September 30, 2009 19:00 ET

Households Put Their Home Insurance Policies at Risk With Inactive Burglar Alarms

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Sept. 30, 2009) - Millions of pet lovers across the UK are sacrificing home security and potentially invalidating their home insurance for the sake of their furry friends, according to Swinton.

Homeowners are putting their homes at the mercy of crafty cat burglars every day by failing to install or activate burglar alarms.

A survey of 2,000 Swinton customers revealed only one in three UK households use their burglar alarms with 72% citing roaming pets as the main reason for failing to activate them, followed by worrying about young children setting them off during the night (21%) and forgetfulness accounting for 7%.

With an estimated 5.2 million dog owning households across the UK and 6.1 million cat owners, Swinton is advising homeowners to ensure they have an appropriate alarm system which is activated when out during the day and overnight. Failing to activate an alarm which is declared in your home insurance policy could invalidate your insurance.

Over the past twelve months Swinton has seen a substantial hike in burglary claims where victims have been asleep with their house alarm turned off and the UK's leading high street home insurance retailer believes devious thieves may be preying on cat owners as the purrfect burglary target.

Steve Chelton, insurer development manager at Swinton, said: "Burglar alarms are an excellent way to secure your home, but our research has shown a worrying trend of home owners not switching them on because of their pets.

"Pets are often considered one of the family but home security should come first. We have seen cases of doors and windows being deliberately left open at night to allow cats in and out of the house - but this is obviously a huge security risk.

"There are various ways to protect your home despite having pets including installing perimeter detectors in the alarm system and using pet-friendly motion sensors.

"As well as the trauma involved with being the victim of burglary, not arming your alarm - when you are in or out of your home - may lead to some home insurance claims being void. We would urge anyone with an alarm to switch it on whenever you can, and talk to your broker if you are unsure about your home insurance cover."

About Swinton

- With 580 branches nationwide Swinton is the UK's largest high street insurance retailer

- Unlike many other companies in the financial services industry, Swinton is committed to keeping its branches open for business, and part of the community

- Swinton provides a one-stop-shop for the insurance and related needs of its clients, offering home, car, caravan, business, holiday, motorbike and even classic car insurance

- With a dedicated team of advisors on hand at every branch to search a panel of insurers to offer quality cover at competitive rates

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