Precautionary steps to protect your possessions against fire, water and burglary

One of the principle causes of loss, and often the simplest, is water damage. You will find below some general risk management advice for consideration. Below we have also summarized precautionary steps you may take with regard to fire and simple theft. Even though some points may seem trivial, or obvious, experience has shown that it often basic measures which are ignored and forgotten. In order to make the advice applicable to as many properties as possible, this guide is generic. If you wish to have more detailed information on how you can protect yourself, AXA ART’s Claims and Risk Management teams are happy to assist you.


During some events, such as flood or fire, it may be possible to direct emergency assistance to items of great historical, cultural or economic value. In order to make an evacuation as efficient as possible you should consider creating a priority salvage card as part of your disaster planning. These cards should be as straightforward as possible as they may have to be read by torchlight in possibly smoky conditions. The salvage cards should be kept securely on site; ideally beside the principle entry point. Never disclose any items value.

  • Include a plan of the building and one of each room.
  • Use a photo of the object and add a short description.
  • Note any special removal instructions, e.g. if the piece comes apart; or is secured to the wall etc.
  • Laminate finished cards for durability.
  • Remember you can only remove the smaller more portable items. Larger pictures or pieces of furniture should be protected with fire blankets in situ.


  • Make sure your gutters are cleaned frequently, at least once a year, especially in the Autumn. Otherwise dirt and leaves may block it and water will start to overflow; possibly over the walls and into your property.
  • If you are away from home for an extended period of time a key-holder should inspect the property at least twice a week in order to identify a problem before it becomes too serious.
  • Regularly check your water bills for irregularities. An unexpected increase can be a sign that there is a leak. As a precautionary step you should always turn off the mains water-tap if the property is vacant. In case of a burst water pipe immediately turn off the mains water supply and call a plumber.


  • Install smoke or ‘rise in heat’ detectors to all fire-critical areas of your home; the kitchen, laundry room, and all exit routes such as staircases and boiler rooms.
  • If you live in a larger property, especially if it has several floors, use cross-linked systems as they increase the probability that you hear the alarm. Ideally larger systems should be connected to central monitoring centers, thus providing an Automatic Fire Detection system, which is vital if occupancy is low.
  • Have small multi-function fire extinguishers ready-to-hand in all critical areas of your home.
  • All devices should be subject to a maintenance contract and should be checked frequently in order to make sure that they are up-to-date and ready for use.
  • If you leave a room always extinguish all candles even if it is just for a short period of time. Guards should be placed around real fires.
  • Real fires should be checked by a chimney sweep once a year to make sure that the chimney is clear before use in the winter.
  • Old type three bar electric fires should be replaced by safer, oil filled radiator type heaters.
  • Faulty electrical wiring can cause fires. A qualified electrical engineer should test any electrical wiring that is over twenty years old.


  • Intruder alarms should, ideally, always be set (even during the daytime) whenever you leave home, even for the briefest periods.
  • Make sure that doors and windows are locked when you leave home.
  • Remember to also secure any ‘accessible’ windows on the upper floors.
  • Many thefts are “opportunist” - always check who you open your door to and ask for identification from tradesmen. Never leave strangers unattended.
  • Simple time switches, which can regularly turn on lights or play music, will make it harder for burglars to determine whether you are at home or not.
  • Occupancy is often the best form of security. A regular inspection, at least twice a week, by family, staff or key-holders gives the impression of occupancy. This can be simply achieved by regularly empting your mailbox, adjusting curtains, blinds or shutters, and dropping rubbish into the dustbin in order to create the impression that someone is at home. In the winter they shall leave footprints in the snow in and in the summer they can water your plants in the garden. Pets, especially dogs, improve the impression the house is occupied.
  • You should always make sure that you can be reached whenever you are away from home for an extended period. You can do this by giving a neighbor, or your security company, a telephone number on which you can be reached. If you have a mobile phone, do not forget to take along a charging device.
  • Never try to confront a burglar. If possible use the silent alarm button in your intruder alarm system to summon assistance, or telephone the police.

Above image: Drinking vessel in the form of a standing man, © AXA ART. Photo by Wolfgang von Brauchitsch.

This announcement is advisory in nature and is provided for informational purposes only. It is offered as a resource to be used by insurance advisors and insureds in maintaining an appropriate loss prevention program. No liability of any kind is assumed by AXA ART by reason of the information contained in this announcement.

  • © AXA ART Insurance Corporation, 2016