invalidate your cover if you forget to inform your insurer.

Sadly, from an insurance point of view, installing a cat flap may make your back door seem less secure. So it’s always worth notifying your insurer about the change, even if it increases your premiums.  

6. Renting out a room in your house

 For many homeowners, renting out a spare bedroom can be a valuable source of income, and a great way to help you cover costs like mortgage payments.

 But many insurers will not offer policies to anyone who rents out part of their property, so it’s important to check with your insurer before doing so.

This is mainly because you’re entrusting your property to someone you may not know, so you could be putting your possessions at risk. If your house is burgled, your insurer may not cover you if you have not previously told them you had a lodger.

 Compare home insurance here.

7. Making changes to security measures

Changes to your home’s security could impact your policy premium, even if it may not be immediately obvious how. It’s always worth checking with your insurer even for minor changes, like replacing a door lock.

 This may seem like knit-picking, but insurers use a range of different factors to determine how risky your home will be to insure. Part of this calculation will include the types of locks you have on your doors.

 There may even be benefits to letting your insurer know about changes to your home security. Installing a burglar alarm is likely to make your home less of a target for burglars. While there are no guarantees, your insurance premiums might also go down as a result. 

8. Not calling 999 quickly enough after a burglary

 Again, another one that seems harsh, but if you suffer a break in and do not call 999 within 24 hours some insurers will decline to cover you.

 It’s important to ring the police to report the burglary and get a crime number as soon as you can. Whether fairly or not, some insurers might consider a delay in contacting the police as suspicious. 

9. Being slow to fix a pest problem

 Home insurance policies cover different types of damage to a property. One kind of damage that can whack your insurance cover is vermin infestation. 

 If rodents, badgers, woodworm or other pests gain a foothold in your home and you do not deal with it in time, any damage caused by an infestation might not be covered by your insurer. 

So keep an eye out for signs of infestation, like animal droppings, gnaw marks on walls and furniture, foul smells and grease marks and tracks. 

10. Not knowing how near your home is to water

 It’s vital to know how far your home is from a body of water because it can tell you how at risk your home is from being flooded. As well as keeping your home safe, it’s also an important factor in determining your insurance cover.

 If you live by a lake, a canal or a river, then your risk of flooding may be higher than those with homes in inner-city areas.

 If the worst happens and your home is flooded, your first instinct might be to immediately start clearing away the damage and to clean things up. 

 But, be aware that insurance companies will want to see evidence of your damaged goods to calculate the value of your claim. It’s frustrating, but some insurers may force you to ask them for permission to dispose of any damaged possessions before they’re able to take a look at them.

 If you do not do this you might not be able to get the maximum payment you could get from them.