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Could travelling invalidate your home insurance?

Esther Shaw / 21 March 2017

If you’re planning to leave your house unoccupied during your holiday, do you need to check your home insurance?

A man leaves his home to go travelling - hopefully he has the correct home insurance in place

I’m going on holiday for a few weeks – will it affect my home insurance?

If you are planning an extended holiday and going to be away from your property for a prolonged period, this could affect your home cover.

Generally speaking, if a property is left unoccupied for 30 consecutive days or more, a standard insurance policy may only offer very limited cover.

So, if you were to make a claim on your standard insurance, but your property had been left empty longer than the limit stated on your standard policy, it may well not pay out – or at least not the full amount.

That said, some insurers will offer cover for a longer period. Saga Home Insurance, for example, will offer cover, as standard, for a property which is unoccupied for up to 60 consecutive days.

Equally, if you need cover for an even longer period, it is worth speaking to your insurer, as they may be willing to offer cover for an even longer period – depending on the circumstances.

However, this will vary from one insurer to the next, and will also usually involve terms being applied to the policy.

Always check your policy, as some insurers will automatically allow you to be away longer than 30 days, especially if this starts in the policy year and is for a holiday.

Saga Home Insurance provides cover that goes beyond what you might expect. For more information and to get a quote click here.

Can I ask someone to stay one night to reset the count?

While you may think that a simple away to get around the problem of your home being unoccupied is by arranging for someone to stay for a night to reset the count, you need to be very careful.

Terms and conditions will vary from one insurer to the next, but many insurance providers would not class a property as ‘occupied’ if someone only stayed there for one night.

In many cases, for an insurer to deem a property ‘lived in’, a visitor would need to stay there for a substantial length of time. So if someone is house sitting for the full duration of the unoccupancy, cover may be available, but would depend on the circumstances and the agreement of the insurer.

How to keep your home safe when you go on holiday

Can sharing travel photos on social media invalidate my home insurance?

Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and will be watching the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram very closely in the hope of picking up crucial information about householder’s movements.

By posting travel photos on one of these sites, you are essentially advertising the fact your property is empty – and telling burglars they have a window of opportunity.

If an insurer believes you were reckless in the information you gave out, you could potentially invalidate your cover.

Firms will assess home claims on a case-by-case basis to ensure due care has been taken with keys and security – and that homeowners have not been increasing their risk.

That said, most insurers will not penalise you for using these sites, but will urge homeowners to take a sensible approach to advertising details of their holidays.

Don’t advertise your home to burglars on social media

What if thefts are not noticed and reported until I return home?

If a theft or crime occurs while you are away, the damage may not be noticed until you return.

As soon as you are aware that a theft has occurred, you must report it to the police in order to obtain a crime reference number. Failure to do so could result in claim rejection.

The best way to ensure any theft or crime is noticed and reported as soon as possible is by asking a trusted neighbour or friend to keep an eye on your property for you while you are on holiday.

It may be helpful to give them a set of keys so they can take in any post, open and close the curtains, and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.

Another good way to ensure your home is safe while you are on holiday is by joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, so other members of your local community can keep an eye on your property while you are on holiday.

Seven tips to keep your home safe while you're away

What happens if my home floods while I’m on holiday?

If the dreaded happens, and your home floods while you are away, well-meaning friends or neighbours who have access to your property may want to clean the place up and restore some order before you return.

But if the flood has stopped and the damage is done, it is essential that they wait for the loss adjuster to make an initial assessment of the damage, and to explain the repair process. It is also the loss adjuster’s job to organise the cleaning and stripping out of your home (if required) once the waters have receded.

If friends or neighbours start cleaning up before the loss adjuster has carried out their role, this could affect your claim.

However, if your friends or family discover the flood as it is occurring and try to stop it, it’s unlikely that any measures taken to prevent further damage to the property would have a significant effect on a claim, so they should feel free to try to protect your home in this instance.

Are the items I take with me on holiday covered under my home insurance policy?

When you go on holiday, you will want to have the peace of mind of knowing that items you wear or carry with you – such as jewellery, cameras, mobile phones and clothing – are covered.

The key is to check the Ts & Cs of your home insurance policy.

With Saga Home Insurance’s Premier policy, you get £10,000 unspecified personal belongings cover as standard anywhere in the world.

With Saga’s Essential cover level, you have the option of paying an additional premium for this cover.

You can opt to pay up to £2,500, £5,000 or £10,000 as an add-on for unspecified personal belongings anywhere in the world. The premium you pay for this extension to your policy increases with the higher amounts selected.

In both cases, the single item limit is £2,500.

In addition, with both Saga’s Premier and Essential policies, bikes are covered up to £500 (although this only applies in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man).

All of this means that if you lose your phone on a train, drop your camera while on holiday, or have your bike stolen, you have the peace of mind of knowing you will be covered.

What about items that need to be specified?

If you have personal belongings or valuables which are worth more than an insurer’s single item limit, you will be given the option to list these separately. The same applies to valuable bikes.

If items are not specified, you may not receive a payout if items are lost or stolen – or certainly not for the full value – so it is important to get them listed.

With Saga Home Insurance, for example, you can ‘specify’ valuables worth more than £2,500, and pay an additional premium to get these items covered; this cover will apply worldwide.

Equally, if you have a bike worth more than £500, you have the option to specify this as well – and to pay an additional premium for this cover. (While this cover only applies in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, the insurer may be able to extend this, subject to agreement from the underwriter).

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.