Questions and Answers
If you've a question about insurance and protecting your home, you may find the answer amongst the questions and answers below
Q: The house I want to buy has a history of subsidence - what can I do?
A: There are various options:
- If the current owner's insurance policy is in force and has paid for remedial work to the property, the policy cover should be maintained and transferred to you as the new owner. Whilst the policy may not provide quite as extensive coverage as a more specialist contract, the main elements of damage that may occur to the property will be insured against.
- If no existing insurance cover can be traced, you should obtain detailed reports from structural engineers and surveyors, and supply them to your specialist broker to negotiate sensible terms with a new insurance company.
- If you are having trouble getting cover, see our short section on Subsidence and Flooding and then contact us.
Q: Most of the insurers I ring will not quote for my home as it was built before 1900.
A: Many insurers do 'cherry pick' the types of homes they wish to insure; however it is frustrating when you are taken through so many questions before they actually tell you the quote can proceed no further. You really need to work with a specialist broker who has access to specially designed policies for period homes. Many of these policies are only available through a broker because of the extra care and attention required. Drop us a line and we'll see if we can help!
Q: My home is timber framed and some of the walls are "clunch". My existing insurer wants to load the premium by 50%.
A: This is a common problem, which can be solved by using a broker who has access to a panel of specialist insurers who will apply 'standard' rates to such properties.
Q: My insurer didn't pay for the damage to my floor tiles when the plumber dug them up to trace a leak - is this right?
A: If it's a standard policy, it's unlikely to include "trace and access" cover. You might want to consider switching to a specialist policy which includes these sorts of extra covers - especially if you have an expensive slate or marble floor, or under-floor heating.
Q: My home is thatched - will I have to pay more to insure it?
A: You probably will have to play slightly more - but rates are better with specialist policies than with standard off-the-shelf ones.
Q: Could the presence of a burglar alarm itself be an attraction to a thief as they may think there is something in the house worth stealing?
A: Far from acting as an attraction to a thief the presence of a highly visible alarm box on the external wall of a premises is an effective deterrent. The absence of an alarm will have the effect of suggesting the house is not adequately protected. The advice is that if the valuables you want to protect are important to you, then take positive action and install an alarm system, preferably one that is monitored by an alarm receiving centre.
Q: What is the point of having an alarm system monitored centrally when the Police take so long to respond?
A: Time is the enemy of the burglar. By having your alarm monitored, it activates the Police and the keyholders are informed immediately. This enables effective action to be taken and thereby reduces the time available to the criminals. Importantly since the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) policy on intruder alarms was introduced, Officers will not attend those alarms which are not centrally monitored unless there is clear evidence that a crime has been committed.
Q: Why can't I use a local electrician instead of a NSI approved company to install the alarm as he is much cheaper and can provide local service?
A: NSI stands for the National Security Inspectorate, which is an independent regulatory certification body set up to ensure that your security system is of the highest quality and reliability. This guarantees that any alarm installation conforms to the requisite British Standard (BS4737). This is vitally important in ensuring that intruder alarms are not to continue to be the source of false alarms and a waste of valuable Police time. Hiscox only want the best quality service for our policyholders and using NSI approved companies is the practical way to ensure an installation will be competent and fault-free.
Q: I don't understand what is meant by remote-signalling.
A: Put simply, remote signalling devices are designed to provide a warning to the alarm receiving centre that a system has activated at a protected premises. The alarm receiving centre operators can then take action by notifying the appropriate emergency service. Importantly, only remotely signalled burglar alarms qualify for Police response.
There are a number of types of remote-signalling methods, the main ones are:-
- Digital Communicator (known as digicomms): This is the simplest link type, providing a digital communicator to dial up the alarm receiving centre when the burglar alarm activates at the protected premises. Digicomms should only be used on ex-directory outgoing calls only telephone lines which should enter the premises underground or in a concealed manner. This is important because overhead telephone lines are susceptible to line cutting, often a preparatory action by burglars before attacking a property. Line cutting prevents the digicomms' ability to signal to the alarm receiving centre.
- British Telecom RedCare: RedCare is very different from a digital communicator. It is a secure alarm signalling system linking the protected premises to an alarm receiving centre through the RedCare network using a standard BT telephone line. RedCare provides a continuous monitoring signal. Its great advantage over the digicomm is being able to detect telephone line cutting, often a preparatory act committed by burglars before breaking into a property.
- Dualcom: This system uses two types of remote-signalling, a standard digital communicator on a telephone line and a radio signalling pad in a single unit. It is possible to operate radio and line link systems in parallel which provide a greatly increased level of reliability and security since both types of signalling have to fail for communication to be overcome. The main UK supplier is Dualcom and this method is regarded as a significant improvement from the digital communicator type.
NOTE: All these methods can be installed by your present NACOSS approved company.
Q: Why should all external doors be fitted with 5 lever mortice deadlocks?
A: 5 lever mortice deadlocks are a good investment and are renowned for providing excellent security for perimeter wooden doors in normal domestic and industrial/commercial situations. The design and construction of this type of lock provides real protection against a wide variety of force, i.e. drilling, hacksaw and manipulative attacks (the 5 lever mechanism generating in excess of 1000 key variations). Make sure before purchasing that the intended lock has a Kitemark certifying that it conforms to British Standard BS3621.
Q: What use are window locks?
A: It is clear from Police statistics on attacks on houses that owners are still leaving doors unlocked or windows unsecure (especially on warm evenings) and they are providing untold opportunities for thieves to enter and steal. Fitting and using key operated locks to all vulnerable windows, particularly those on the ground floor, will help prevent the opportunistic thief from entering and so protect your possessions.
Q: Why do I need a safe? I keep my jewellery hidden where no one can find it.
A: Unfortunately the truth is that given the opportunity a thief will find even the most discreet of hiding places. Jewellery is by its nature a very personal thing and often amongst the most cherished of possessions. It remains the favourite target for the burglar and so great care must be taken if you wish to keep your valuables safe. Insurance money is of little or no consolation if you really want your valuables returned, so the advice is to install a safe.
Q: I have a gun safe, why do I need another one for my jewellery?
A: The majority of guns are stored in what are properly called gun cabinets. These are no more than purpose built metal containers fixed to walls and double locked but are not strong and therefore must never be used to store jewellery. A gun cabinet's construction is not as robust as the traditional safe which is designed to withstand a range of violent criminal attacks. Tested to vigorous standards, each safe model is then given what is called an "overnight cash rating", a standard by which the actual value of jewellery to be safely stored can be calculated. Remember the safe should always be of a suitable quality for the amount of cash or property involved.
Q: My dog is the best deterrent so why do I need further security?
A: An often asked question and whilst the presence of a dog can make a contribution to any overall security strategy, to rely totally upon it as the sole defence against the thief is a mistake. Better to make the house physically strong by fitting good quality key operated window locks and BS3621 quality 5 lever mortice deadlocks, steps which the latest British Crime Survey tells us reduce burglary by up to 80%. I am afraid there are many cases where cunning thieves have simply neutralised the effectiveness of a dog with the aid of a chocolate bar!