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Undervalued contents of holiday homes leave consumers financially exposed

By Staff Writer
Increasingly, many holiday home owners in South Africa are underestimating the true value of the contents of their second properties, consequently exposing themselves to significant financial risk as these properties are often left unoccupied and unprotected for months and sometimes years on end.

Delouise Marais, Head of Personal Lines at Pinion Insurance Brokers (Pinion) - an Aon Group Company, cautions that over time new additions such as furniture, art and household equipment can add up to a significant level of uninsured contents on a second home.

"Many people will insure their property as it stands and do not always take into account the items that they may take with them to their holiday home and leave behind. This is especially true over the festive season when people leave expensive gifts or clothing at their holiday homes," says Marais.

To safeguard against this, Marais recommends that consumers make use of a simple asset inventory system in order to reflect an accurate value of their second home contents. "This often reveals surprising results. People are so shocked at the number of insurable items in their second homes and even more so at the total insurable value that all their assets add up to."

Marais warns that smaller items in a holiday home should also not be overlooked as widespread damage from something like water or fire could result in a significant financial impact. An asset inventory conducted by Pinion on a client's behalf surveyed a total of 309 items that added up to an insurable value of over R500 000.

Most insurance companies will provide this service for clients, and some will even include it at no charge. However, Marais advises that if your insurance company does not offer an asset inventory service, then you should conduct your own. "Draft a tick sheet of all the categories of contents that you own and then put a new replacement value on these items," she says. This will give you an idea of the number of valuable objects in your house as well as a broad estimation at the total value of the contents.

"Conduct regular asset inventories and take into account valuable items such as jewellery, bicycles and other sporting equipment that you might bring into the house when you stay there," says Marais. It is also a good idea to take photographs of these items so that if you do have to replace them you have a reference to the detail and specs which you can provide to your insurance companies / brokers or supplier.

According to Marais, depending on the policy, these items will be covered if the risk address has been specified and contents cover is sufficient. Personal items will be covered if items are insured on an all risks basis. "You may want to specify certain items that you take on holiday with you if your policy does not cater for losses on an all risk basis." Marais also warns that some policies may not provide theft cover for items brought to a holiday home unless entry or exit is gained via forced or violent entry.

"Speak to your insurance broker before you leave for your holiday or rent out your holiday home to visitors. They will advise you of the terms of your cover and can arrange an asset inventory," says Marais.

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