Secure and Insure your holiday home

If you’ve just crowned a great holiday at the end of last year with the purchase of a second home or weekend getaway, one of the first things you need to do is make sure that it is just as well-secured as your primary residence – and properly insured.
So says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group, who notes: “Security awareness tends to slip whenever we’re on holiday, relaxing and taking a break from our everyday stresses, but the unfortunate truth is that criminals never relax, and in order not to become a victim, you need to be just as well protected at your leisure home as you are at home.
“In addition, criminals will quickly notice any pattern of ‘occasional occupation’ of a property that you perhaps only visit during school holidays, or every second weekend, so you also need to guard against the property being burgled or vandalised when you are not there – especially if it is a freehold house in a holiday spot where many of the surrounding houses are also infrequently occupied.”
Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, he also points out that if you haven’t taken adequate steps to secure your holiday home, you may find that your insurers won’t pay out in the event of any claim, and suggests that owners do the following as soon as possible:
* Install an alarm and an external and internal electronic surveillance system linked to the operations room of a security company that will respond promptly to any attempted break-in, and that you trust to gain access to the property and reset the system if necessary;
* Fit strong burglar bars, security gates and door locks. Outside locks should be minimum of four lever locks or double cylinder security locks, and don’t forget to put heavy-duty bolts on the garage door;
* Check regularly to make sure there is no damage to the perimeter wall or fencing and that there are no overhanging branches or other easy points of access to your property;
* Hire a garden service if necessary to ensure that the property is kept tidy and doesn’t become overgrown;
* Remove the postbox so junk mail cannot build up in your absence, and redirect any real correspondence to do with your holiday home to your permanent address;
* If it is a large property, consider employing a full-time caretaker.
Such measures, says Everitt, will have the additional advantage of keeping your insurance premiums down, which is an important issue, considering that these are already likely to be higher than those for your primary residence unless the leisure property does have a permanent occupant.
“Then you need to make sure that you have cover for the structure as well as the contents of your holiday home, so that you are protected against the effects of fire, storm, flood and subsidence as well as possible theft of or damage to any furniture, appliances and garden, braai and sports equipment kept on the property.
“And finally, you should check that your policy includes proper cover for the clothing, electronics and any other valuables you and any guests may bring with you on holiday.”

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