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Published: 14/03/2017
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Everyone looks forward to going on holiday, but leaving your home unoccupied for those few days or weeks isn't always such an appealing thought. That's why a growing number of homeowners are looking for alternative means to protect their home, with research from Policy Expert revealing that nearly half (45%) of Brits rely on house-sitters when jetting off.

Those house-sitters could be friends or family members (68%), while 20% will trust their neighbours to check in from time to time. Indeed, only 15% of these house-sitters will be staying for the entire holiday, while 25% will pop in occasionally to check on things and feed pets.

However, many homeowners will also be using house sharing websites such as Airbnb to ensure their home remains occupied when they're indulging in a well-earned break, drastically reducing their chances of burglary and long-term damage (such as fire, flooding or water escape) in the process, as their home will be unoccupied for as little time as possible.

And, given that the average home insurance claim for theft or damage in an unoccupied home stands at an estimated £2,146 – and that's before the emotional cost has been factored in – it's little wonder so many people are taking additional measures in order to keep their home as secure as possible.

"Despite great leaps in home security technology and the tried and tested methods we're all aware of, sometimes there is no replacement for the human touch," said Adam Powell, head of Operations at Policy Expert. "Not only does enlisting the help of a house-sitter act as a deterrent for opportunistic thieves, they could also help prevent permanent damage from leaking pipes, damaged electrics or fire that could add up to thousands if left unnoticed until your return."

Even those who aren't asking someone to decamp for the duration of their holiday can do what they can to improve their home's security, such as by leaving the lights on a timer (65%), leaving a car in the driveway (48%), and even asking neighbours to move the post (45%) and close the curtains (26%) when they're checking in on the property.

Other top tips include installing external lighting and a burglar alarm, and ensuring valuables are out of sight (don't see that as a reason to close your curtains during the day, however, as it makes it look like no-one's home). Lock any sheds or outbuildings, paying particular attention to tools, and never leave spare keys anywhere near the front door.

Remember to check your home insurance policy thoroughly, too. This may not prevent anything untoward from happening, but it could at the very least put your mind at rest that should the worst occur, you won't lose out financially. Be particularly vigilant if you'll be opening up your home to a sharing site, and if you're in any way unsure about your level of cover, speak to your provider – and if you need additional cover that isn't on offer, it could be time to look for an alternative.


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