Going on holiday? Make sure your home is covered

There are loads of things to think about when you’re going away on holiday – especially if you’re going away for a long time. But have you thought about what you’re leaving behind?

Some people don’t know that leaving your house unattended – especially if it’s for a long period of time – could invalidate your home insurance. Typically, your cover might be at risk if your house is empty for more than a month.

So what can you do if you’re jetting off on a long holiday – or leaving your home empty for another reason? Here are some tips from Home & Life – who provided this article.

Talk to your insurer

The best way to find out whether your insurance will cover your home while you’re on holiday is to ask. If you’re going away for longer than your policy covers, you might be able to adjust your policy accordingly. Note that this may increase your premium.

According to Thisismoney.co.uk, if you’re only going away for a bit longer than your policy limits you to, your insurer might be flexible. They might agree to extend your cover, but sometimes you will have to meet certain conditions. For example, you will probably have to prove that you’ll secure your home to high standard. In some cases you may be asked to turn off your water, gas or electricity supply.

Find specialist cover

If your insurer won’t cover you, you might have to invest in ’empty house’ insurance. This kind of insurance is likely to have a lot of terms and conditions attached. For example, many empty house policies will cover your buildings and fixtures – but not necessarily your contents. Or they may offer contents cover – but at a higher price.

In this case, it might be best to put all of your contents and belongings into storage while you’re away. It depends what’s cheaper and more convenient for you.

Consider a house sitter

The best way to make sure that your house is still covered while you’re away is to ensure it’s still occupied. Ask a friend or relative who you trust to watch your house for you.

Alternatively, there are services that help you find a house sitter online. Just make sure you go through all the appropriate procedures to make sure your house sitter is trustworthy.

Is your home safe while you are on holiday?

Having escaped for a short weekend break and desperate to find an Italian restaurant in the area, I tried to login to the hotel’s free Wi-Fi, only to find out they required my name, address and email address before giving me access. Now call me paranoid, but there’s no way I was giving out my details.

Why? Well, if I’m logged into free Wi-Fi in a hotel miles from my home, it stands to reason that my house is empty – giving a green light to anyone able to access the information.

We are all so familiar with the Internet and social media – Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. – that we often overlook the security implications of using it. How many of you publish to Facebook the fact that your off on holiday soon, or tweet it to your followers, or check-in at a venue on Foursquare without a moment’s thought that you’re announcing to the world and his wife that you aren’t at home, or that you home isn’t going to be occupied?

Our social media habits are increasing the risk of burglaries, particularly when we are away on holiday – in 140 characters or less you could be announcing to family, friends or burglars that your home is going to be unoccupied and for how long.

Research into the social media habits of 3000 people for The Co-operative Travel and The Co-operative Insurance revealed that 51% of children regularly update their social media status about family holidays. Around 44% of respondents said they are friends with people they have never met and 37% said they have no privacy setting to prevent their information falling into the wrong hands.

Trevor Davis, Director of Retail Distribution for The Co-operative Travel, explains: “The traditional precautions people take to protect their homes whilst they’re on holiday are being undermined by the growth in social media. This is particularly true for families with teenage children, who perhaps aren’t as aware of the need to avoid telling strangers that your house will be unoccupied.

“This year’s holidaymakers are likely to be particularly vulnerable, due to the growing availability of Wi-Fi connections in hotels and resorts. This is allowing people to keep updating their accounts while abroad and inevitably raises the awareness that the user is away from home.”

Holidaymakers need to be aware of the information they give out, and the implications of sharing data with the wrong people. For example, Police in America uncovered a gang who targeted Facebook users, and broke into 50 homes after checking when the owners were away on holiday.

Tips for securing your information on social media sites:

  • Don’t use Foursquare to check-in to venues: airports, hotels or places abroad that will suggest that your home is empty
  • Watch who you share your data with – use privacy settings properly
  • The more specific you are about where you live, the easier it will be for a burglar to locate your home. Use a general location, such as a city or county.
  • Don’t publish dates of your holiday
  • Post updates about your holiday and photos after your holiday, not during
  • Keep personal information to a minimum
  • Don’t accept friendship requests from people you do not know – it may seem like a bit of harmless fun to add them but you just can’t be sure who they really are
  • Make sure your children are aware of the risks and don’t let them publish too much information about your holiday.