Preparing for the unexpected – how to protect your residence

News > Market & Opinion - 16 Jul 2019

The past year has seen an increase in the number of home robberies, with an estimated 156,089 incidents of home robberies being recorded according to the latest Victims of Crime Survey (2017/2018). This effectively amounts to a 3% year-on-year increase compared to 2017.  []

Plans can be put in place to mitigate financial losses when belongings are stolen or damaged during a burglary. This includes the purchase of household insurance to cover all, or some contents of a home in the event of a burglary or other incidents such as vandalism, a fire or a natural disaster.

The monthly premiums payable are calculated based on certain criteria, over-and-above the estimated value of the household contents to be insured, says Vera Nagtegaal, Executive Head of Hippo.co.za.

Measures that are taken to secure the home and its contents do also impact on charges.

“It is important that the insurer knows exactly what precautions are in place,” says Nagtegaal. “Lower monthly instalments are possible, and more likely, if for example the insured customer resides in an estate with access control and on-site guards. Or, if a standalone home is protected by an alarm system coupled with other security products.”

Security systems to enhance safety

The installation of an alarm system is a good start to protecting property, says Fidelity ADT National Marketing and Communications Manager Charnel Hattingh. She says additional components will vary from home to home, because they are dependent on individual needs.

“For some, this can simply entail an alarm system coupled with monitoring and Armed Response. For others, it can mean that the alarm is supported by more sophisticated technology – such as infrared sensors, beams and Closed Circuit Television (CCTV).”

Historically, she says, physical barriers used to deter perpetrators were quite bulky and unattractive, and impacted on the outward aesthetic appearance of the home. Over time, these have been refined aesthetically, and are – in some cases – nearly unnoticeable.

“Outdoor beams and electric-fencing turn gardens and backyards into no-go zones for intruders. Beams are pet-friendly and can be programmed to only detect movement above a certain height, while electric-fencing provides 24-hour security and can withstand harsh weather conditions.”

Hattingh says CCTV has become increasingly more affordable and therefore more popular.

“Basic camera systems are customisable and can be integrated to view footage on-site via a television, or remotely via smartphone, laptop or tablet. An added benefit of CCTV is that recorded footage can be used as evidence in legal proceedings.”

Important considerations

When considering or updating household insurance, home security, or both, it is a good idea to keep the following in mind:

  • It is important to comply with any specific requirements that the insurer has. For example: they may stipulate that only a home alarm system is necessary; or, that the system must be linked to other products or services such as monitoring and armed response.
  • This also applies to vehicle insurance. Risk is measured based on where a car is parked overnight. In a high crime area, the insurer may require that this area be secured by an alarm system that is supported with infrared sensors or beams.
  • Advise the insurer of any security products that are actively used to secure the property. A claim can be rejected if this is found to be the contrary. 
  • Test the alarm system regularly to ensure that all components – including the battery - are in good working condition. If a claim is submitted following a burglary, proof will be required that the system was functioning properly at the time of the incident. If not, and the malfunction is found to be due to negligence, the claim can be rejected.
  • Electricity outages and power surges can affect home security systems.
  • Many private security providers do have contingency plans in place to ensure that their services are minimally impacted during power cuts. They can also advise consumers on back-up measures to ensure that homes remain secured when the power is out; and on how to protect equipment against surges when electricity supply returns.
  • Additionally, it is a good idea to find out from the insurer if extra or alternative insurance is required to cover household contents when power outages and surges do occur.
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