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IntegriSure: Be your own risk manager

16 March 2009 IntegriSure

The worldwide economic slowdown, as well as high interest rates and skyrocketing food prices, has resulted in consumers having less and less disposable income available. Meeting one’s monthly expenses has become increasingly difficult for many and necessitated a more prudent approach to managing household expenses.

The beginning of the year brings with it those dreaded ‘annual premium increases’. We all know they’re coming, but are no less effected (or more prepared) when they do finally make their arrival. Although little can be done to avoid them, preventing any further premium hikes during the year is something that can, to a large extent, be managed.

“Being one’s own risk manager, at least in terms of personal and household safety, can go a long way towards managing claim-related premium hikes”, says Lizette Erasmus, manager insurance products at the IntegriSure Insurance Group of companies, an authorised financial services provider offering specialised short-term insurance and other products for niche markets. “Personal security awareness, and knowing what do around the house in the case of an accident, can prevent the insured from having to lodge costly claims and thereby incur additional premium increases.”

General in and around the home safety encompasses many seemingly small issues. Managing them all collectively, however, will undoubtedly make a significant difference to one’s ability to prevent any related mishaps:

Keys

· Limit the number of spare keys you have around the home

· Know exactly who has copies

· Replace locks if keys go missing or are stolen

· Keep keys inside and in an area not visible from the doors or windows

Garage and entrance gates

· Park your car in the garage, if you have one, as this lessens the risk of theft or vandalism

· Fit a remotely activated lock to your garage door and/or entrance gate

· Get in and out of your car in the closed garage

· Ensure that the garage door/gate is open for as short a time as possible or install a sensor to close automatically

Hijack prevention when parking your vehicle

· Check your rear-view mirror to ensure that you are not being followed

· Be on the look out for suspicious vehicles/persons when approaching your driveway

· Turn off your radio when you’re about 2km from home so that you’re more focussed on your environment

· When returning home after dark, ensure that an outside light has been left on or that there is someone there to meet you

· Be aware of ‘blind spots’ or areas that may conceal an intruder (low walls, large plant boxes, etc.)

What to do if you are a victim of driveway robbery

· Do not attempt to confront the attacker, grab your belongings or throw away your car/house keys

· Stay calm and obey the attacker’s commands

· Do not make eye contact with the attacker

· Lie face down on the ground, if possible, as this may result in you not being forced back into the car

Outside your home

· Avoid having large shrubs/hedges in your garden as they provide a place for burglars to hide

· Get to know your neighbours and devise a ‘plan of action’ amongst yourselves in terms of managing any suspicious situations

Around the home

· Always ensure that your home is well protected against fire – install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers/ensure that your complex’s fire management fittings are operational

· Install a burglary alarm system, coupled with an emergency response service, if possible

What to do if your home floods

· Call for professional help as water induced damage, such as damp or bacterial growth, can begin with hours

· Use fans to circulate the air and assist drying, mop up as much water as possible and lift furniture, rugs, etc. out of the water

· Do not use electrical appliances while the carpeting/flooring is wet

· Do not use electrical appliances which have been close to the water without having them checked

· Do not go into rooms with standing water if the electricity is still on

· Do not lift fitted carpeting without professional help as this could promote shrinkage

What to do if there’s been a fire in your home

· Call for professional help

· Cover carpeted areas to prevent further soiling

· Obtain professional help when cleaning treated walls or upholstered furniture

· Do not use electrical appliances which have been close to the fire without having them checked

Tips for daily living

· Take note of the roads you’re using every day – are they safe and well lit, are there any dangerous intersections that you need to be mindful of, are their any taxi routes on you way, etc

· Vary your routes from time to time, where possible

· Vary your departure and arrival times, where possible

· Be aware of your surroundings when leaving your location/getting into and out of your car

· Make a habit of locking your doors as soon as you get inside both your house and your car

Leaving your home unattended for longer periods

· Ask neighbours, family or friends to keep an eye on your house and give them your contact details

· Keep valuable equipment out of sight

· Do not draw the curtains

· Use time switches for lights, radios and televisions (or have someone you trust come in and switch these on/off every day)

· Make sure that your post box is emptied/post picked up from your doorstep every day

Safety whilst travelling

· Never leave your luggage unattended (keep it in clear sight at all times)

· Don’t take anything with you that may offend your destination’s local residents (controversial books, alcohol, etc.)

· Use transfer, rather than taxi, services where possible

· If you’re lost in a foreign city, feign confidence and look as though you know where you’re going

· Don’t look nervous when asking for directions as this will attract attention, always stay calm

· Don’t wear a hip pouch or carry a camera around your neck (place valuables in a bag carried towards the front of your body with the zippers closed)

· Don’t keep all your cash/travellers cheques in one place (keep some in a zipped pocked, some in a handbag, etc.)


“Managing risks, whether they be personal or business, is, ultimately, each individual’s responsibility,” concludes Erasmus. “It makes sense to take even greater care of that which we have during tough economic times; the safety of our selves, loved ones and homes being paramount.”

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