How to Prevent House Theft When You're Away on Holiday
When you leave your home for a few days of vacation, the last thing you expect is to return to find there has been a break-in and someone has stolen your valuables. Whether you are already conscious of property theft or have never considered how well your house or apartment is protected from intrusions, we've rounded up some essential steps you can take to keep your home and belongings secure.
- Protect Your Home From Theft: the Essentials
- Check your Multirisk home insurance and make sure it covers all your valuables and that the right value has been declared in order to be reimbursed at the right value in case of robbery.
- Secure the place where you live with some security equipment such as alarms, security doors, motion detectors. Now, many different connected options can be part of a security system in your house and prevent any intrusion.
- Prepare your home for your absence: do not leave valuable goods visible from outside, close all the doors and windows leading inside your house…
- Tell your insurer if you leave your house for more than 90 days.
- Ask your neighbours to keep an eye open for you and remain vigilant while you are away.
Look at the provisions of your home insurance contract
Your home insurance won’t stop a robbery, but it might be a relief to realize that part of the stolen goods is insured and the damage caused by the theft can be covered. Jewellery, art goods, wine, high-tech equipment, all these objects that are researched by the burglars can be covered by your insurance. Indeed, as the theft and robbery risk are usually not part of the multirisk insurance, it can have been added as an option when you signed your insurance agreement.
Depending on the goods and the value they have, you can subscribe to a specific option for precious objects and jewellery. You will have to provide your insurer with the value of the goods you want to guarantee and that will determine the premium and the price of the option you will have to pay.
If you have some very precious objects, and you live in an area considered as being a ‘’risk area’’, your insurer may require from you to put some security equipment to prevent any theft. If you do not have this equipment or if you do not install it, the insurer may refuse to insure the said valuable goods.
How to insure your goods with multirisk home insurance?
Multirisk home insurance covers the risk of damage on your house or apartment but the coverage for theft or robbery risk is usually not included in the basic offer. Therefore, as an option, you will have to subscribe to this additional guarantee. Like all the other guarantees provided by the home insurance providers, you should ask for details and be sure that it will cover all your goods. Moreover, it is important to carefully read the details about the maximum amount insured and the exclusions that may exist.
If there is no such option included in your actual home insurance:
- You can still ask your insurer to add it. If you do so, you will have to sign an amendment to your initial contract. It will, of course, increase your premium, as you will add a new guarantee.
- You can look for another insurance plan, with another offer including the risk of theft and robbery.
If you want to change your multirisk home insurance, ask for quotes in order to compare the different coverage, exclusions, options and prices. It is always a good idea to ask a quote to several different insurers. Even if they look quite similar, some of them may have options that would better fit your needs.
How to prevent any theft while you are absent?
The insurance for robbery risk is one thing that will give you the guarantee to be reimbursed in case of damage and theft in your property. But you can also try to prevent any theft in your house. Here is some advice that should be applied before you leave your home for a few days.
Secure and protect your valuables
Thieves look for valuable goods, something they will be able to resell such as jewellery, art, high-tech equipment but also money or credit cards. Therefore, you can take your credit card with you, of course, but you probably won't travel with all of your jewellery or art paintings. So there is one solution, invest in a safe to store your valuables. You can have one inside your home and place it in a remote place, hidden inside your house or apartment. But you can also ask your banker if they offer safe storage for their clients.
Carefully close the doors and windows
Do not attract the attention to your place by leaving the doors, windows or any other access open. The front door, of course, but also the door to your garden, the backyard, any outside windows and the garage should be carefully closed before you leave. You should also close your shutters, as it is a good protection system against any attempt to enter your home. And it does not matter if it is just for three days or for a few weeks - the risk is the same.
Do not leave any garden equipment outside because that would be easily visible and may attract attention. Try to put all your tables, barbecue and other tools inside your garage, out of the sight.
Ask your neighbours to come and pick up the mail from your mailbox. Having a mailbox full of letters is usually a sign of absence and may attract attention to the fact that your home is empty at that moment.
Some burglars have developed a strategy in order to know if a place is empty or not. They leave an ad in front of your house entrance or half-entered into your mailbox, wait for a few days, and if nothing has changed within 2 or 3 days, it means that they can go for what they planned.
Tell your neighbours you are leaving and look for holiday tranquillity operations in your neighbourhood
As you leave your home for a few days, you can tell your trusted neighbours of your absence in order for them to keep an eye open. They can also come and pick up your mail. Some French towns have created a plan called ‘’tranquillity holidays’’. The inhabitants fill a document and ask the police to watch for their home in their daily patrol during the summer month.
Do not talk about your holiday schedule on social media
Nowadays, thieves also use social media in order to prepare their actions. Be sure not to share the dates of your absence from your home online and on any form of social media. It is easy for any ill-intentioned person to access this information if they are present on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Put some specific lock on your doors and windows
Doors are the surest way to enter your home and leave with your goods. Therefore, we can advise you to have a solid door, and invest in specific locks if needed. Some doors can be fitted with a multipoint lock which is more difficult to force. The locks called ‘’A2P’’ are difficult to open and as a robbery last around 10 minutes, they ensure the resistance of, at least 5 minutes, up to 15 minutes for some of them. This type of door is very useful, especially for apartments because the robbers will need to make more noise and take more time to open the door.
Windows are easily breakable, meaning they are a good way to enter your home too. If you are on the ground floor, you can invest in window bars or strong shutters or even some specific antitheft windows.
Safety requirements Before you leave your house or apartment for a break or for holidays, do not forget to unplug all the electrical devices, cut off water and gas, close all the doors and windows, do not leave any tools in the garden and do not let any valuables visible from outside.
Buy security equipment
Today, very efficient equipment systems exists in order to protect your home from any intrusion while you are away. Here are some high-tech solutions that can be used to monitor your house:
Buy an alarm system
The alarm system is the most common security equipment we think about in order to protect a home. Sometimes the insurer may even require from you to invest in such equipment if you live in a risk area. You can go online and compare the different alarm systems that may fit your needs. The most used and easy to install is a camera and a motion detector. It may even work in case of power failure. Some alarm solution can also be connected to a security company which can notify the police in case of any doubt or intrusion in your home.
Use domotic systems
When you leave your house for a few days or even for several weeks, a crafty trick is to pretend your home is not empty, by having your lighting system mimicking an occupied house's schedule. Domotic systems may deter the thieves by pretending you are still inside your house or apartment. You can use your smartphone to turn on the light in your living room at regular moments of the day.
What to do in case of a robbery
Being the victim of a robbery is a very harrowing experience, as someone entered your privacy and took pieces of your life. There are some obivous material losses but also some additional emotional damages we probably don't even anticipate. Despite that, you have to act quickly in order to preserve all the eventual proofs of the event and declare the damage to your insurer. Hereunder is some advice if you face a burglary in your home.
- Do not touch anything: Your first reflex will be to put away all the different things that may have been moved by the thieves and look for all the damages and loss that you may have suffered. That is a reflex but it is not the best reaction to have. In order to preserve all the evidence, you should not touch any of the objects inside your home before you call your insurer and the police. A police agent should be the first to look at the situation and make the preliminary findings on a report.
- Call your insurance provider: Once you have noticed the robbery, you have 48 hours to call your insurer and declare the damage. No need to go to an agency, you can just call them and tell the situation. The agent will tell you what to do and how you can claim for indemnification for your losses. That is the first step. Once your insurer is aware of the damage, you will have to explain the details circumstances, the date and the losses in a written letter. All kinds of proofs of the valuables lost are good to send to your insurer, so don't hold back if you can send photos for example.
- Repair all the doors or windows that have been damaged: If you have suffered from damages on your door or windows, we should repair them by calling some professional your insurer has suggested. In all cases, keep all the bills and proofs of payment in order for you to be reimbursed by your home insurance.
- File a complaint at the police station: again, within 48 hours you discovered the robbery you should go to the nearest police station and file a complaint with all the details about the circumstances and your losses. A copy of the complaint will have to be sent to your insurer.
- Wait for the expert to come: depending on the damages you suffered in your house or apartment, your insurance may send you an expert who will evaluate the damages.
After all this process, you will finally be reimbursed for the goods covered by your insurance.
What if there is no proof of a break-in theft?
Some home robberies may happen without any proof of break-in while the residents are inside the house or the apartment. In France, it is called ‘’home jacking’’. Sometimes, this crime is executed while the owners or tenants are asleep and sometimes it is committed with violence by forcing the resident to let the thief enter the house. In both cases, it is a very traumatic experience and despite the material loss, there is moral and pshycological damage.
This situation is difficult to prove to your insurer if there is no evidence of physical violence. Usually, home jacking is considered as an exclusion of the damages covered by the insurer. Nevertheless, if you have video surveillance around your home, it is proof of an obvious offence. Despite that, do not hesitate to call the police and file a complaint.