Tips to avoid insurance pitfalls this festive season

By Danielle van Wyk

December is here and with it the excitement of heading off for some much needed rest and relaxation sets in. This typically signals taking some time out from the shopping, travel arrangements and last minute work wrap-ups to secure your home, assets and loved ones before you head off for the holidays. 

But criminals never take a break, usually targeting the holiday season to ply their trade. Aon South Africa, insurance brokerage and risk advisors have developed a handy holiday checklist to help keep your risks to a minimum and your holidays joyful. 

“Start your holiday preparations early so that if you do need to make special arrangements or get repairs or adjustments done, you’ll have enough time to do so,” Aon stated.

1.Pay attention to your security: It is vital to start by testing your alarm and armed response, replace batteries in all passive alarm sensors, make sure door magnets are working, check your electric fence for any broken or faulty strands and clear any branches or plants that could set it off in error.

Ensure that opening doors and windows are properly secured. Don’t leave this to the last minute – it’s a busy time of year for contractors so if you do need something repaired, leave some time to get it done before you go,” Aon highlighted.

2. Ensure your driver’s license is valid: If travelling abroad or to neighbouring countries is part of your plan this holiday, ensure that your driver’s licence is valid.  You can do this by checking the territorial limits of your motor insurance cover regarding cross-border requirements. Some countries insist on license papers or proof of insurance for your vehicle.

3. Appoint a reputable house service: You may not be comfortable with allowing someone into your home to do the necessary checks when you are not there. In this case it may be worthwhile considering hiring a house service. This way you can be assured that there is someone there to switch on lights, feed and take care of your pets, clear post boxes, water plants and put out rubbish bins on collection day and inform you of any problems. 

As a rule of thumb you may want to leave a spare set of keys, as well as a contact address and phone number in the case of an emergency, such as a power failure, fire, burglary, burst geyser or resetting your alarm.  

4. Remember to do a vehicle inspection: Before taking on the long road and travelling long distances you’d do well to first do a thorough vehicle inspection in checking that your cars and trailers are both properly licensed and roadworthy. Ensuring that your vehicle’s tracking system is also up and running properly is also advised.

5. Lock the mains box outside your property: Burglars are known to trip this in the hope your alarm and fence batteries run flat. Avoid leaving garden implements and tools that can be used to force open any doors or windows lying around too.

  1. Pay the water and lights bill to avoid a power or water cut while on holiday: Immobilise any vehicles that are left behind and place any weapons, valuables and important documents in a safe or a bank safety deposit box.

7. Arrange insurance cover on your expensive Christmas gifts: If you’re planning on gifting anyone with an expensive gift such as jewellery, tech gadgets, appliances and so on try and inform your broker before you purchase the gifts so that you know when you leave the store, your items are covered.  

  1. Give your neighbours the necessary details: “Take the number of your 24-hour Incident Management Centre with you and leave details with a neighbour. Check that your insurance details and premiums are up to date. Take medical aid details/card with and save the number of your insurance broker on your phone. It’s also a good idea to have your 24-hour breakdown assist on quick dial,” Aon detailed.

9. Insure travel items:  It could be worthwhile to ensure that items such as tablets, cell phones, cameras, designer sunglasses, and luggage are covered under the All Risks insurance section on your household contents policy. “It’s important to insure all items that you take away with you. Also, when on holiday, be extra vigilant – holiday chalets are often targeted by  burglars while you’re out and about as people often let their guards down and leave doors unlocked and windows open.  There’s no fun in coming back from the beach to find your valuables, cash and bank cards stolen,” warned Aon.

10. Disconnect computers electronics: Remember to disconnect TV’s and other lightning sensitive equipment including TV aerials as this will also help save on utility bills. In addition unloading the fridge or freezer to avoid deterioration of perishable items in the event of a power failure can also be helpful.

“With the fast-paced lifestyles we live and the demands made on our time during the year, make sure your holiday checks are done and your insurance policies are current and up to date so that the only thing you need to worry about this holiday is your rest and relaxation,” Aon concluded.

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