When the clocks go back the burglars come out to play — creating a pre-Christmas peak in thefts from property. Harnessing social media, police forces have taken to Twitter to update neighbourhoods with crime reports.
My local bobby-on-the-tweet is MPSBarnet, who sends several messages a day with updates on emerging crime hotspots — where perhaps several break-ins have taken place in a single road — and gives advice on security and local crime news bulletins. This week I was told: “As you walk home tonight you will pass houses in darkness that tell a burglar no one is home. What will your house be saying?” and: “Hendon area had a number of shed burglaries over the weekend — bicycles seem to be the object of choice so keep them secure”
Always practice basic crime-prevention, such as leaving lights on time switches while out, locking all doors and windows and never leaving briefcases or other bags visible in parked cars. At home you need to check that your property is insured.
Simply renewing the policy agreed with last year’s provider (or, even worse, sticking to the same one you’ve had for decades) will almost always be the expensive option.
Prices are going up anyway: according to data from AA Insurance, the cost of buildings cover rose 2.4 per cent to £181 over the three months to the end of September (and 5.2 per cent over 12 months), while the average contents cover costs 1 per cent more at £242 (which is up 7.2 per cent over the past 12 months).
Of course, the report also points out that the most expensive region in which to insure a home is London and the South East. That’s why it’s crucial to get the cost as low as possible.
The first rule is this: never, ever accept a renewal price. Instead, visit a couple of comparison sites - moneysupermarket.com and gocompare.com together cover a broad range - while also paying a separate visit to Aviva and Direct Line - they’re two of the UK’s biggest insurers, but are not listed on comparison sites. Since they don’t pay to subscribe to them, sometimes they offer cheaper quotes.
Once you’ve found the cheapest rate, either approach your existing supplier and ask them to match it, or visit a cashback site such as quidco.com or topcashback.co.uk, either via a different computer or by clearing your cookies (google it or ask a teenager if you’re not sure how) and click through to buy the cheapest quote.
If possible, always try to buy cover in full rather than via monthly payments, which cost more across the 12 months. Ensure you’re not under-insured: say you convert a loft or add a garage, then you’ll have to increase the value of your home for building cover.