This weekend, I managed to break our front door. I’d like to say that it was as a result of some kind of spectacular, comedy accident but, sadly, it was just after attempting to turn the key in the lock.
As is always the case, when you least expect something disastrous to happen, it does. So, just before heading to bed, with the rest of the house fast asleep, our front door lock breaks and I have absolutely no way of securing our home for the night.
Some rapid Googling and I discovered that getting a locksmith out to fix it on a Sunday was likely to set me back around £200. So, at midnight, I attempted to fix it myself, repeatedly exiting and entering the house while I did and giving the neighbours further reason to question my sanity.
The next day, having unsurprisingly failed to fix the door – and having not been burgled – my wife and I pondered what to do over breakfast. It was only while discussing whether an unlocked house would invalidate our insurance, that I thought about whether or not we could actually claim for the broken lock on our policy.
Some further trawling of paperwork followed and, as we had opted for home emergency cover, it turned out we were covered. A couple of hours later, the door was fixed and all it had cost us was the £25 policy excess.
But all this got me thinking, how many possible claims aren’t made every year? How many people, with a home insurance policy that they have paid hundreds for, pay again to get their broken doors fixed? And on a similar vein, how about those other ‘add on’ policies, such as legal expenses and accidental damage cover? How many people forget to claim when they knock a glass of prosecco over their laptop? How much money, as a nation, are we wasting, when we could be claiming on our home insurance?
Cashing in on forgetfulness
These forgotten insurance policies are worth millions of pounds, but only a handful of people ever claim on them. To be fair to the insurance companies, home emergency add on policies are designed for very rare occurrences, which is why – according to reports – they often pay out well to those who do claim. But, nevertheless, I can’t help but think that many of us simply forget that we have these policy add-ons, or don’t claim out of fear that it will affect our premiums.
In reality, a claim on your home emergency add-on policy shouldn’t affect your main buildings and contents policy, as it is technically a separate agreement you have with the insurer. Ours, for example. is capped at a maximum claim of £500, for a cost of £30 for the year, which we paid when we took out the main insurance.
So, there’s often no reason why we shouldn’t claim for things like broken locks. The thing is, many of us just don’t think to do so and, instead, call out the emergency locksmith. As I almost did.
The next time you break something, find yourself locked out, or find that your children have thrown a PlayStation controller at your new 40-inch TV, my advice would therefore be to carefully check your home insurance policy and the add-ons you may have bolted on to it. You might just be able to claim.
We buy home insurance for a reason and it costs us a lot of money, year after year, so we shouldn’t be afraid to make a claim. Fear of rising premiums, or of lost no claims discounts, can mean that we assume a claim isn’t possible, or worthwhile. But, if your no claims discount is protected, you may be able to make a limited number of claims without affecting it and, as I’ve already mentioned, your bolt-on policies might not even have an impact.
As for rising premiums, unless you’re claiming for thousands, it’s unlikely to be affected and, even if it is, it’s probably more than offset by the saving you make on not having to pay a third party to fix your issues. Furthermore, if your current insurer does decide to up your premium next year, shop around for a cheaper quote.
In the meantime, if you find yourself wandering down the street late at night and you see a man repeatedly going in and out of his house, while swearing and waving a screwdriver around, do him a favour and – from a safe distance – remind him that he might be able to claim for whatever he’s broken on his home insurance.