Advice for homeowners going on holiday

20 Dec 2012

It is a well-known fact that the number of home burglaries tend to rise over the festive season, as many homeowners leave for extended periods of time, providing ideal opportunities for criminals to plan and carry out their activities at their own pace.

The number of burglaries rise over the holiday seasons, and homeowners should be aware of this when planning any trips they intend to take.

Nazeer Hoosen, Executive Director of PPS Short-Term Insurance Division, says it is vital that homeowners take the necessary precautionary measures by ensuring they have a homeowners’ insurance policy in place and they also adhere to the conditions in the policy to avoid claim rejections.

“The percentage of residential insurance claims tends to increase both in frequency and value, as criminals have more time to take the possessions over the December-January holiday period."

He says one of the most important areas of the policy homeowners need to check is whether the total sum insured and stipulated is for the correct replacement value of the household possessions to avoid underinsurance.

Any new items that would fall under the contents section of the policy, such as televisions, sound systems or other expensive electronic appliances should be included in the sum insured so they are covered in the event of theft, loss or damage. It is also important that any new items covered under the all risk section, which includes items that can be taken out of the home such as laptops, smartphones or iPads, are also updated.

It is important that homeowners take precautionary measures by ensuring they have a homeowners’ insurance policy in place and they adhere to the conditions to avoid any hassles.

Hoosen says some insurance companies may require the insured to inform them of any plans to go away ahead of the trip, particularly if it is for an extended period of time and it is a good idea to let the insurance company know if you are planning a trip for longer than 30 days, or extended overseas trips, so they can discuss necessary changes to the policy.

He suggests homeowners have a plan to ensure someone they trust can access the property for any emergency situations before they go away. Giving the keys and alarm details to a family member or close friend is a way to make sure they can handle any unforeseen situations such as a burst geyser.

“However, it is imperative when using the services of a house sitter that the person is also informed and aware of all the conditions of the insurance policy to make sure the home remains effectively covered under their watch," he says. For example, they must ensure the house alarm is set and doors and windows are locked before leaving the property. They should have access to the insurance policy details and emergency numbers.

Hoosen says homeowners often forget about the value-added benefits of their homeowners insurance policies such as home assist, which can be hugely beneficial should the need arise for emergency services such as plumbers or locksmiths. “House sitters should also be aware of value-added benefits and the necessary contact details and policy numbers, in order to save the homeowner from unnecessary expenses.”

He says homeowners should ask someone to empty the mailbox on a regular basis to give the impression that someone is home and cancel newspaper subscriptions for the period. “It is also useful to install motion sensor lights on the outside of the house and place the watering systems on a timer, which will not only make it appear as if someone is still staying in the house but also protects plants from wilting in the summer heat.”

Hoosen says as long as homeowners follow the basic requirements of their insurance policy and make sure the house is locked and the alarm is in working order, they can have peace of mind that their possessions will be safe over the holiday period.

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