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22 tips and 'don't forgets' for homeowners going away on holiday

22 tips and 'don't forgets' for homeowners going away on holiday

22 tips and 'don't forgets' for homeowners going away on holiday

The festive season period is generally a time when most businesses close, allowing families to regroup and celebrate the holidays as a unit and engage in family activities in slow mode.

Be that as it may, the opposite is valid for wrongdoing in South Africa. For the most part, criminal exercises like hijackings, thefts and house break-ins will in general 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, says Susan Walls, Insurance Technical Advisor at SAIA.

"Anchoring your benefits through adequate insurance cover is something inside our methods, and a wise thing to do. As we plan to go on vacation and get amped up for meeting individuals from more distant families, let us remember that there could be somebody holding up to exploit your vacant property and take your well-deserved possessions. It is crucial that you guarantee that your assets are completely shielded from any conceivable budgetary dangers or exposures before you go on vacation."

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.

“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 handbag,” says Nico Esterhuizen, GM: Insurance Risks at SAIA.

“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,” says Esterhuizen.

” Exercise extra care when it comes to electronic or online buying, 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.”

SAIA shares some tips that could help you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season:

1. Inform your security company that you will be going away on holiday and the number of days that you will be away for.

2. Give your security company your emergency contact numbers should they need to get in touch with you urgently.

3. If possible, get someone to check the home now and again.

4. Never let the whole world know you are on holiday through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

5. 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 giveaway.

6. If you’re in good books with your neighbours, advise them to be a bit more vigilant.

7. Do not pack your vehicle in full view of the street as you do not know who may be watching.

8. Call the newspaper company and stop all newspaper deliveries to your home.

9. Ensure that your geyser is switched off - this will save you a lot in terms of electricity.

10. Ensure that you unplug all non-essential electrical items.

11. Never leave a message on your voicemail or answerphone that says you are away on holiday.

12. Keep your yard or grounds free of any equipment that may aid criminals, for instance ladders.

13. Should you decide on having a house sitter, clarify with them upfront what their responsibilities are, and put this in writing.

14. Provided the house sitter doesn’t act irresponsibly, there should be no reason for your household cover to be compromised. However, 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.

15. 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.

16. It is always a good idea to find out where the closest police station is when you check into your holiday accommodation.

17. Most hotels offer safe storage facilities, either in your hotel room in the form of a safe, or elsewhere within the hotel.

18. Before you go on holiday 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.

19. 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.

20. 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.

21. 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

22. If you are travelling by road, check your vehicle insurance.

Other things you need to consider:

- 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.

- Ensure 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.

Renting out your home during the holidays

Esterhuizen says there are 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,” says Esterhuizen.