What can invalidate house insurance? key points to be aware of

Having your policy invalidated is one of the worst case scenarios when it comes to insurance. But what does it mean to have your home insurance invalidated? Find out what can invalidate home insurance, and what this could mean for you.

What does it mean when home insurance is invalidated?

The consequences of having your home insurance invalidated

Does a key safe invalidate home insurance?

Will my home insurance include cover for lodgers?

Will my insurer allow me to sublet or list my property on sites like Airbnb?

Does house insurance cover broken door locks?

Can you get house insurance for a holiday home?

What happens if you over or under-insure the value of an item?

Do I need to notify my insurer when renovating my house?

Will my insurer cover me if something is intentionally damaged?

What happens to my home insurance if I use my house as a business?

How long can I leave my property unoccupied?

What does it mean when home insurance is invalidated?

Invalidating your insurance means you’ve submitted incorrect information to your insurer, so may result in a refused claim. This could be part of the claim, or it could be all of the claim entirely. In the worst case scenario, your home insurance policy could be voided altogether, which means that it’s cancelled as though the policy never existed. The potential reasons for having a policy invalidated are numerous. Examples of where this could happen include:

  • Missing out key information.
  • Deliberately misrepresenting your information to get a cheaper premium.
  • Not keeping your property well maintained or secure. 

Key principles to follow

The key principles to follow and make sure that your home insurance policy isn’t invalidated are:

  • Telling the truth: Be upfront with all of your details and make sure that they are accurate when renewing. When there has been a material change in circumstances, be sure to let your insurer know. 
  • Take steps to mitigate any risk: Insurers expect you to take reasonable steps to make sure that you’re reducing the risk of any loss, damage or injury occurring. Most of this should be common sense. Does your front door have no lock? Did you leave the window open after leaving the house? Is your property clear of hazards which could result in injury? If claims occur due to issues like this, your insurer is likely to not cover these claims. Maintaining and keeping your property secure is essential.
  • Keep your insurer updated: Always let your insurer know if circumstances regarding yourself or your home change. If you aren’t sure whether you need to inform your insurer or not, contact them anyway.

Finding out that your policy has been invalidated can not only be unpleasant, it can also have severe consequences.

The consequences of having your home insurance invalidated

The severity of consequences as a result of having your home insurance invalidated depend on the reasons for your home insurer doing this. Some examples of what could happen are:

  • Out of pocket expenses: If your insurer doesn’t cover your claim, you’ll have to pay for the cost of repairs. This could range to a minor inconvenience if you just need to replace a broken window to life changing sums of money if you need to rebuild the entire house.
  • Being blacklisted by insurers: In cases where your policy has been voided due to fraud, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to purchase insurance again. 
  • Incurring significant stress and hassle: Having to deal with these kinds of consequences can be stressful, especially if deceiving your insurer wasn’t your intention. 

Following the key principles listed above will help you avoid getting your policy invalidated. But what are the key areas where this issue is likely to happen? We cover frequently asked scenarios below.

Does a key safe invalidate home insurance?

Key safes come in all types, shapes and sizes. Insurers also view key safes differently. The potential risk from having a key safe installed is if someone breaks into it, takes the key and gains access to your home. 

Key safes can be installed for a variety of reasons that may also affect the insurer’s decision, including:

  • Using one for non-residents that enter the house regularly, such as carers or cleaners that don’t have their own key.
  • Having a backup in case you lose your keys whilst out somewhere.
  • Utilising a key safe for guest check-ins if you’re listing your home on sites like Airbnb.

Out of these examples, insurers may view the risk of using a key safe for guest check-ins differently given that it’s being used for paying guests. Whether you get cover for this depends on whether your insurer is comfortable with this. Choose a specialist insurer such as Pikl if you’re struggling to find cover.

More generally, there are some insurers that will refuse cover any time a key safe is being used. Others may be comfortable with this provided it’s the right type of keysafe, such as a Police approved one with the ‘Secured by Design’ logo. Before installing a key safe, you should:

  • Speak to your home insurer first.
  • Let them know why it’s being installed.
  • Be upfront and honest with any information you give.

Your insurer may stipulate conditions under which a claim is covered in relation to the keysafe itself, such as the type you should buy and how it’s installed. Ask for this in writing so that you have it written down if needed. 

Will my home insurance include cover for lodgers?

Standard household premiums are based on the assumption that the people living in your property are residents living there most of the time. A lodger on the other hand is considered to be a different risk entirely. Examples that may change the risk in the insurers eyes include:

  • An increased risk of a liability claim (e.g. if the lodger has an injury and sues the landlord).
  • A higher likelihood of damage claims occurring such as theft or accidental damage.
  • The potential for contractual disputes to arise that may result in legal challenges.

With the above examples being just a few of several potential issues that could occur, insurance for lodgers isn’t typically covered as standard by most home insurers. Instead, you’ll need to speak to your insurer and check if this is covered. Your insurer may:

  • Refuse to cover this and cancel your policy (if you already have a lodger), giving you a grace period to get cover elsewhere. 
  • Be happy with this but stipulate that you’ll get no cover for lodger-related claims. Some insurers may supply some cover but exclude cover for specific scenarios.
  • Be happy to cover you.
  • Confirm cover but specify certain stipulations such as the requirement to take out additional public liability insurance.

Not letting your insurer know about your lodger situation could end up with your insurer invalidating your policy.

Will my insurer allow me to sublet or list my property on sites like Airbnb?

Most standard insurers restrict or exclude cover for claims relating to paying guests or issues that arise out of subletting, as we discuss in our Airbnb insurance guide. The types of issues not covered can vary in range, including:

  • Theft.
  • Vandalism.
  • Accidental damage.
  • Public liability.
  • Legal expenses.

Home insurance and landlord insurance is typically designed to cover residents or tenants and not paying guests, meaning that it’s highly likely that your policy will be invalidated if you don’t tell your home insurer about this activity. Second home policies such as the kind of holiday let insurance provided by Pikl are specifically designed to cover short-term holiday rentals. However, many standard insurers still exclude issues like theft and malicious damage by a guest (unlike with Pikl).

If you’re looking to get home, landlord or additional home insurance cover that also protects you against guest-related issues, click on the link below to get a quote with us today.

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Does house insurance cover broken door locks?

A broken lock on a door that grants access to the property is a major security issue. Replacement locks are typically covered under home insurance policies for this reason, so be sure to contact your insurer to get this resolved immediately. If a claim does occur before you notify the insurer of this issue, they may not cover the claim if you’ve been negligent. Other lock related scenarios where you may want to consider notifying your insurer include:

  • Losing your keys.
  • Renting out a property to a paying guest that loses your keys.
  • Changing the locks on your doors yourself.

Losing your keys would also be deemed a potential security risk, especially if the last time you saw them was with another person that doesn’t live at the property. Depending on the situation, you may be able to claim to get your locks replaced. Whenever changing door locks yourself, you should still contact your insurer to make sure they are comfortable with this. Not all locks are approved by insurers.

Can you get house insurance for a holiday home?

In contrast to home insurance, second home insurance providers cover properties that aren’t a main residence. Some examples of where this ‘second home classification’ could apply are:

  • A family property just used for holidays.
  • Properties solely used for renting out to short-term guests.
  • Homes that are regularly unoccupied for several months of the year.

Properties used as holiday homes carry with them a different risk. Potential examples of risks more likely to occur at a holiday home include:

  • Burst pipes.
  • Theft.
  • Guest-related claims.

A big risk factor when it comes to holiday homes is the fact that most owners don’t visit them as regularly, meaning that they may not be there to minimise any losses like they would if living there all the time.

The different risk factors when it comes to second homes versus primary residences mean that regular home insurance will not cover the former. Taking out the wrong insurance for your property could result in a claim being rejected

What happens if you over or under-insure the value of an item?

Not only will this increase your policy premiums, insurers will only cover the real value of an item. By contrast, undervaluing an item may not get a claim rejected but could still end in negative outcomes as you won’t be getting the true value for what you’re insuring. 

To avoid a drawn out claims process or miss-valuing the worth of an item, make a note of the true value of items in your property. Taking photos of items to prove their existence and current condition will also help the claims process proceed more smoothly.

Do I need to notify my insurer when renovating my house?

Notify your home insurer as soon as possible if you’re considering a significant renovation to your property. Here are some examples of building work that could qualify as significant:

  • Major internal renovations.
  • Moving structural walls.
  • Creating new outbuildings.
  • Extensions that change the physical structure of the property.

Making significant renovations may impact the value of the property or any new items inside of it that result from this. Your insurer may need to account for these changes and adjust your premium accordingly. 

In addition, the materials used when renovating your property are also relevant, as discussed in our ‘What does home insurance cover? guide. If the materials used aren’t covered by your insurer, this may prove costly if notifying them after the changes to your property were made. As always, speak to your existing insurer if you aren’t sure. 

Will my insurer cover me if something is intentionally damaged?

If you deliberately damage property, your insurer won’t cover you for this. When it comes to someone else damaging your property, it depends on what happened. Examples of scenarios where this could happen are:

  • You left the door open. Someone entered your home and damaged the living room.
  • An Airbnb guest or a tenant had a party at your house and trashed it.
  • Someone breaks into your home and damages your property.

Each insurer will have different exclusions when it comes to malicious damage. Some insurers will exclude guest-related cover, for example. Don’t assume that every type of malicious damage is covered. Check your policy booklet or speak to your insurer if you’re unsure.

What happens to my home insurance if I use my home as a business?

Always let your insurer know that you’re running a business from your home. Insurers may not pay out claims otherwise. Here are some potential scenarios where that could happen:

  • A customer slips and falls at your property, claiming against you for injury damages.
  • You enter into a contract dispute with an employee that takes you to court. 
  • The property is damaged and the cause of the claim relates to business activity conducted on the premises.

Your insurer will want to know what type of activity is being conducted there, as this may change the risk and require them to make changes or cancel your policy.

The outcome with your insurer depends on the type of business you’re conducting. For example, using your property as a restaurant is less likely to be covered whereas working from home on your laptop may not cause any concerns. 

How long can I leave my property unoccupied?

Most insurers only allow you to leave your home unoccupied for no more than 30 days. Any time beyond this may be covered by your insurer. However, you’d have to speak to them first to find out. Insurers may place stipulations on your policy for unoccupied periods longer than 30 days, such as:

  • Turning off the water mains when the property is unoccupied but leaving the heating on. This is to make sure the possibility of burst pipes is reduced, especially during the winter. 
  • Making sure you visit the property regularly a certain number of times. This is to make sure that you’re able to check up on the property in case something does go wrong.
  • Having someone that can visit the property on your behalf in case this isn’t possible.

Where it comes to standard home insurance, many insurers may refuse to cover you and suggest that you purchase insurance with a specialist provider elsewhere.

Pikl is a specialist insurer that provides cover for hosts and holiday let owners that rent out their property on sites like Airbnb, Booking.com and Sykes Cottages. If you have any specific cover queries relating to this, get in touch and one of our friendly experts can help you.

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If you have a question or need to make changes to your policy, then please email us or give us a call.

Pikl Insurance Services Limited is a private limited company registered in England and Wales under company number 10449346 with registered office Suite B, 2nd Floor, The Atrium, St. Georges Street, Norwich, England, NR3 1AB. Pikl Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA, firm number 773457.