10 Ways to keep your home safe while you're away

fa-homeowners ["Homeowners"]
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There's no place like home – and home insurance is there to help keep the things you love safe. But who doesn't love a getaway? From a weekend city break to a month long backpacking adventure – however you're holidaying, take a minute to think about what you're leaving behind. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of an upcoming trip, but taking a few precautionary steps could help keep your home safe and avoid any nasty surprises when you return.

Here’s our top 10 list

  1. Subtlety is key – always be aware of who might be listening in to your travel plans.
  2. Put timers on lights – give the illusion that someone is home.
  3. Curtains open or closed? – best to keep curtains as they would be normally.
  4. Check in with insurers before you jet off – always let your insurer know if you’re planning to be away.
  5. Don’t let the post stack up – a sure sign that the house is empty.
  6. Cancel newspapers & milk deliveries – as above, always think ahead to make sure deliveries are cancelled.
  7. Out of sight, out of mind – keep valuables out of open view.
  8. Peace of mind – ask friends and neighbours to check in whilst the house is empty.
  9. Lock up! – don’t get caught out by a careless mistake.
  10. Last minute checks – always leave time for a final check of your property.



Subtlety is key

Of course you want to share your trip with your nearest and dearest, but be cautious about who else might overhear – if this information reaches the wrong hands it could mean bad news. Even if you’re hoping for a speedy-departure, try to avoid leaving your car full of luggage in your drive the day before you leave.



Put timers on lights

Simple but effective. Keeping your lights on a timer creates the illusion that someone is home to any potential criminals who might be on the lookout.



Curtains opened or closed?

It’s a tricky one – open curtains may look normal in the day time but a little odd at night time, and vice versa. One option is to keep the curtains as they would be normally as a sudden change will only make it more obvious to any onlookers that no one’s home. Alternatively see if a neighbour will periodically open and close the curtains so it looks like the house is still occupied.



Check in with your insurer before you jet off

If you’re planning to get away for a longer period of time, it’s important to refer to your home insurance documents or direct to your insurer to check whether any limitations or exclusions apply. Some insurance policies can become invalid if your home is left unoccupied for 60 days (although this can be 30 days in some cases). Insurers can be pretty strict on this so make sure you get in touch before your trip to avoid any unexpected costs. Don’t worry - they’ll usually be able to increase your premiums on a case by case basis for the time you’re away.

A quick word on insurance…

You might be able to obtain extra cover on your home and contents if you find yourself travelling for longer than 60 days (or 2 months). However if you’re going to be away for longer, you may need to seek specialist home insurance. Insurance for homes which are going to be unoccupied for a lengthier period of time than your average holiday will protect you against risks like flooding, damage from a fire or storm as well as burglary.

The cost of any extra cover will depend on the value of the property and it’s location and the cost of any valuables you want to protect. It’s important to check the cover details carefully and make sure you’re aware of any exclusions.



Don’t let the post stack up

A pile of unopened mail is a tell-tale sign that no one’s home. Ask a friend to help out or try Royal Mail’s Keepsafe scheme – they’ll keep hold of your mail whilst you’re away and deliver it when you’re back for a fee (prices start from £14).



Cancel newspaper & milk deliveries

Just as a pile of post can be a tell-tale sign, unused milk and newspapers can too. Think ahead and cancel your deliveries before you leave – no one wants to have to deal with jetlag AND a collection of gone-off milk.




Out of sight out of mind

Laptops, iPads, expensive antique collections… whatever it may be, make sure you keep your valuables out of the view of any potential onlookers.




Peace of mind

Ask a nearby friend or trusty neighbour to keep an eye on your house when you’re away. Throw in a bottle of something from duty-free and you should have yourself a deal – they might even offer to water the plants or collect your post too.




Lock up

Seems obvious but it’s easy to get caught out. Make sure doors & windows are securely locked, and spare keys aren’t left in any obvious or accessible places.




Last minute checks

Even if you’re rushing out of the house to get to the airport on time, try to take a couple of minutes before you leave to have a final walk around the house and check everything looks as it should and all of the above points have been ticked off. Turn the security alarm on and you’re good to go!

...and you’re free to enjoy your trip, knowing that back home you’ve got all the important stuff covered.