When it comes to buying insurance, we pay the premiums in the hope that we will never need it. But should you require cover, you need to know you can trust the insurer to pay out. Yet insurers are well within their rights to declare a policy invalid if you have failed to keep up your end of the deal.
But there are many commonplace things you can do that mean you breach that contract and risk invalidating your cover. Here are ten ways that you could be living on the edge.
1. Making money with lifts
Ask any teenager who gets their license and they’ll tell you that if they are the first to get their keys, they can make a fortune driving their mates around. But, it could mean that these young drivers find themselves without cover as making money from giving lifts can invalidate their car insurance.
One way around this is to download Skoot, the drive sharing app as it does the maths for you. Here it means that you only receive 45p per mile (irrespective of how many paying passengers there are in the journey), so there is no profiteering being made and therefore no changes to insurance or licencing.
2. Safety first to save money
We all know it’s important to have smoke alarms and to check they are all working properly for safety reasons. But how many of us have taken out the batteries when it starts chirping and driving us mad.
Chances are, you don’t know that doing this can leave you out of pocket should you need to make a home insurance claim for fire damage? If you say you have smoke alarms in your insurance application, but it’s later found they are not working, your insurer may not pay out on a fire claim. So check those batteries and alarms often. You won’t regret it.
3. Getting tipsy on your travels
Relaxing on holiday is one thing but getting dangerously drunk or taking illegal drugs can be an easy way to invalidate your cover and increase the chances you’ll need it.
4. DI don't
If you undertake a spot of DIY but you cause some serious damage, for example by drilling through a water pipe, you may not be covered. Not every insurer pays out for home improvement catastrophes, so it’s a good idea to find out if they do before you get carried away.
5. Too many spares
Many people will hide their keys on the property so that a cleaner, builder or babysitter can get in. But if a burglar lets themselves in with keys that you left unsecured then your insurer may well refuse to foot the bill.
6. Keep your car in top nick
It’s not necessary to keep your car in shop-floor condition, but basic maintenance tasks are expected. Make sure your tyres are topped up with air, that your oil is changed regularly and that there’s enough water in the radiator. And of course, ensure you get your MOT done on time.
7. Keeping quiet about an incident (even the really small ones)
If an incident occurs, even if you don’t intend to make a claim, you need to tell your insurance provider. Not declaring minor damage could affect claims in the future if they are in the dark about the initial incident.
8. Leaving the alarm off
Your insurance may reduce in cost if you have a burglar alarm or particularly good locks but that’s for a reason – it makes you less of a risk. It’s really important to understand exactly when your insurer expects you to activate any security systems so that you don’t risk finding your cover invalidated because you didn’t.
Read the insurance documents. They may be dull but being bored is better than being broke.
9. Changing job and moving house
Car insurance premiums are calculated using a lot of different factors, but personal details like postcode and job title have a major effect on how much you pay every month.
Insurers use postcodes and crime stats to gauge how likely you are to be a victim of theft or vandalism, while what you do for a living can have a major impact on how you use your car.
If you move house or switch jobs, therefore, you should inform your insurer as soon as possible. If you get into an accident with the wrong details on file, you’ll be paying the wrong premiums and turned down for a claim.
In other words, you’ll need to notify your insurer if you change your car, address, job, where you park, which drivers are covered, how you use the vehicle, or you declare the car is off the road with a SORN.
10. Getting a lodger
Finding an affordable way to own your own home can be tricky so many people decide to take on a lodger for extra cash. But failing to tell your home insurance provider could mean you’re not covered should you need it. Pick up the phone and let them know.