These 5 things could invalidate your home insurance – don't get caught out!

Check the list to make sure your home is covered

We have home insurance to make sure we're covered if anything goes wrong. But what if we were unaware of everyday things that could compromise our home insurance?

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We talked to to the experts at Swinton Insurance to get an insight into the things we should be aware of. We then created this check list of 5 things that you need to make sure are in order, to ensure your policies are valid.

5 things that could compromise your home insurance

row house with gable roof and white window

(Image credit: Future PLC/Robert Sanderson)

1. Going on a long holiday

If your home is left unoccupied a long period of time, over 30 or 60 days, insurers will normally limit the cover they provide. This means you may no longer be covered for theft, malicious damage, escape of water, frost or accidental damage. The reason behind this is that these type of claims are more likely to cause increased damage if left undetected over a long period of time.

'At Swinton Insurance, if a customer does inform us that their home is going to be unoccupied for over 60 days, we apply an endorsement to the policy,' says a Swinton spokesperson. 'This means that subject to a customer following certain conditions, they would have cover. These conditions could be having the property inspected inside and out every seven days, maintaining the heating at 15 degrees, draining the water system between November and April, hiding all of the keys or activating alarm systems.'

2. Working from home

Using your home as a place of work could compromise your home insurance, depending on the extent. For example, if you're solely using a laptop and a phone to do work then the majority of insurance policies still stand. However, some insurers might have limits on the equipment covered if it is used as a full-time work base.

'If your home office is more extensive – for example, you hold stock on site, have regular business visitors or employees working on the premises – then you should speak to your insurance provider to see whether more specialist cover is needed.'

villa with living room

(Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung)

3. Building an extension

Always inform your insurer of major building works, as these can hugely impact whether cover is provided. For example, your property is more at risk of theft and accidental damage while building works take place. Therefore, it pays to protect yourself by looking into insurance for building works before your project begins. 

'In most existing insurance policies it’s likely that your provider won’t pay out for any claim for loss or damage caused by the building work taking place, either directly or indirectly. This would be expected to be covered by the insurance of the builder who is completing the work. That’s why it’s so important to check whether your builder has the relevant cover in place before they start working.'

4. Housing a lodger

Always disclose who lives at the property, especially lodgers. This might impact whether an insurance company will provide cover, due to the increased risk of making a claim. 

'If you don’t inform your insurer that you have a lodger and then made a claim, an insurer may choose, dependent on the circumstances, to either refuse to pay the claim, cancel your policy altogether, or reduce the claim.'

villa with brick exterior and glass window

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Robinson)

5. Ignoring the ‘root’ of the problem

Nearby trees can put your home at risk.  Not just from them and branches falling, the real concern is the roots. Roots can push against foundations or grow underneath them and over time this can weaken, even move the foundations of the house. This is one of the main causes of subsidence.

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The experts suggest, 'Check your policy’s terms and conditions. See if any ‘assumptions’ put in place regarding damage caused by trees. Do this before taking out cover to ensure you meet the provider’s criteria. Otherwise, if damage were to happen to your home, caused by the trees, you may not have cover.'

Heather Young

Heather Young has been Ideal Home’s Editor since late 2020, and Editor-In-Chief since 2023. She is an interiors journalist and editor who’s been working for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines for over 20 years, both in-house and as a freelancer.