Think you've got the right insurance policy for your needs? You might want to check the small print.
Here are 13 ways you could be invalidating your car, home, travel or life insurance policies.
1. Paying for a holiday with loyalty points
Many thousands of savvy shoppers rack up loyalty points every day, but you need to be careful what you spend them on or you could risk invalidating your insurance.
For example, if you pay for all or part of a holiday using points you’ve earned, such as Avios, some travel insurers will refuse your claim should you need to make one.
2. Driving with your pet
Your beloved pooch may love sticking its head out the window when you’re driving, but it could prove costly for you.
This is because, if you have an accident, insurers could refuse to pay out on the grounds that all animals need to be secured when being transported in a car.
Worringly, a recent survey by price comparison site uSwitch found that almost one in five motorists who have a pet don’t restrain them while transporting them.
3. Driving abroad
Once you’ve bought your car insurance, you most likely you tuck it away safe in the knowledge that you’re covered. But disembark from the ferry in France and you could find that you’re driving on the wrong side of the law as well as the road.
According to Axa, an estimated 10 million people plan to drive their cars abroad this summer.
But one in three drivers don’t know whether or not they’re covered for driving on holiday and two thirds of those just assume they are.
Unless your insurer includes driving in another country as standard, you could be left footing the bill for any accident, so double check before you travel.
4. Driving for work on a restricted policy
Using your car for only ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ can be an effective way of cutting the cost of car insurance. However, if you start using the car for work purposes regularly, and do not inform the insurer, you nullify the policy.
5. Failing to tell your insurer about building work
When you’ve got a home improvements project on the go, a chat with your home insurance company won’t necessarily be top of your list of things to do. But you’re playing around with the asset they’re protecting.
So if a wall comes crashing down, there’s a good chance of your insurer knocking back a claim if you didn’t warn them what was going on. And if your builder doesn’t have public liability insurance, you’ll be paying for repairs as well as replacements for whatever got crushed underneath.
6. Leaving doors and windows open
On the odd occasion when Brits see sunshine, insurers don’t suddenly give you a free pass to relax the security.
If you’re not in the room but you leave a window open, an insurer could take the view that you’re inviting burglars in as well as the breeze.
7. Inaccurate description of door locks
Not everyone is familiar with the technical names of door locks. Plenty of people would look bored when you say ‘five lever Mortice Deadlock’, and they could be forgiven.
But insurers love all the geeky stuff so unfortunately you have to get to grips with it too.
Putting any old description down and getting it wrong, just to get the home insurance form completed, means you risk a claim being refused in the future.
8. Impulsive holiday activities
You might not set out to do anything particularly daring on holiday, but once you’re away, living life large, you might forget that jet-skiing isn’t covered in your travel insurance.
Staysure recently reassured over-50s customers that they would be insured as standard for windsurfing and banana boating, but this won’t always be the case with every company. So if in doubt get in touch.
9. Drinking on holiday
You would be hard pressed to find a Brit who hasn’t had a tipple or two while on holiday. But insurance companies are cracking down on customers who file claims arising from drink-related incidents.
Exclusions vary between insurance providers, ranging from dismissal of claims involving ‘excessive alcohol intake’, to rejection of ‘any claims that result from using alcohol.’
10. Using social media while abroad
It’s a bit of a grey area, but posting photos of yourself on social media while you’re enjoying your holiday could invalidate your home insurance.
How? Your post is effectively advertising that your home is currently empty. Should you suffer the misfortune of being burgled, insurers could argue that you hadn’t taken reasonable care to secure your possessions.
Police forces across the country see a correlation between social media posts and burglaries.
Best wait until you’re home before sharing those fascinating pics.
11. Driving someone else’s car
Don’t assume your insurance provides the minimum third party cover for driving another car with the owner’s permission. Many motorists have been caught out by this in the past.
Some insurers do offer it but many don’t and if this isn’t a feature of your policy you could be stopped by police and handed a fine and penalty points on your licence for driving uninsured.
12. Leaving an unused car uninsured
Due to a rule change last year, all registered vehicles, even those parked permanently on the driveway, must be insured at all times.
If you just leave the car in the garage with no insurance and forget about it (along with any warning letters sent to you), you could face a £100 penalty, your vehicle being clamped, seized and disposed of, and a court prosecution carrying a maximum £1,000 fine.
It’s part and parcel of Continuous Insurance Enforcement.
The only way to avoid this is to notify the DVLA that the car is being kept off-road with a Statutory Off-Road Notice (SORN).
13. Failing to update your insurer
Telling family and friends that the new baby has arrived is a life-changing milestone. It seems a bit tedious to have to share it with your insurer too, but as life inevitably changes so do the terms of your insurance.
For example, if you have an office job and buy life insurance over a certain term, then switch jobs and become a sky-diving instructor, you’re probably uninsured if you haven’t warned your provider about the new job.
Greater risk often goes hand-in-hand with higher premiums. If you don’t tell your insurer about the new thrill-a-minute day job, it’s known as misrepresentation, which can render the policy void.
Failing to inform your insurer of certain changes can affect all other types of insurance policies too.