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Tick off your household insurance this festive season

Sunblock? Tick. Beach umbrella? Tick. Treats for the family? Tick. But have you checked your insurance policy as part of your festive season preparation? ooba, South Africa’s largest bond originator, shares vital tips that could save you insurance headaches this holiday. 

The festive season is one of the most expensive periods of the year. If you do not ensure that you have the correct insurance cover in place, or that your monthly premiums are paid up, you could be left destitute and out of pocket during an unforeseen event, as the insurers have the right to decline a claim. While the extra paperwork may not be high on your festive priority list, it is an important precaution, as no one likes coming home to a burst geyser, or a damaged property as a result of bad renters.
 
This is the view of Craig Young, managing executive for oobainsure, who says that homeowners should take care not to underinsure their properties and contents. 
 
“Where a claim occurs and the property and or its contents are not insured correctly the insurer will apply ‘average’ to the claim, which is based on what they believe to be the true replacement cost of the property at the time of the claim.  This means that if you are under insured, you could end up having to pay for a significant portion of the claimed value yourself.”
 
Before going on holiday, he advises that you ensure that your house insurance premium is paid and that you are familiar with your policy so that you have sufficient cover in place, whether for accidents or theft.
 
“If you are going away for an extended period of time, leave a spare set of keys with a trusted person, such as a family member or neighbour, with your contact details. They can assist you to switch on lights, feed pets, clear post boxes, water plants and keep the lawn cut while you’re away. In case of an emergency such as a burst geyser, power failure or resetting your alarm, that person can be there to assist.”

If renting out your property during the festive period, Young says that there is the genuine chance of damage to the house or its contents, which may only be discoverable upon your return. In addition, your risk profile increases as soon as the property starts earning income, and this could affect your insurance.
 
“As a property owner, ensure that you have sufficient Liability cover, as well as cover for accidental breakage. Obtain a healthy deposit from the renter as well as all of their personal details. Most importantly, inform your insurance company that you will be renting out your property. The insurer will review the policy for the duration of the tenant’s stay and underwrite the risk appropriately,” he says.
 
To be on the safe side, take the necessary precautions before handing over the keys to renters, such as locking away valuables, securing the mains box outside your property and making sure that vehicles left behind are immobilized and keys are hidden away.
 
Below Young explains what you should make sure you are covered for before the festive season starts, depending on whether you are going away, if you are entertaining at home, or renting out your home:

Buildings insurance: This is one of the most important policies you will purchase. It covers the structure of your home and its permanent fixtures and fittings in case of unexpected events, such as fire, floods and lightning. If your geyser bursts, whether you are at home or away, this policy will cover the costs of repair and damages. 
 
Content insurance: Valuable assets inside your home, such as TVs, HiFis, DVD machines and computers are covered in the event of theft, water or fire damage. Do a realistic valuation when you request an insurance quote because if you under-value the contents, there will be a shortfall in your pay-out.
 
Liability insurance: If your friends or family are visiting or you are entertaining at home and an unforeseen incident occurs, this type of cover indemnifies you up to the amount insured, provided you are found legally liable in a South African court of law.
 
He also recommends additional cover such as Power Surge which covers the fridge, freezer and other electrical items such as electric gate motors and electric fencing while you are away.
 
“Lastly, if you are outsourcing services such as entertainment, catering, waiting staff or cleaning, it is crucial that homeowners take the time to ensure that the supplier is licensed and insured. If possible, use a service provider that has the required workers’ compensation insurance that covers their staff during an event, so that you don’t have to worry about this responsibility,” concludes Young.


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