Photo: Michael Walker
Photo: Michael Walker

It’s never too early to check that your insurance policies cover festive season risks

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Oct 15, 2021

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It’s hard to believe, but we are fast approaching the end of 2021. With the holidays in sight, many of us are looking forward to a break, especially after December plans were derailed last year. Making the most of a well-deserved hiatus this summer is fast becoming a priority to-do list item.

However, Bertus Visser, chief executive of distribution at PSG Insure, points out that there is one major downside of the holiday season that you shouldn’t forget. “Unfortunately, as soon as you leave your home for an extended period, risks tend to materialise. While it’s not pleasant to think about, the fact is that for some people, returning home after finally getting the chance to escape on a hard-earned holiday, will not be a pleasant homecoming. Worse still, is having your holiday cut short by a call bearing bad news. What many people don’t realise, is that they need to put the appropriate measures in place well before their planned break.”

Don’t wait till it’s too late

According to Visser, making sure that your risks are managed and that your property is safeguarded before you go on holiday is absolutely essential. “Remember that good risk management is not supposed to be a last-minute consideration. Start talking to your insurance adviser right now and be absolutely certain that you’ve checked all the right boxes before your insurer’s end-of-year cut-off deadline for policy amendments.”

He explains that many insurers’ cut-off for policy amendments can be as early as the end of November. “You should therefore arrange a meeting with your adviser to discuss any changes to your policy sooner rather than later. If you leave it too late, you may be exposed to risks – and experience the associated stress – at a time when you are meant to be relaxing.”

Make sure everything is accounted for and replaceable

Visser says that home contents insurance is a crucial place to start, since many people with home contents policies are significantly underinsured. “The cumulative value of furniture and items in the home is often vastly underestimated. Just as an example, most of us have no idea what it really costs to replace the contents of our closets.”

A study by Quantum Risk Assessment showed that 79.4% of South Africans are underinsured by 51.9% of the value of their possessions.

“Take the time to go through the value of your home contents before the holiday and make sure you have included accurate replacement costs for electronics, clothes, valuables and art, in the event of a break-in, fire or flood. Make sure that high-value items are specified and that all risk policies are updated for portable items you may take with you on holiday.”

Basic safety precautions

When it comes to building insurance, Visser emphasises that there is nothing more crucial than proactive risk management. “It is standard for policies to have a number of stipulations and exclusions. A rejected claim can be disastrous, particularly after the expense of a holiday.”

With this in mind, it is important to check all external locks and safety doors, activate alarms and beams, and check their backup batteries before you go on holiday. Ensure that you have enough time to arrange an appointment with your alarm company to see to any maintenance issues before your scheduled departure date. Installing automatic light switches for certain lights to come on for a few hours at night is a good deterrent against opportunistic criminals out scouting neighbourhoods.

In addition, notify your private security company that you will be away for an extended period of time. Remember that your security measures must reflect the terms in your insurance policy, otherwise claims may well be rejected.

Avoid flooding

Visser notes that crime is not the only peril here. “It’s a good idea to switch your geyser off as, apart from using a lot of electricity, burst geysers and pipes are one of the biggest causes of household claims and can cause a huge amount of damage if not immediately seen to. You may even want to consider turning off your main water stop valve as an extra safety precaution, to avoid the possibility of a pipe bursting on your property altogether. Additionally, electronics should be unplugged, roofs and gutters need to be checked, and any other fire or flood risk should be identified and managed.”

Next, he says to consider whether your journey is covered as expected. “If your vehicle breaks down or gets into an accident, are you covered for assistance? Make sure that you have the necessary contact numbers, roadside assistance, a travel insurance policy that can help you in an emergency, and enough knowledge of your destination to make safe choices.”

Lastly, Visser says that some insurance policy requirements may take a bit of time to implement. “Don’t leave it until the last minute to update your policy. Speak to your adviser and make sure you’re adequately covered, and your home is protected. Now that you’re done worrying about every detail of your holiday and planning for every eventuality, go take some well-deserved time off,” he says.

PERSONAL FINANCE

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