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Will home insurance protect you from ‘porch pirates’ and ‘barbecue bandits’?

New crime figures reveal garden thefts are on the rise

Be on the lookout this summer: the number of thefts from outside people’s homes jumped by almost a quarter in the past 12 months, according to the latest crime statistics.

So-called ‘barbecue bandits’ and ‘porch pirates’ have targeted everything from grills and lawnmowers to play equipment, plants and even garden gnomes.

Yet around 67% of people have never insured items stored outside their home, according to a survey from Money Supermarket. With the average British garden and shed holding £1,270 worth of items, many could be putting their property at risk.

Here, we take a look at whether home insurance covers items left outside your home and how to find the best home insurance policy to suit your needs.


 

Garden theft on the rise

In 2018, the number of thefts from outside people’s home – including gardens, sheds, garages and porches – rose by 112,000 compared to 2017.

That’s according to an analysis of latest Crime Survey for England and Wales by John Lewis Home Insurance.

The figures show that incidents of theft jumped by 23% – from 483,000 in 2017 to 595,000 in 2018.

Average cost of items kept outside of your home

It’s possible criminals have become increasingly attracted to garden gadgets, including tools, as these become more high-tech and attract a higher re-sale price.

The most common items people keep in their gardens and outside of their home include furniture, DIY tools, bikes and barbeques.

Worryingly, the price comparison site found that two-thirds of Brits (67%) have never insured items stored outside their property.  With the theft of items left outside on the rise, that could leave more than £24 billion worth of goods at risk.

The table below shows the average value of items left outside of people’s homes across the UK.

Region Total value of items stored outside
West Midlands £1,525
East Anglia £1,511
East Midlands £1,473
London £1,438
Yorkshire and the Humber £1,403
Wales £1,391
Scotland £1,231
South East £1,223
South West £1,096
North West £853
North East £770

Does home insurance cover theft from outside your property?

Most home insurance providers cover items kept outside your home eg in your garden, shed, garage or greenhouse.

The level of cover you’ll get for these will vary depending on the type of home insurance policy you buy.

It’s really important to check the terms and conditions of your home insurance to see if you’re covered for everything you need.

Some insurers may not offer protection for items kept outside your home as standard, so you may have to buy an add-on to your existing policy.

Your policy may require you to take specific steps to protect valuable items from theft – for example, locking up your bike. If you don’t follow these rules, and your belongings are stolen, your claim may not be paid out.

Find out more: home insurance add-ons, fees and charges 

How to find the best home insurance 

When thinking about home insurance protection, people often forget to check whether items in their garden are covered too.

Here are three top tips to help you make sure you get the right level of home insurance cover at a competitive price.

1) Use a valuation calculator

It’s common for people to overpay or underpay for home insurance because they’ve incorrectly calculated the value of their contents or the cost of rebuilding their home.

Using tools, such as a contents insurance calculator can help you get an accurate idea of how much cover you need. 

2) Shop around for a good deal

Price comparison websites are a quick and easy way to see what home insurance deals are on offer and which providers offer the right cover for your needs.

If you’re coming up to renewal, shopping around for a better deal, can also give you leverage for haggling a better deal with your current provider, should you wish to stay with them. 

3) Read the terms and conditions… carefully

While price is a key factor when buying home insurance, it’s not the only one to consider.

Before buying, make sure you read the policy to check:

  • you get the right level of protection
  • your excesses are affordable
  • you understand any small-print
  • you have included any necessary add-ons or extras for optimal protection.

Insurance policy wording is notoriously tricky to understand and has been found to baffle customers. So if you’re unsure about anything, get in touch with the provider for clarification.

It’s important to remember that once you’ve agreed to the terms of a policy, making a claim for something that’s expressly excluded will be impossible.

To help you find the best home insurance policy experts have analysed the standard contents insurance and buildings insurance policies of over 30 providers and combined that with feedback from thousands of customers to produce impartial home insurance company insurance reviews.

You can also find useful tips in our home insurance guide and the short home insurance video below. 

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