Moving to a new home is an exciting experience that can both stressful and thrilling. But something that isn’t always at the top of the priority list is changing the locks. Secure locks on windows and doors is the first step in home security and is the first line of defensive against would be intruders. In this blog we go through why you should be changing the locks when you move to a new house and what implications there may be!
Who’s Got a Spare Key?
The unfortunate truth is that when you move into a new home, you do not know who might have access to your home. The previous owners may have lost a key and never thought to replace the lock, or they might have given a spare to a friend just in case or a tradesperson who may have needed access…have the keys been returned? Although those who might have been given a spare key will only have the best intentions, you can never be sure of that, which ultimately could leave your house vulnerable to intrusion.
Lock Security and Safety
Another reason to consider changing the locks when you move home is that you can confirm what security your locks have. For example, the most common lock on a uPVC door is a euro cylinder, but different models and makes can have different security features. A common way in which intruders will try to gain entry to a property is through ‘snapping’ the lock on a uPVC door, so to combat this anti-snap euro cylinders were created to provide an extra level of protection and if someone should try and break the lock, the lock breaks in a certain place to still protect the inner mechanism. This offers an extra security towards common burglary techniques and is a reassurance that if you were to leave your home, your home is better protected.
However, not all euro cylinders are anti-snap. So, when you move into a home, you may find that your locks are not anti-snap (as an example) and thus more vulnerable to attack.
How your Locks Can Affect Your Home Insurance
Surprisingly, the locks you have on your home can affect your home insurance, and even in some situations may invalidate your home insurance to the point that your insurer may not be obligated to a pay-out should you make a claim. We discuss how your locks can affect your insurance below.
Putting Down the Wrong Locks when Setting up Insurance
When setting up home insurance, the insurance provider will usually ask what level of security your locks hold. Insurance provider LV states “Home insurance companies may expect a minimum level of security on entrances to your home… They usually ask if you have these locks in place already and if you don’t, you’re given a few weeks to get them fitted” Insurance companies are looking for a certain level of security in your locks as “The more secure the lock, the better it will be regarded by insurance providers” – Compare the Market.
If you don’t know the correct locks that you have fitted on your doors, not only could you be paying more in insurance premiums unnecessarily, but by unwittingly providing incorrect information about your security circumstances, your insurance provider may not be obligated to pay out should you make a claim. This is because in most insurance policy terms and conditions it will state that you need to provide correct and accurate information of circumstances, and if you do not, you could be in breach of The Insurance Act 2015. This act clarifies that a consumer must be open and honest with their insurer and tell them about any material circumstances that may influence the decision of the insurance, which can cover what type of locks are fitted on your property.
To find out more about The Insurance Act 2015 and what you need to tell your insurer this summary offers insight: https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/legal/insurance-act-2015/
Unforced Entry into Your Home
It shouldn’t be a shock to discover that if you were to leave a window open when you left the house and some was to enter your home, your insurer wouldn’t be obligated pay out on a claim. But what might be surprising is that same reasoning is true if someone were to enter your home with a key. This is also referred to as unforced entry.
When you move into a new home, you unfortunately are unaware of who may have access to your home. Money Expert report that nearly 40% of all UK homeowners admit to loosing at least one set of keys, but what is really shocking is that nearly 31% of homeowners said they didn’t change their locks after they had lost keys! Now a friend of the previous owners may have given their friend a spare key that is sitting in the back of the cupboard and they have no intentions of entering your home, but the risk is also there that the previous owners may have lost a set of keys, not replaced the locks and an ill wishing stranger has a set of keys to your brand new home.
Furthermore, Confused.com reports that the Association of British Insurers states that if money is stolen from a property there must be signs of forced entry to validate the claim. The idea of unforced entry comes into play here as, like if a window was left open, if someone was to enter your home with a key (unforced entry) it may not be treated as theft or a burglary but rather can fall under deception – which is often not covered under home insurance policies. Ultimately, your insurance provider may take circumstances into account and look favourable upon your situation and claim, but this is never guaranteed.
Most insurance experts: LV, Compare the Market and Policy Expert to name a few, argue that you should always change your locks when you move into a new home to ensure that your home is secured not only from intruders but also in terms of policy validity.
If you decide not to change your lock, there is no guarantee that your insurance policy may be invalidated, likewise there is no guarantee that it may be valid. We always strongly suggest changing the locks, not only for peace of mind but also security, and to always carefully read your insurance policy terms and conditions.
Improper Fitment of Locks
We all like to save money by doing DIY projects, but some things require a professional. If you do decide to replace the locks on your new home, make sure that you hire a trained professional to install them properly as like LV states:
Make sure to call out a Locksmith to fit the correct lock onto your door, as if you fit it yourself and it’s not fitted correctly, this could invalidate your insurance.
Why it Pays to Have the Right Locks
Whilst it might seem like an expensive cost in the short-term, long-term the benefits are much higher. Good reasons to consider are:
- With higher security locks it can lower your insurance premiums for your cover.
- Higher security locks can deter burglars from trying to enter your home.
- If you happen to be burgled, if you meet the requirements of your insurance policy, you can replace the things that are damaged or stolen.
- If gives you better peace of mind that your home and valuables are secured when your away.
References and Further Reading