RateCity.com.au
  1. Home
  2. Home Insurance
  3. Articles
  4. Does your home insurance have you covered against theft or burglary?

Does your home insurance have you covered against theft or burglary?

Vidhu Bajaj avatar
Vidhu Bajaj
- 7 min read
Does your home insurance have you covered against theft or burglary?

Your home is precious – a haven for you and your belongings; a place where you find shelter from the outside, relax and make memories with your family. However, even though it sounds unpleasant, your home and belongings could face several unexpected threats.

Natural events like storms, floods and bushfires could cause immense damage to your property. There's also the risk of burglars breaking in through your windows, stealing your precious belongings and causing other damage.

While one can't always predict or prevent unforeseen damage, it helps to be prepared in case the worst happens. Purchasing appropriate home insurance cover could be an important step towards protecting your house and belongings against unexpected damage.

Most home insurance policies not only cover damage caused by natural events but also theft or burglary. If somebody happens to break into your house and steal your belongings, your home insurance policy could help you recover the financial loss.

But remember that all insurance policies are different, and it's important to check your specific policy for details on coverage limits and any specific exclusions. Most insurers also require you to report the theft to the police before starting the claims process.

Does home insurance cover burglary or theft?

Most home insurance policies cover burglary or theft, but the coverage may vary depending on the type of insurance you have.

Home insurance typically has two components – building insurance and contents insurance. You can purchase building and contents insurance separately or choose to buy a combined home and contents insurance cover that might be slightly more affordable.

Building insurance includes coverage for the physical structure of your home. This typically includes your walls, roofs, windows, doors, and other permanent fixtures. If a burglar causes damage to any of these elements while breaking into your house, you might be able to claim your home insurance for repair or rebuilding expenses. Some insurers may also pay for stolen goods up to a specified amount, but you'll most likely need to purchase contents insurance for comprehensive coverage of your belongings.

Contents insurance is designed to protect the personal belongings in your home. This may include your electronics, furniture, clothing, and other valuables. In the unfortunate event that your house is broken into and thieves abscond with your belongings, content insurance could help you with the cost of replacing these items.

However, make sure to check if your insurance policy has any limits on the coverage for cash and valuable items. For instance, your insurance policy may offer a total coverage of $10,000 for your belongings. But there may be sub-limits, say $2,000 for electronics, or $1,000 for clothing. Further, precious items like jewellery, rare artefacts and art collections may not be covered under a general contents policy, and you may need to buy a separate cover for these.

Are there any exceptions to home insurance coverage for theft or burglary?

Even though most homeowner's insurance policies cover theft or burglary, the extent of the coverage may differ. Consider reading the insurer's Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully to understand the exact nature of your coverage and any exceptions or limitations that may apply.

Here's a list of some common situations where home insurance coverage for theft or burglary may be limited. However, all these exceptions may not apply to every insurance policy, so it's essential to compare different products to find one that best meets your requirements.

Unoccupied home

Some insurance providers may not cover your home if it is left unoccupied for an extended period, typically over 60 days. If your house is burgled during this time, you may not be able to claim your insurance. It is generally advisable to notify your insurer in advance if your home will be vacant for some time, or you may find you're no longer covered for events like theft and vandalism.

Negligence

Failure to take reasonable precautions to secure your home could lead your insurer to deny your claim for theft due to negligence. For instance, if you forget to lock your door or leave a spare key under the doormat, the insurer is likely to hold you responsible for the damage. In fact, some policies may specifically only cover theft or burglary if there's evidence of forced entry. For example, your coverage may be affected if a thief enters your house without breaking in (say, from an unlocked door).

Damage by tenants

Damage or theft by tenants on the property isn't always covered under a home insurance policy. If you're letting your home through a holiday letting platform like Airbnb, you could check with them about the protections they offer against tenant-related damage. For long-term rentals, you may consider landlord insurance, which is specifically designed to protect landlords against potential damage caused by tenants.

Evidence and reporting

It's essential to report any theft (or attempted theft) to the police promptly. Failure to report such an incident within a reasonable timeframe could affect your insurance claim.

Making an insurance claim after a theft or burglary

Discovering your home has been robbed or your valuables stolen is something nobody wants to experience. But if you find yourself in such a situation, try not to panic. First, try to ensure that everybody in your family is safe. Once you've ascertained the safety of your family members, you could follow these steps to claim insurance for the incident.

Contact the police

It's important to report the incident to your local police station within a reasonable time frame. You'll most likely need a police report to file your insurance claim.

Notify your insurer

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible and provide them with all the necessary details, including the police report.

Document the damaged and stolen items

Remember to take pictures of any damage and list all stolen items to support your claim. It's also advisable to maintain records of all communication and paperwork related to your claim.

Securing your home against theft and burglary

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there was an increase in the occurrence of break-ins during the 2021-22 period. About 2.0% of households, equal to 194,100 homes, reported incidents of break-ins during this period. The data further reveals that property was stolen in about 65% of these break-in cases, with personal belongings like handbags, jewellery, or clothing being the most frequently stolen items.

An upturn in thefts or burglaries is a good enough reason to consider securing your home. Getting adequate home and contents cover could help you cover the costs of your stolen goods, but it's also essential to take steps to prevent burglaries in the first place. Here are some simple tips to help you enhance the security of your home:

Security systems

Installing an alarm system or security cameras on your property could enhance your safety by alerting you against intruders and any unwanted activity on your property. It could even help lower your insurance premium, as the likelihood of breaking and entering a property with alarm systems and security cameras is less.

Quality locks

Check the locks on your doors and windows from time to time and ensure they are in good working condition. A lock that doesn't work could void your insurance claim in case of theft.

Lighting

Keep your outdoors adequately lit to make your home less appealing to burglars. Additionally, consider trimming bushes and shrubs near windows and entry points to eliminate hiding spots.

Store your valuables safely

If you have cash, jewellery, or other valuables at home, consider purchasing a safe to secure your possessions. Remember to keep the safe in a discreet location to avoid attracting attention.

Review your insurance cover

Auto-renewing your home insurance policy may be convenient, but it isn't always ideal. Reviewing your insurance coverage from time to time could help ensure that your home and other belongings are adequately protected. Life circumstances can change, and so should your insurance to afford the right level of protection.

ratecity-newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter

Compare home insurance

Product database updated 14 Apr, 2024

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.