For most people, a house is the most extravagant purchase we will make, so keeping it safe and secure is important not only financially but emotionally too.
Home security covers a whole host of ways to protect your home and its contents, from deterring burglars to making sure your house or flat is prepared for the winter months and keeping on top of fire safety.
To help make sure you and your family feel safe in your home, we’ve put together some handy guides which include advice from the experts at Admiral Home Insurance as well as national utility companies and a former Crime Scene Investigator.
How to protect your home from burglars
Home security measures will not only give you peace of mind that your house and everything inside it is safe, but a certain level of security could be a requirement of your insurance.
In England and Wales, by the year ending September 2015, there were an estimated 743,000 incidents of domestic burglary according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales.
Unfortunately, we can never 100% guarantee that our homes won’t be burgled but there are steps we can all take to help deter burglars.
According to police.uk, having no security measures in place makes your home five times more likely to be burgled compared to those with simple security measures.
How can I make my home secure?
Start with the locks, in our guide to window and door lock types we cover the best locks to fit at your home – not only will they make you feel safer, they can also help reduce your home insurance premium.
Next you could consider alarming your home, and it’s up to you and your budget how hi-tech you want to go.
In our guide to the best home security gadgets, we discuss everything from traditional burglar alarm systems to smart doorbells and wireless security cameras; consider if you want to get wired vs wireless security cameras, they both have pros and cons. Just like having the right locks fitted, having a security system in place could help reduce your insurance premium.
If gadgets don’t interest you, there are other ways you can help protect your home. For example, if you have friendly neighbours, let them know when you’re going on holidays and ask them to keep an eye on your home; thye could be your personal alarm system.
And make sure you don’t leave any valuables on display; you don’t want to entice any potential burglars. For more advice on deterring break-ins, read our 9 top tips on securing your home.
Home security while you’re abroad
With an estimated 31million Brits using Facebook in 2016, it’s not difficult to believe that it’s not only your friends and family who see your holiday posts and check-ins.
While we’re all guilty of shouting about the fun things we’re doing on Facebook and Twitter, your seemingly innocent posts could be dangerous to your home security. Burglars are tech-savvy and they too can see when you’ve checked into an airport or uploaded a photo of your latest bigpurchase.
A recent survey conducted by Admiral Home Insurance revealed one in six social media users have fully open accounts, allowing anyone visibility. While 70% of people admit to uploading holiday snaps to Instagram.
We spoke to former Crime Scene Investigator and criminologist Alex Iszatt for her advice on how to be social media safe and how to protect your home from unwanted visitors.
She said: “If your friends can see where you have checked in, so can burglars. Criminals can get a good idea about where you live and use Google Street View to find the best way into your property.
“Turn off location-sharing features, update your privacy settings and stop broadcasting to people who aren't in your immediate group of friends.
“Try not to post from your holiday destination – it’s a clear advertisement your house is unoccupied. If you really can't stop posting your pics, add them to an album and share only with your close friends and relatives.”
How to weather-proof your home
While there are plenty of steps you can take to alarm your home, make it more secure and less of an easy target for burglars, what about protecting it during the winter months and bad weather?
If you live in a flood-prone area, you are more than likely aware of the Flood Re scheme which aims to give homeowners a wider range of home insurance options at a more affordable price.
Since its launch in April, some 53,000 homeowners have secured a Flood Re-backed home insurance policy, according to the postonline.
In April, Admiral Home Insurance surveyed 1,000 homeowners about their views of flooding and 78% revealed they would be put-off from buying a home in a flood-prone area.
However, according to the Environment Agency, more than five million properties in England alone are at risk of flood, with more in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
December 2015 was the wettest in a century and it’s estimated that around 16,000 homes were flooded in England alone.
If you live in a food risk area, or you’ve suffered flood damage in the past, watch out for flood warnings and take a look at how Flood Re could help you save money on your home insurance. We also have a handy guide on how to make a claim if your home is hit by flooding.
If flooding isn’t a concern for you, you may just need to take some steps to prepare your home for the winter months and stormy weather.
When temperatures drop, it’s a good idea to carry out a few quick jobs at your home and garden such as insulation, lagging the pipes and a quick outdoor tidy, to help prevent any damage to your house.
We spoke to Dwr Cymru Welsh Water for their advice on preventing frozen pipes in our 11 step guide to preparing your home for winter, and there’s even a quick quiz you can take to see if your home is winter ready.
Fire safety in your home
A fire in the home can have a devastating effect on your home, you and your family, but it’s something you probably think will never happen to you.
Home Office fire stats for 2016 show there were around 73,000 primary fires between April 2015 and March 2016; a primary fire is the most dangerous type that harms people and properties.
The stats show that house fires are the most common type of fire accounting for 43% of all primary fires over the same period. And they're also one of the most common home insurance claims we process at Admiral.
House fires rank third, coming in behind boiler emergencies and escape of water. We've provided advice on how you can help prevent these incidents from occuring at your home in our most common household claims guide.
In terms of fire prevention, the most important thing you should check as soon as possible is that you have a working smoke detector; regularly test your smoke alarms to make sure they don’t need a battery change and aim to put new ones in once a year.
Our fire safety guide offers a host of advice on how you can keep your home safe – things like not overloading sockets and how to make sure your kitchen isn’t a fire hazard.
Home insurance – why do I need it?
We can take all the preventative measures in the world but sometimes accidents and unwanted events can happen, and if they do, you’ll want to make sure you have the right insurance in place.
At Admiral we offer three different levels of home insurance so you can pick the product which best suits your needs and budget.
The type of home insurance you need depends on your living situation; if you’re a homeowner and you live in the property you might want combined cover that protects the home and everything in it. The combination of buildings and contents insurance means everything from the walls, fixtures and fittings to your clothes and tech are protected.
If you’re living in a rental property you will only want contents insurance as buildings insurance will be included in your monthly service charge. Contents insurance covers your belongings within your home, items such as your furniture, clothes and electrical items, if they are damaged, lost or stolen, up to the value of £150,000 depending on the level of cover you choose.