Homeowners urged to check home insurance cover

An insurance expert is warning homeowners are at risk of losing thousands of pounds on claims, after new figures revealed a surge in burglaries in the West Midlands over the past year.    

Rob Matthews, of insurance broker, Lycetts, fears homeowners could suffer huge financial losses if they are burgled, due to underestimating the value of their contents. The warning comes after new crime figures revealed a rise in the number police reported burglaries in the West Midlands, with an increase of more than 5,000 incidents on last year. Mr Matthews said:

“Unfortunately, it is often the case that homeowners only become aware that they are underinsured when they come to make a claim. This could land them with a huge financial loss, or even result in a failed claim – which is the last thing burglary victims need at an already distressing time.”

Home Office figures, published by the Office of National Statistics on January 25th, revealed that 45,404 burglaries in total were recorded by police in the region between October 2016 and September 2017. That's an increase of 13 per cent, with 5,060 more burglaries than 2015/16.

West Midlands saw the highest number of domestic burglaries committed, at 17,770, followed by West Mercia with 4,477, Staffordshire with 3,694, and Warwickshire with 2,418. Considering this, and the fact that an estimated 75 per cent of high net worth homeowners are underinsured*, Rob is now urging homeowners to review their policies and ensure all of their valuables have the sufficient cover:

 “Those who own high value items – such as fine art, antiques, wine collections, family heirlooms, and jewellery – are particularly vulnerable to being underinsured,” he said.

 “Owners may not necessarily know the true value of such items, particularly if they are gifted or inherited, and are often unaware how the value of these items appreciate over time.

“For example, gold prices have gone up by 25 per cent over the past five years – altering the value and level of cover needed. 

“Art, antiques or vintage wine collectors should be aware of external events which influence their value. For example, fine art can soar in value following the death of an artist or wine collections may increase in value if it wins a prestigious award. All this needs to be factored into the insurance policy.”

Rob warned that a general household policy may not cover valuable or treasured possessions at all.

“This could be due to exclusions which apply to highly desirable, valuable or fragile items not covered by your policy,” he said.

“Some one-off items may need separate specialist cover such as very expensive jewellery, collectables, musical instruments, family heirlooms, wine collections, valuable antiques or fine art.

“Therefore, it is imperative that high net worth individuals regularly review the value of their items and inform their insurance provider of any changes -  or face potentially huge losses if their possessions are stolen.”

Rob emphasised that the burden of calculating the value of home contents falls squarely with the homeowner – and that giving a flawed ‘educated guess’ to insurers is the downfall of many. But he added that there are a number of ways to be more accurate when accounting for home contents:

“Remember, an item’s value for insurance purposes is how much it would cost to buy new, not what it cost when you bought it. Don’t forget to check items in your attics, basements and outbuildings, as well room by room. Keep receipts for items such as designer handbags, jewellery.

“Always be clear about your single item claim limit. If unsure, ask for advice or clarification from your provider. Get advice from experts to value your most treasured possessions – never guess.

“Have antiques, family heirlooms and jewellery valued every two years and let your insurer know if they are stored in a safe or vault.

“And finally, be wary of online valuation tools as they may not be accurate. If in doubt, call a trustworthy provider who will offer personal, expert advice to find you a policy that suits your exact needs.”


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