The December holiday period is generally a time when most businesses close enabling families to regroup and celebrate the holidays as a unit and engage in family activities in slow mode.
However, the contrary is true for crime in South Africa. Generally, criminal activities like hijackings, robberies and house breakings tend to reach a peak during this time of the year. The South African Insurance Association (SAIA) would like to encourage the general public and policy holders to be extra vigilant in everything they do as they wind down their activities for the year.
Secure Your Assets While You Are on Holiday
“Securing your assets through adequate insurance cover is something within our means, and a wise thing to do. As we prepare to go on holiday and get excited about meeting members of extended families, let us keep bear in mind that there could be someone waiting to take advantage of your unoccupied property and help themselves to your hard-earned belongings. It is vital that you ensure that your belongings are fully protected from any possible financial risks or exposures before they go on holiday,” says Susan Walls, Insurance Technical Advisor at the SAIA.
Walls says one can achieve this through liaising with their insurer, or financial advisor who can assist in identifying short-falls and how they can be avoided.
What About Wallets, Purses, Handbags?
Nico Esterhuizen, GM: Insurance Risks says we rarely check the contents of our wallets and purses or handbags before we go on holiday. “If we did, one would be amazed at the amount of personal information contained in them that should not really be in the wallet or hand-bag.
“When going on holiday, always ensure that your wallet only has carefully considered contents. Carry only those bank cards you will need to use. Avoid carrying identity documents and passports if you are not crossing the borders. A good form of identity is your valid driving licence or the new ID card. Ensure that the websites you log into are secure websites and always log off after completing your purchase.
Exercise extra care when it comes to electronic or online purchases, as this is where a great deal of identity theft normally takes place, both online and in store. Also, closely monitor your bank accounts and credit card activity throughout the holiday period just in case you pick up an anomaly,” says Esterhuizen.
The SAIA says below are the top tips that could help you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season:
Top Insurance Tips for When You Go On Holiday
- Inform your security company that you will be going away on holiday and the number of days that you will be away for
- Give your security company your emergency contact numbers should they need to get in touch with you urgently
- If possible, get someone to check the home now and again
- Never let the whole world know you are on holiday through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
- Consider using or installing a timer switch to switch lights off in the mornings and on in the evenings. If you can’t arrange either, don’t close the curtains and switch the lights on before you go – it’s a dead give-away
- If in good books with your neighbours, advise them to be a bit more vigilant
- Do not pack your vehicle in full view of the street as you may not know who may be watching
- Call the newspaper company and stop all newspapers deliveries to your home
- Ensure that your geyser is switched off, this will save you a lot in terms electricity
- Ensure that you unplug all non-essential electrical items
- Never leave a message on your voicemail or answerphone that says you are away on holiday
- Keep your yard or grounds free of any equipment that may aid criminals, for instance ladders
- Should you decide on having a house-sitter, clarify with them upfront their responsibilities are, and put this in writing.
- Provided the house-sitter doesn’t act irresponsibly, there should be no reason for your household cover to be compromised. But the house-sitter must ensure that the house is locked and the alarm, if you have one, is activated whenever he or she leaves the premises. If not adhered to, a claim for theft could be rejected by your insurer if it is found there was no forced entry.
- If you will be spending time on the beach, leave expensive jewellery, excess cash and pricey cameras secured at the place where you’re staying. Should you decide on taking anything of value to the beach, do ensure that someone reliable keeps it in safe custody while you hop into those waves
- It is always a good idea to find out where the closest police station is when you check into your holiday accommodation.
- Most hotels offer safe storage facilities either in your hotel room, in the form of a safe, or elsewhere within the hotel.
- Before you go on holiday is a good time to ensure that all your insurance policy details are up to date and that you are holding up your side of the policy agreements, so that, if you need to claim, it will be straightforward
- Check that the cover for your home contents is adequate – in other words, that the sum insured accurately reflects the replacement value of the entire contents of your home.
- Ensure that your homeowner’s insurance (for the buildings) is in order. This covers events including fire or water damage from floods or a burst geyser.
- Check your all-risks cover, and the limits thereof, especially for items you are taking with you. Certain items of value may need to be specified or insured separately
- If you are travelling by road, check your vehicle insurance. Among the things to consider are:
- If someone is sharing the driving load, will you be covered in the case of a claim?
- Check the policy’s terms and conditions on who can drive the vehicle.
- Ensuring you are covered for emergency breakdowns, accommodation, roadside assistance and car hire, and upgrade your cover if necessary.
- If you are travelling with a trailer, make sure it is insured.
- If you are crossing into a neighbouring country, you’ll need the following:
- A letter from your insurance company stating that the vehicle is covered for cross-border travel.
- A letter of authorisation from the financing bank stating that the vehicle may be driven across the border, as it is the property of the bank until it is paid off.
And What About Your Rental Property?
Esterhuizen says there is an increasing number of property owners who earn an additional income through letting out rooms, or their entire flat or homes during the holiday season for commercial gain. “It is vital that they engage their insurer or broker before embarking on this exercise to understand the risks and consider appropriate action in the form of additional cover or a change of insurance cover to a hospitality-type or commercial-type of cover.
“Remember that letting rooms in your property considerably increases your risk of loss or damage, and you are exposed to liability claims from paying guests. However, be conscious of the fact that you are not automatically responsible for injuries to people living in your house, and you shouldn’t accept blame before discussing the matter with your broker or insurer,” he concludes.
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