I was burgled twice in ten days when my baby was ten months old. My husband was living "up north", whilst I remained in the south where we were selling our lovely nineteenth century lodge cottage: the Lodge was long gone - the Scots pines, oak, sycamore, beech etc flourished where once it had proudly stood. It's attraction, detached and surrounded by mature woodland on all except the road side, was, of course, its weakness. There was a council estate further up the busy main road, and private housing across the road. We experienced no problems in the years we lived there until the "sold" sign went up. The police informed us that this was a common problem, for some reason "sold" signs act as an invitation to thieves.
So, when I spotted an article entitled How keys could invalidate your home insurance policy by "Confused.com", and the way that the companies often try to wriggle out of paying out on claims, making use of the infamous "small print" which many people ignore, I naturally read it. BTW, I admit to being a keen small print reader, and always read it before signing anything, much to the frustration of sales people!
I don't have a claim to make, thankfully, and my windows and doors all have locks; the door locks are supposed to be amongst the best available. Insuranace companies always ask about this, and premiums can be lower if you have this protection. The article begins:
'Homeowners may think that locking the doors and windows of their property is enough to keep it safe from burglars but is it?
Most homes usually have several keys covering front doors, back doors, side doors, and windows as well as garages, sheds and outbuildings. But with so many keys to keep track of, it could be easy for one to end up in the wrong hands. And if this does happen, and someone breaks into your home using a key, will your home insurance cover you?
The answer is no, according to insurer Churchill, which confirms that for burglary claims to be paid out, forced entry must be proven so a homeowner would not be covered if a key is used.'
Essentially, you may encounter problems with your claim if a key has been used to enter your property to effect the burglary, which is why it's very important to replace your locks if you lose your keys. A good insurance company will cover this cost for you, but even if it doesn't, the cost of replacing a few locks is small compared to the mental anguish of having your home invaded. I found this intrusive aspect of the burglaries worse than the theft of the items.
A point raised in the article was that if you're away from home for a protracted periosd, usually more than 30 days, you need to inform your insurance company, and they may impose terms/conditions which you'll need to comply with to maintain cover. A common condition is that someone visits the house on a weekly basis to ensure that all is well. The likelihood is that you'll give this person a key so that they can enter the house to check for leaks etc. or you might hand over a key to a neighbour so that they can draw the curtains each evening for you and water your plants.
However, the fact that there are keys around, and there is no sign of a forced entry, can lead to the claim being dismissed - even though the company may have insisted that the house be checked. SO, read your small print, and if you don't like what you read, strike it through before you sign - or try a diffrent company.
But, be aware - they'll take your money, but they're not "on your side", companies exist to make a profit, and paying out on a claim eats into those profits.