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What can invalidate home insurance?

Having an insurance claim rejected can be infuriating and make you wonder why you bought your policy in the first place. To stop you getting caught out, we reveal the common mistakes homeowners make and what you can do to help make sure your claim is paid.

Having an insurance claim rejected can be infuriating and make you wonder why you bought your policy in the first place. To stop you getting caught out, we reveal the common mistakes homeowners make and what you can do to help make sure your claim is paid.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
Reviewed by
Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
Last Updated
24 JULY 2023
7 min read
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Why are some home insurance claims rejected?

There are many reasons your insurance provider might, infuriatingly, reject your claim.

Problems often arise if you fail to mention something important to your provider or mistakenly claim for something that isn’t covered by your policy.

There will also be conditions that you need to meet for your home insurance to be valid. For example, when you buy buildings and contents insurance, you’ll be expected to maintain your property.

Read on to understand common reasons claims might be rejected, and how to help make sure yours is paid.

Leaving your home unoccupied

Heading off on a round-the-world trip or working away from home for the next two months? Be sure to tell your insurance provider. In your insurance policy, there will be a maximum number of days that you can leave your home unoccupied.

This is typically around 30 days but it may be up to 60 with some policies. If you’re away for longer than this, your cover may be reduced or your provider could refuse to pay out if you make a claim.

If you’re leaving your main home empty for some time, you’re likely to need unoccupied property insurance. If you have another property that you leave unoccupied, you may need holiday home or second home insurance instead.

Not keeping your home secure

Insurance providers may not pay out for a burglary claim if there are no signs of forced entry at your home. Leaving windows or doors open or unlocked, or hiding keys near the front door, could mean part or all of your claim is not paid.

And be accurate when you describe your door and window locks. When you claim, loss adjusters are likely to check they match what you told your provider.

Home security tips

  • If you need a key safe, your insurance provider might recommend one they consider secure. Make sure the people who need access, like carers, use it correctly. Likewise, be very careful about sharing the code. If it’s widely known, you risk invalidating your insurance.
  • If your keys go missing, change the locks as soon as possible. It’s worth checking your policy as you may have cover for replacement locks and keys.
  • If you’ve got an alarm system, use it. Any claim for theft may be rejected if it wasn’t set at the time of a break-in.
  • Secure your outbuildings. Make sure you lock your garage or shed, especially if you have valuable tools or bikes inside.
  • Be careful about social media usage. Turn off the GPS tracking systems for each social media app when you leave the house so you can’t be tempted to tag yourself into locations. Set your posts to private. And post holiday pictures after you’re home. See more on keeping your home safe while you’re on holiday.

Not maintaining your property

It’s important to look after your home. If you don’t keep it in a good state of repair, you could find that a claim is rejected on the grounds of poor maintenance. For example, you failed to keep your gutters clear and that led to damp in the walls. Or you didn’t deal with pests or vermin.

It’s also worth noting that general wear and tear won’t be covered by your home insurance. Most policies rule out claims for damage that happens gradually and only cover insured events that are unforeseen, like flood, theft or fire.

Using your home for your business

If you run a business from home and customers visit, or you store valuable equipment or stock on-site, your insurance provider could see this as an increased risk of theft or damage.

Make sure you declare that you have a home business when you start a home insurance quote. You might want to consider taking out additional business insurance if a home policy doesn’t offer the cover you need.

You shouldn’t need to tell your insurance provider if you only carry out office-based duties from home.

Find out more about working from home insurance.

Renting out a room or sub-letting

Taking on a lodger is a great way to make a bit of extra money, but it could have implications for your home insurance.

Some insurance providers will allow you to rent out part of your home to a tenant, but this will usually increase the cost of your cover. That’s because having an extra person in the house poses more risk.

Not telling your provider that you have a tenant could invalidate your claim, even if your lodger had nothing to do with the problem.

It’s possible you may have to take out landlord insurance if your tenant has their own front door – for example, you’ve let out an annexe – or if you’re sub-letting and living elsewhere.

Renovating your home

You should let your insurance provider know if you’re having work done to your property, whether that’s adding an extension or creating an en-suite bathroom.

The work could involve builders entering the property, and your house may be less secure, so an insurance provider could see this as an increased risk. Because of this, your provider may place special conditions on your policy during the building work.

If you’re making significant alterations to your home, you may also need to consider whether the rebuild cost of your home has increased. This is likely if you’re adding a bedroom or an extension.

Deliberate damage

Although most policies cover malicious damage, insurance providers won’t usually cover deliberate damage caused by you, a family member or tenant living in your home.

To make a claim for malicious damage or vandalism, you’ll also typically need to report it to the police straightaway.

Not being honest

Telling what you might consider to be “white lies” to get a cheaper home insurance quote really isn’t a good idea.

If the insurance provider finds out that you’ve lied or withheld or provided misleading or inaccurate information, they may not pay your claim.

And don’t exaggerate when you make a claim. Say, for example, you’re burgled and tell your insurance provider that you’ve lost your receipt for a £3,000 laptop that actually cost £2,000. In such cases there’s a real chance you’ll be discovered and your whole policy could be invalidated.

This could result in no insurance pay-out, and you might even be prosecuted for fraud.

Not keeping up your monthly payments

If you pay for your insurance monthly, it’s important to be aware that your cover could be invalidated if you make a late payment or miss one altogether. If you know you won’t be able to make a payment, get in touch with your provider to see if you can come to an arrangement so that your policy isn’t voided.

Not keeping your home insurance provider updated on your circumstances

There are a number of things that you must tell your insurance provider about to make sure your home insurance stays valid. You’ll typically need to inform your provider about:

  • Change of address
  • If you change your name – for example, if you get married or divorced
  • If your home is no longer your main home
  • If you get a new high-value item
  • If someone outside your family comes to live with you
  • Someone in your household being convicted of certain types of criminal offences or you becoming bankrupt.

Mentioning these changes to your insurance provider could mean that your premium goes up. But at least you’ll have the peace of mind that your house is properly covered if you need to claim.

And for your claim to be paid in full, you’ll need to make sure you’re not underinsured. It’s important to correctly value the contents of your home and calculate up-to-date rebuilding costs.

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Anna McEntee - Insurance expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

Learn more about Anna

Rachel Lacey - Insurance and money expert

Rachel’s a self-confessed money nerd who’s been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She spent 17 years writing for Moneywise, including a few years as Editor, and likes making complicated subjects like insurance, pensions, investing and tax, easy for people to understand.

Learn more about Rachel

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