Top tips to protect your property at Christmas

Last year there was a 35% increase in home insurance claims for burglary between October and December

A general view of a set of keys hanging on a door knob for decoration inside an English country farm house in Essex on

Burglary claims often increase over Christmas, with darker nights making it easier for thieves to break in unnoticed and steal presents and other valuables.

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According to Halifax, last year there was a 35% increase in home insurance claims for forced burglary in darker months between October and December, compared to lighter months between March and May. Here are four top tips to ensure that your home and its contents are properly protected during the festive season and beyond.

1) Value your home contents correctly

Make sure you value your home contents correctly or you could find yourself without enough cover in the event you need to make a claim.

Admiral Home Insurance recently surveyed 1,000 adults in the UK, asking them to estimate the value of all contents in their home. The average figure came out at £18,333 – £16,667 less than the average contents value of £35,000. Across the UK that works out at a total of £115bn worth of contents that could be undervalued. Noel Summerfield, Head of Household at Admiral said: “The value of most items can be searched for on the internet, but antiques or jewellery should be valued by a professional before being added to your policy.”

2) Join your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme

Displaying a Neighbourhood Watch sticker in your window can be a good deterrent, as burglars may be nervous about breaking in if they think your neighbours are keeping a close eye on your property.

Izzy Schulman, director at Keys4U locksmiths said: “If you’re going away over Christmas, ask trusted neighbours to keep an eye on your home. This can be as simple as asking them to move any mail out of sight of windows and turn on a light in the evenings to disguise that the house is empty.

“Not only are Neighbourhood Watch schemes proven to reduce crime by up to 26%, but some home insurance providers will even offer you a discounted quote if you’re signed up to a local scheme – handy when it comes to saving up for presents.”

3) Don’t advertise your movements

If you’re a keen social media user, be careful about posting too much information about where you’re going to be at Christmas.

A spokesman for buzzvault home insurance said: “Checking yourself into different locations can advertise to potential burglars when you’re not home. Tagging your location when at home can also give burglars details of where you live. Make sure you also turn off your social media locations feature, as it can reveal your whereabouts when you post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.”

4) Check whether your insurer offers extra cover over Christmas

Some home insurance providers boost the amount of cover they provide over Christmas so that any presents and extra purchases are protected. For example, Sainsbury’s Home Insurance offers an extra £7,500 of contents cover in the run up to and after Christmas, whilst Zurich increases your sum insured by £5,000 one month before and after Christmas or other religious festivals.

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It’s worth checking with yours to see if they provide any additional cover – in some cases you have to request it rather than it being offered automatically.