This story was first published on 11 December 2017 and was updated on 14 December 2018 by Leigh Hermon.
As the excitement of heading off for some much needed R&R sets in, take some time out from the shopping, travel arrangements and last minute work wrap-ups to secure your home, assets and loved ones before you head off for the holidays.
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Criminals never take a break, usually targeting the holiday season to ply their trade. Aon South Africa, insurance brokerage and risk advisors have developed a handy holiday checklist to help keep your risks to a minimum and your holidays joyful.
1. Pay attention to your security
Test your alarm and armed response if you have, replace batteries in all passive alarm sensors, make sure door magnets are working, check your electric fence for any broken or faulty strands and clear any branches or plants that could set it off in error. Ensure that opening doors and windows are properly secured. Don’t leave this to the last minute – it’s a busy time of year for contractors so if you do need something repaired, leave some time to get it done before you go.
2. Plan to drive overseas?
If you’re travelling abroad or to neighbouring countries, ensure that driver’s licences are valid. Check the territorial limits of your motor insurance cover regarding cross-border requirements – some countries insist on license papers or proof of insurance for your vehicle.
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3. Have you got a house sitter?
Appoint a reputable house sitting service to switch on lights, feed and take care of your pets, clear post boxes, water plants and put out rubbish bins on collection day – and inform you of any problems. Leave a spare set of keys, as well as a contact address and phone number in the case of an emergency, such as a power failure, fire, burglary, burst geyser or resetting your alarm.
4. Hitting the road these holidays?
Do a vehicle and trailer inspection, check that your cars and trailers are roadworthy and properly licensed. Test your vehicle’s tracking device.
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5. Check the mains
Lock the mains box outside your property (burglars may trip this in the hope your alarm and fence batteries run flat), lock away garden implements and tools that can be used to force open any doors or windows.
6. Leave the lights on
Pay attention to outside lighting by including day-night sensors or motion sensor lights and replacing any blown bulbs.
7. Pay your utility bills
Pay the water and lights bill to avoid a power or water cut while on holiday.
8. Keep your valuables safe
Immobilise any vehicles that are left behind and place any weapons, valuables and important documents in a safe or a bank safety deposit box.
9. Check your insurance cover
Arrange insurance cover on your expensive Christmas gifts such as jewellery, tech gadgets, appliances and so on – you can even inform your broker before you purchase the gifts so that you know when you leave the store, your items are covered. Check that all the items travelling with you such as tablets, cell phones, cameras, designer sunglasses, luggage and so on are covered under the All Risks insurance section on your household contents policy – it’s important to insure all items that you take away with you. Also, when on holiday, be extra vigilant – holiday chalets are often targeted by burglars while you’re out and about as people often let their guards down and leave doors unlocked and windows open. There’s no fun in coming back from the beach to find your valuables, cash and bank cards stolen.
10. Pause your subscriptions
Cancel or pause your subscriptions to newspapers and other regular deliveries and arrange with a house sitter to clear your post box every day. Remember that social media feeds can increase your risk of break-ins, so don’t advertise the fact that you are on holiday. Hide the tell-tale signs that no one is home.
11. Keep important contact numbers with you
Take the number of your 24-hour Incident Management Centre with you and leave details with a neighbour. Check that your insurance details and premiums are up to date. Take medical aid details/card with and save the number of your insurance broker on your phone. It’s also a good idea to have your 24-hour breakdown assist on quick dial.
12. Protect yourself against lightning strikes and possible power outages
Disconnect computers, TV’s and other lightning sensitive equipment including TV aerials, this will also help save on utility bills. Unload the fridge or freezer to avoid deterioration of perishable items in the event of a power failure.
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