How to keep your home secure while you’re on holiday
Here, Wasim Bux, Product Manager at the insurance broker iGO4, offers his top tips for keeping your home safe and secure while you’re enjoying yourself on holiday.
Most of us will put a great deal of planning into going on holiday but won’t think carefully enough about what we’re leaving behind. We’ll agonise over getting a good deal, choosing the right hotel, and putting together an itinerary, but then forget to secure our homes properly before we head to the airport. This can leave households vulnerable to burglaries, and returning to the UK to find that someone has broken into your house would certainly sour your experience and make the end of your holiday even harder to swallow.
Fortunately, there are ways to secure your property, so you can deter would-be burglars and make it much harder for them to break in if they do decide to target your home. Read on to learn more.
Check your household insurance
Simply assuming that your household insurance will cover you for whatever happens while you’re away could be a huge mistake and end up costing you a great deal of money. So, it’s important that you check your policy over well before you leave the country.
Some home insurance policies won’t allow you to leave your property vacant for more than a certain time, so this is something you definitely need to look into. You should also let your insurance provider know if a house-sitter or non-family member is going to be looking after your home while you’re away.
Create the impression you’re still at home
It’s important that you take steps to prevent your home from looking vacant and create the impression that you’re still there.
Nothing says “nobody’s home” like a pile of letters piling up on the doormat. So, if this is something that’s going to be visible through your letterbox or a glass panel in the door, you should try to prevent this from happening. Perhaps you could give a spare key to a trusted neighbour and ask them to clear your mail from the porch every couple of days. Or, if this isn’t something you’re comfortable with, you could sign up to the Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service. This allows you to put your mail on hold for 10–100 days, depending on how long you’re away for. All of your letters and parcels will then be delivered when you get back. Just be aware that this takes five days to kick in, so it’s not something you can set up at the very last minute.
It’s also important that you cancel any milk, grocery, or newspaper deliveries. Not only will this help to limit the signs that you’re away, but it will also help to save you a bit of money.
A very easy way to create the impression you’re still at home is by putting your living room light on a timer. Alternatively, you could use photosensitive bulbs that will come on when it gets sufficiently dark at night.
If you’re taking your car to the airport, I would also recommend seeing whether a friend or neighbour is willing to park on your driveway while you’re on holiday. Again, this will help to create the impression that you’re in the house.
Don’t broadcast the fact you’re on holiday
In the age of social media, it can be tempting to post about your holiday while you’re away. But, this can be dangerous, as it lets everyone know that your house is empty. As a result, it’s best to reserve your holiday Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook posts until after you get home.
If you’re travelling with your family, you should also ensure that your partner and kids are aware of the risks of posting about their holiday online while they’re still out of the country.
Remove or conceal any valuables
Unfortunately, you can sometimes do all of the right things, but still fall victim to a burglary. If this does happen, you won’t want the perpetrators to have easy access to your most valuable possessions. So, it’s important that you hide these well — or even ask a friend or family member to keep them for you until you get back.
Your values could be anything with a lot of monetary or sentimental value: perhaps you have some jewellery you would never be able to replace, or a games console that cost you a fortune. These are the things you should look to keep out of a burglar’s reach.
Remember that seasoned thieves will be well-versed in some of the most common tricks, such as hiding things in a sock drawer or under the bed. So, if you are going to be leaving valuables in your home, you’ll need to be more creative about the ways in which you choose to hide them.
Make sure your doors and windows are fitted with insurance-approved locks
Not only should you do a final sweep to make sure all of your windows and doors are locked before you leave, but you should also make sure your locks are insurance-approved. Otherwise, you could risk your insurance policy being invalidated should the worst happen.
All your windows should have key-operated locks, although the keys should be removed and hidden from view. Let anyone who is looking after your home know where you’ve put these. If you aren’t sure whether the locks you currently have a fit for the job, I would recommend speaking to a locksmith who will be able to advise you. Just make sure they’re a member of the Master Locksmith Association, as this will let you know they’re going to give you reliable information.
Before you set off on your holidays, it’s important that you ensure your house is secure. This will give you peace of mind while you’re away and limit the risk of your returning home to find you’ve been targeted by burglars. If you take these tips on board, your house will be far less vulnerable while you’re away.