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Home insurance a must as the nights draw in, says Halifax

21 October 2009 / by Rachael Stiles

In preparation for the clocks going back this weekend, Halifax home insurance is urging home owners to protect themselves from thieves who take advantage of acting under the cover of darkness.

Darker evenings mean that a thief's window of opportunity is wider than usual, leading to an increase in home insurance claims resulting from burglary.

Homeowners should take some precautions to avoid falling victim to burglary this autumn and winter, says Halifax, and thieves currently have the added incentive of the recession which has led to a rise in break-ins.

Halifax home insurance has recorded an 8.5 per cent rise in the number of claims made for burglary, amounting to more than 8,000 instances, compared to the same time the previous year, and believes that the recession could be at the root of the increase.

There are a number of things householders can do to limit the chances of burglary, Halifax suggests, such as keeping doors and windows locked at all times, installing security lights, gravel driveways, and a burglar alarm which is always set at night and when the home is unoccupied. A dog, or even a 'beware of the dog' sign can be a deterrent, as can prickly bushes, high walls and spiky railings.

Households should keep ladders and tools locked away so that burglars cannot use them for their own means, join a neighbourhood watch scheme, and if they go on holiday, make sure they fit timer switches to the lights and ask friends or neighbours to keep an eye on the property for them.

Thieves know where to look, so homeowners should never leave keys in 'safe places' such as under mats or flower pots, the home insurance provider warns.

If a household is unlucky enough to become a victim of burglary, there are things they can do lessen the impact, such as marking their belongings with a UV pen or etching their postcode onto metal items such as bikes, which can help the police to trace them if they are stolen.

It is also important for householders to ensure their home insurance is up to date and sufficient for their needs, Halifax stresses, so that if something is stolen they are financially protected.

Senior claims manager at Halifax home insurance, Martyn Foulds, said: "Most burglars are looking for an easy target, and the cover of darkness makes life simpler for them. It is not only the financial loss that we want to protect people from, but also the distress caused by knowing a stranger invaded the home. The good news is that with a few simple and cost effective measures, homeowners can greatly reduce the risk of becoming a victim."

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