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Common mistakes that can invalidate home insurance

Mon 01 Nov 2021

Home insurance is there to give people peace of mind so they know they’re protected should the worst occur. Accidents happen, pipes burst, and fires break out - most of the time insurers have got it covered.

However, it’s easy to overlook the policy terms and discover, too late, that your claim has been rejected. Discover how home insurance can be invalidated and the simple ways to avoid it:

The home insurance market 

The Home Insurance market has been tumultuous in 2020/2021 thanks to Covid – an increase of people working from home has led to a drop in claims for water damage and burglaries, but an increase in ones for accidental or fire damage[1]. Some 19 million Brits[2] have some form of home contents insurance cover with rates highest in Northern Ireland at 82% cover and lowest in London with just 55% of homes protected.

Most homes have contents in excess of £35,000 and the average cost of home insurance is £309 a year. Water damage accounted for 30% of all pay outs in 2018 and on average £8.9 million a day was paid out by insurers.


The reason some claims fail

Whilst the majority of claims are accepted by insurers, there are a still a number rejected because of homeowner oversight or a simple failure to read the policy terms and conditions. In 2018, the average acceptance for home insurance claims was 82.5%[3]. In contrast, 98% of motor insurance claims in 2017/18 were successful[4].

Confusion about what a policy covers was one of the most common causes of a claim being rejected. Wear and tear as well as damage caused by lack of maintenance were also top reasons homeowners failed to get a pay-out.  Some made claims below the policy excess while others had taken out the wrong type of cover. Other claims were rejected because a homeowner had supplied incorrect information or not stuck to the terms and conditions of their policy.

But there are additional reasons you might like to think about which can also cause a claim to fail:

  • Bad DIY – Not all policies will cover damage if a householder inadvertently drills through a water pipe or electrical cable. A policy may require work to be carried out by a registered tradesperson in order to remain valid.
  • Having builders on site – Having work done to your home can also invalidate a policy because there is a greater risk of builders leaving doors or windows unlocked. At the very least customers should inform their insurer when work is undertaken as well as check whether certain alterations will affect their policy, for example, changes to locks on doors and windows.
  • Pests – Customers who fail to act promptly when they discover vermin may find any damage caused by them isn’t covered by insurance.
  • Deliberate damage – If part of a property is deliberately damaged either by the homeowner, a tenant or a visitor, this won’t be covered. And if a thief can simply walk in and help themselves to belongings this, unsurprisingly, won’t be covered either.
  • Keys - Leaving spare keys under a doormat or in a plant pot is a big no no if a burglar then uses them to break in. Similarly, leaving a spare key with a friend or neighbour, albeit a trusted one, could lead to invalidation. Windows and doors must also be locked securely to comply with many policies.
  • Security - Having an alarm fitted can reduce a house insurance premium but if it’s not being used it could lead to a claim being rejected. Insurers may also have stipulations about when it needs to be activated such as while the homeowner is sleeping or away on holiday.
  • Holiday selfies – Posting shots of a week-long break in the sun may do wonders for social media likes but it could raise a homeowner’s risk of theft by advertising the fact they’re away. It might not necessarily lead to claim rejection but it’s something insurers warn against.


Transparency in home insurance

With the onus on the customer to make sure they provide insurers with all the information needed, it is worth having a dialogue with your insurer to ensure transparency and mutual understanding. 

Whilst you are considering your home insurance, the Police Mutual Home Insurance policy has been independently top rated as a Five Star home insurance policy by Moneyfacts.

Finding out more about Police Mutual Home Insurance

Police Mutual Home Insurance provides a number of benefits as part of the standard policy including buildings cover of up to £1 million and contents cover of up to £75,000. Plus, up to £500 Home Emergency cover is provided as part of the standard contents insurance cover (cover provided by ARAG plc). You can also pay monthly at no extra charge.

Police Mutual Home Insurance is available to serving and retired Police Officers, but it’s also available to Staff, Specials and family members of these Officers.

Find out more by phoning 0151 242 7640 or checking out online: Home Insurance | Police Mutual

Home insurance is provided by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Ltd.
Home Emergency Cover is provided by ARAG plc.

PMGI Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Financial Services Register No. 114942. Registered in England & Wales No. 1073408. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL

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[1] United Kingdom Home Insurance Market Report 2021: COVID-19 a New Significant Market Driver for the £7 Billion Industry (

[2] Home insurance statistics: can 6 million Brits afford to go uninsured? (

[3] Home insurance claim statistics 2021 | Morgan Clark

[4] key_facts_2019_spread.pdf (, page 7

Type of article: Articles
Category: Owning a house

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