Protect your home this holiday

10 December 2020 Santam

Notwithstanding an unprecedented challenging and demanding year, many South Africans will still be able to take a local road trip or staycation to recharge and re-energise during the holiday season.

If you’re packing your car for a much-needed sho’t left within the next few weeks, it is important you take every precaution to ensure your home and its contents are safe and sound, especially while you’re away.

“Beyond the obvious – testing your alarm, getting a house sitter and telling the neighbours you’re away – there are some smart solutions you can put in place to make your space seem occupied,” says Marius Neethling, manager of personal lines underwriting at Santam, “Additionally, you need to make sure you have adequate insurance and meet all the terms and conditions to receive a full claims pay-out in the event of an incident.”

Here are some of the less obvious ways to keep your ‘castle’ secure.
1. Keep up appearances: To make people think you are home, you may want to pay a cash-short neighbour or friend to periodically pop by, get the mail, open the curtains and switch the lights on for a while. They could even wheel out the wheelie bin on day to really hammer home the fact that you’re on-hand. You may also need to make sure that your lawn is mowed if you will be gone for a long time: arrange with a garden service and ensure that there is someone to supervise.
2. Consider installing globes that have day/night sensors: If you can’t arrange for someone to pop in regularly, you might need to install sensors or a timer to switch on exterior lights in the evening and off during the day. Again, it’s all about maintaining the illusion someone’s home.
3. Keep cool and don’t start an electrical fire: In the past, Santam has received claims for spoilt fridge and freezer contents, due to mechanical and electrical issues or power outages. Before leaving the house, ensure everything is unplugged except for the fridge and freezer which should contain the minimum. Have a contingency plan in place with a neighbour should a power outage happen in your area.

South Africa known for experiencing unscheduled load shedding that may affect your alarm system leaving your house vulnerable. Ensure your alarm battery is in a good working condition. Additionally, ensure you’ve ticked all the boxes you need to in order to receive a full claims pay-out. Underinsurance can be financially devastating should disaster strike. So, ensure that you have the correct cover for your property and valuables.

Here Neethling outlines some of the common misunderstandings around household contents insurance that could result in claims being rejected or not paid in full.
• Many people are unaware that they are underinsured: Imagine a scenario in which you insured your contents for R200 000 but the new replacement value for all the items is R400 000. So you only receive 50% of the amount you claimed for. To avoid this happening, make sure the sum you insured your house contents for reflects their new replacement value. Remember, you will need to provide reasonable proof of ownership to substantiate your claim, either in the form of a proof of purchase, valuation certificates or photographs, as specified by your insurer.
• You need to comply with the security requirements of your policy: If your insurance policy has a requirement that stipulates that you need burglar bars, this will be compulsory. The material circumstances to the loss or damage of every situation is individually assessed so always make sure that you adhere to the requirements stipulated in your policy.
• House contents coverage has limitations: Household contents insurance provides cover for property inside the home or temporarily in the places mentioned in the insurance policy wording. Make sure you’re aware of all the terms and conditions applicable to be correctly covered when going on holiday.

To calculate the new replacement value of household items, use an online inventory calculator or hire a qualified evaluator. Reappraise the items annually.

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