How spare keys could invalidate your home insurance
There aren’t many people who haven’t left the house without a key, only realising once the front door has slammed shut.
For obvious reasons, most homeowners leave spare keys with friends and neighbours just in case they find themselves outside their home, fumbling in their pockets to no avail. And, some even leave spares in old bicycle tyres, garages and cracks in walls!
But if you use either of these approaches, or both, you’re potentially at risk of invalidating your home insurance.
Not just main door keys that are the problem
It’s not just main door keys that can cause problems. Smaller keys for windows are easy to lose track of. And those for outbuildings such as garages and offices might also go missing.
Again, if this happens, there are potential ramifications for your home insurance policy.
Insurance Claims require signs of forced entry
Whether it’s a key you’ve left with friends that’s fallen into the wrong hands somehow, or keys you’ve dropped or hidden outside that have been found by opportunist thieves, and your home is subsequently burgled, there may be no sign of forced entry.
Understanding how insurers view ‘forced entry’ is crucial to understanding why it’s so important that you keep track of all your home’s keys.
Many insurers insist that for there to be grounds for a burglary claim, there has to be signs of forced entry into a home (broken and forced locks, doors off hinges, smashed windows etc.).
Without any signs of it, you’re likely to have a claim rejected, whether that’s for stolen goods or damage that may have occurred during the burglary, or both.
Robberies by ‘trusted’ associates
Any claim arising from a robbery committed by a family member, or even friend, ex-partner or neighbour, who has been given a key, or subsequently passed it on to a third party who also has a connection to you, is also unlikely to be met.
The same goes for keys given to lodgers. If the lodger turns out to be far less honest than the person you thought you were renting a room to, and they rob you blind, using the key you gave them, you’re also not going to be able to claim with most insurers, unless you have lodger insurance added to your home cover.
Burglary as an ‘act of deception’
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says that a break-in involving a lost key, or one that has been handed out to someone, would be treated as an ‘act of deception’, and not theft, thereby invalidating most home insurance policies.
There are a few insurers which would cover you however, and if you’re truly worried, it could certainly be worth finding a policy which makes allowances for such an event.
One other option is to make sure your home cover includes what’s known as ‘key insurance’. So if you lost your keys, or feared that they had fallen into the wrong hands, you would have the cost of replacing locks and keys covered.
Replacing all the locks in a home can run into hundreds, if not thousands of pounds (especially if keys to alarms are included), and could be worth considering.
What insurers expect
Insurers expect policy holders to maintain a reasonable level of home security:
- If you have an alarm, and have stated to your insurer you have one, you need to turn it on every time you leave your home.
- You also need to lock doors fully when you go out, and not just perhaps rely on a weaker lock such as a night latch. Mortice locks should be fully engaged, even if you’re just popping to the local shops for half an hour.
- Windows need to be kept closed, even on very hot days, if you leave your property unattended, or even if you’re just in the garden.
- Garages, garden offices and other outbuildings also need to be as secure as possible, especially if you told your insurer they were lockable when you first took out cover.
- If you’re going to be away from home for longer periods (usually this is stipulated as 30 days or more in home insurance policies), you need to inform your insurer as your cover may need to be adjusted.