Beware insurance pitfalls while partaking in outdoor activities or at gym

29 October 2012 MUA Insurance Acceptances

As summer draws closer, more people will be spending time outdoors or going to gym to get into shape, though increasingly these people forget to take the appropriate measures to protect their possessions while they partake in their favourite physical pastimes, potentially placing themselves at risk of insurance claim repudiations.

This is according to Christelle Fourie, Managing Director of MUA Insurance Acceptances, who says she has noticed an increasing number of claims from outdoor sports or fitness enthusiasts for items ranging from mobile phones to motor vehicles that have been lost, damaged or stolen while the client is at the gym, on an outdoor trail run or out surfing. “Unfortunately, when due care is not taken to protect belongings the claim is most likely to be repudiated.”

Fourie says by following a few simple rules and taking due care to ensure possessions remain safe, consumers can mitigate the likelihood of having their claim rejected.

Vehicles left unattended

It has become a common practice for people who participate in outdoor sports activities to park their motor vehicles in unattended holding places and leave the keys to their motor vehicles on the car wheel as the driver does not want to carry their keys with them while they are out surfing, mountain climbing or performing multiple outdoor activities, says Fourie.

“This practice is simply not acceptable as the owner is not taking due care and would therefore face the risk of having their claim rejected should their motor vehicle be stolen, as a result of the keys being left on a vehicle’s wheel. Some insurers even stipulate in the motor policy exclusions that theft cover of the vehicle is excluded if the ignition keys are left in or on the vehicle.”

She advises consumers to rather reduce the number of keys on their key ring by only having the motor vehicle key in their possession while they partake in an outdoor activity and to ensure they have a pocket in which the one key can be safely stored. “Consumers could use shoe laces or a safety pin to attach the key to their clothing if they have no pocket. An alternative solution is to store the key in a locked box - that uses a combination code to lock to avoid the hassle of an additional key - which can be fitted to the vehicle.”

For water sports enthusiasts, there is the option of a waterproof smartphone case that can hold and protect car keys, mobile phones or other small valuables from water so they can take their possessions with them, says Fourie.

Protecting valuables during a workout

“There has also been a noticeable increase in the number of claims received from gym users and other indoor sports participants who have left their valuables unattended in changing rooms while they are conducting their exercise or sport, and when they return they are shocked to discover the items are gone,” says Fourie.

Unfortunately once again, their claims are likely to be rejected if due care was not taken to store and lock the items in a locker that was provided by the facility, she says. “It is vital to ensure that car keys are also locked away in the locker as there have been reported cases of motor vehicles that have been stolen when the motor vehicle’s keys have been left lying in the changing room.”

Fourie says when selecting a locker to use it is a good idea to rather choose one located in a high traffic area, such as near the showers or entrance, as anyone trying to break into a locker are more likely to opt for an isolated locker to avoid drawing attention. “As an added security measure, place a lock on the gym bag within the locked locker or store items that are not necessarily needed - such as a laptop or iPad - in the boot of the locked motor vehicle rather than bringing the item into the gym or sports centre.”

Fourie says valuable items are typically covered by an All Risks policy under the general or specified cover, depending on the item in question. “However, because each insurer writes this risk in different categories it is advisable for consumers to speak to their broker who can explain exactly how their personal belongings are covered under their policy, to ensure they fully understand how their cover works.”

“When it comes to protecting personal belongings while partaking in physical activities, it is important to remain vigilant of one’s surroundings, review the situation and take extra care to protect personal belongings to avoid a claim rejection,” concludes Fourie.

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