Tips for homeowners going away on holiday
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 break-ins
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, says Susan Walls,
Insurance Technical Advisor at SAIA.
"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 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 belong-
ings are fully protected from any possible financial risks or exposures
before you go on holiday."
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Author: Veda Palmer