The holidays are coming up, a time when many people take off on trips and post photos to their social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook. If you’re contemplating a trip, that’s great! However, be sure to avoid posting your holiday images on social media. Doing so could void your homeowner’s insurance.
If your house is broken into while you’re away on holiday, your insurer may check your social media accounts to see if you posted photos. If they find you posted photos be warned that insurance providers are using this as a means to avoid paying out after your home has been burglarized.
Financial watchdogs are warning homeowners that even a selfie, letting everyone know you were away on a ski trip, could leave you with no home insurance coverage.
In the past, insurance companies were allowed to not pay out if doors or windows were left open and unlocked. But in these days of social media and instant posting, homeowners on holiday may be advertising to burglars that their home is unprotected, giving insurance providers a reason not to pay.
Thieves Using Social Media to Find Unguarded Homes
Police forces around the UK have noticed an increase in would-be thieves using social media to find homes and properties where the owners have said they’re away. These homes are the choicest prospects for burglars, as they know no one is home.
The Financial Ombudsman has said putting photos on social media while on vacation is like putting up a poster at home saying you’re gone on holiday. Posting holiday images should be avoided at all costs.
The Association of British Insurers has also advised homeowners not to post holiday images on social media. They are urging everyone to think carefully before doing so.
Taking Reasonable Care
Many home insurance policies usually state owners must take reasonable care to keep their possessions and property secure. You’ll find this information in the terms and conditions of your insurance policy. As noted earlier, ‘reasonable care’ used to mean making sure all doors and windows were secure. That’s now changed.
If you choose to upload and share images from your holiday, the insurance company may consider this as advertising you’re away and that your home was unguarded. You’re giving thieves notice it’s safe to visit your home because no one’s there.
In this type of situation, the act of taking that selfie with the beautiful scenery in the background could void your homeowner’s insurance policy.
How to Keep Your Home Safe When You’re Away
Here are some tips to help keep your home safe while you’re away on holiday:
1). No social media posts: avoid posting words or images saying that you’re away from home on holiday. Just don’t do it. And remember that many social media posts, not only photos, may include GPS location information. If you must post anything (not an image!), make sure location services on your device are first turned off.
2). Check homeowner’s insurance policy: it’s always a good to check your home insurance policy before going on vacation. Make sure that the amount of coverage is still accurate and review the exclusions on your policy for what could void the coverage. For instance, check to see if the policy stipulates how many days you can be away. Does the policy cover your home if you have a house-sitter come to live in to look after your pets, etc.? Do you have to notify your insurer that you’ll be away?
3). House should look occupied: before leaving on holiday, make sure your home looks occupied by:
- Cancel newspapers and other regular deliveries
- Ask someone to come and get your post each day
- Mow the lawn before you go; hire someone to mow if you’ll be away for a long period
- Ask someone to check on your home each day to water plants and make sure everything’s secure. They might the curtains in the morning and/or closet the drapes in the evening to make it look like someone’s there.
- Install light timers on certain lights to turn them on in the evenings. You could also install photosensitive light bulbs that come on automatically in the evening.
- If you dry clothing outside, make sure all laundry is off the line and taken in and make sure any drying racks are empty, especially those that can be seen through the window.
4). Put all valuables away: these should be stored out of sight.
5). Keep quiet about your holiday: don’t let everyone know you’re going on holiday. Only let those people know who need to know, such as family, close friends, and the person who will take care of your home.
Remember, when on holiday, save the bragging for when you get home. Avoid posting images or even texts about your location. If your home is burglarized while you’re away, your insurance provider may check your social media accounts to see if you advertised your home was empty, making it the perfect target.
Posting that selfie could void your homeowner’s insurance. Instead, make your home appear occupied while you’re away. Have fun on your trip and share your fun photos only after you get home.
Police UK: https://www.police.uk/crime-prevention-advice/burglary/
Neighbourhood Watch: https://www.ourwatch.org.uk/crimes-archive/burglary-prevention-toolkit/