If you’re leaving your home for just a few minutes, it can be tempting to not bother to lock up while you pop over to the store or collect the kids from school. However, literally anything can happen in that period, and a recent rise in the number of insecurity burglaries—thefts from unlocked homes—could eventually mean that any subsequent insurance claim becomes invalid.
All across the world, police forces have their resources stretched by local crime, and one unit in the UK is clearly getting tired of dealing with burglaries from insecure homes. Tameside Police, part of the Greater Manchester force, claim that in the last three years they have been called to an average of nine burglaries per week where the homeowner simply hadn’t locked accessible doors or windows.
In fact, Tameside went on to reveal that one property on their patch has been broken into on four separate occasions, and each time the owner had failed to secure their home sufficiently.
The force aims to get tough with neglectful households—and one of the ways in which they intend to do this could have serious implications when it comes to making claims on your homeowner’s insurance.
Getting away with it
Tameside Police are threatening to contact insurance companies in cases of insecurity burglaries, and while policyholders have to declare a crime reference number when they submit, the force reveals that it’s very rare for the providers to follow this up.
“It’s quite rare that they ring us,” said Chief Inspector Steve McFarlane. “Usually the crime reference number is evidence that a crime has occurred and it’s taken on face value.”
If no call is made, then the victim of the theft is set to receive financial compensation—but the intervention of your local cops could invoke a clause in your policy that renders your claim invalid.
Take Good Care
The clause in question requires every policyholder to take “reasonable care” to protect their home and to prevent any claim from happening. Insurers are expected to adhere to the legal definition, so why would they pay out on an insecurity burglary without checking the crime details with local police?
One answer could relate to an issue with time and the sheer volume of homeowner insurance claims that are made on a daily basis. However, claim costs are shown to be rising too, so surely Tameside Police’s move should be welcomed by insurance companies.
A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers suggests that cases would be assessed individually and some policyholders may still be paid out.
“Even if the police say ‘Joe Bloggs failed to take reasonable care’ then it will still be up to the insurance company to decide, ultimately the decisions will lie with them,” the spokesman said.
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“They look at cases on an individual basis to see in the circumstances whether a person has taken reasonable care.”
Rising insurance costs affect policyholders across the world, and there’s no doubt that an increase in the cost of homeowners’ claims is going to lead to a hike in annual premiums. That’s a fact highlighted by Tameside police whose planned initiative may make households take a little more care when leaving their property unattended.
“Is it right that those who do take care should be forced to pay higher premiums because of those people who just can’t be bothered to lock the door?” asked Chief Superintendent Nick Adderley.
“This is one of a number of measures we are trying to get the public to take more responsibility and help us to help them stay safe and secure. It is radical, it’s going to be unpopular but it’s something I will defend.”
Superintendent Adderley mentions responsibility and that really is something that every homeowners insurance policyholder has to face up to. There are many things you can do to prevent your insurance claim from being rejected, but it’s better to get at the root of the problem, and insecurity burglaries can easily be avoided.
Remember to lock all accessible windows and doors before you leave the house, even if it’s only for a little while. A high quality home security system is a good bet, but don’t forget to arm it whenever your property is unattended. Keeping a checklist can also help, especially if you post it near your most-used exit. And if you still find yourself reluctant to go through the hassle now, think about how much time and money you could be saving yourself later.
Do you leave your property unlocked and unguarded? Are you concerned that the move by UK police could one day affect your insurance premiums?
This guest post was written by Kevin Raposo, a blogger for SimpliSafe Home Security. Kevin covers issues related to home security, crime, tech, and consumer issues. When he’s not writing, he’s usually playing the drums, on the BBQ, or just messing around with friends. SimpliSafe is making its way to the top of the home security industry.
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