Christmas Kirihimete is unfortunately a time of year when empty homes, full cars and perhaps being off our guard while staying away means more opportunities for burglaries and accidental loss or damage. While insurance can often cover much of what’s lost, there’s a lot we can do to prevent the heartbreak and hassle of losing it in the first place.
“Contents insurance not only covers us if we’re burgled, but for accidental damage or for major events like fires, earthquakes and floods,” says ICNZ Chief Executive Tim Grafton. “It often also covers you for accidental damage to someone else’s property, say if you were to knock over a poorly placed BBQ, or damage someone else’s property at a campground.”
Unfortunately, Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) Te Kāhui Inihua o Aotearoa data show that about one in three do not have contents insurance.
Contents insurance is also important if things are stolen from your car when on holiday. For instance, if someone smashed the glass in your car to steal your camping gear, then the car would be covered by your motor policy, but the stolen tent by your home contents cover.
There’s lots you can do to keep your things secure over the festive season. At home, don’t advertise on social media that you are, or will be, away and try to leave your home looking lived in by having neighbours clear your mailbox and keeping an eye on your home. Fit an alarm and keep valuables out of sight. Security cameras are increasingly affordable and are a great deterrent.
If you’re lucky enough to be going away for 60 days or more, let your insurer know as your policy might need adjusting; likewise, if others will be staying in your home. Also check your policy so you know if what you’re taking with you, or property belonging to others, is covered.
“Every Christmas, insurers pay out to put things right following thefts loss and damage. No matter how smooth the claims process might be, it’ll never be as relaxing as not having to claim in the first place and keeping your possessions,” says Tim.
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Notes to Editors – anti-theft tips
Burglary prevention tips:
- Make sure your home always looks lived in even when you’re away. Ask neighbours you trust to water your plants and clear your mailbox and set your lights or TV to go on and off in the evening on timers.
- Never publicise that you’re going away on holiday, that includes on your social media, email out of office messages or on your answer phone.
- Don’t leave valuables on display or easily visible from windows. Think about where you place your Christmas tree and if it, and the presents under it, can be seen from your front windows.
- Have an alarm installed; many insurers offer premium discounts for properties that have alarms.
- Install automatic security lighting. Lights that come on when they sense movement are a good choice for external areas. Don’t place sensors for lights low enough that they can easily be tampered with.
- Lock garages and sheds, put away wheelie bins and trim plants and trees near doors and windows. This removes tools burglars can use to break in and places they can hide.
- Close and lock all doors and windows when you’re out and while you’re asleep. If you must leave windows open, make sure they’re on tamper-proof security locks.
- Install security cameras or webcams in easy-to-spot locations. You can connect most cameras to your phone wirelessly so you can see what’s happening at your house wherever you are.
- Don’t run electrical cords through open-windows or doors to outdoor light displays. Open doors and windows are tempting for burglars. Have an electrician install an outdoor socket instead.
- Don’t leave boxes for large or expensive gifts in the driveway for rubbish collection – this advertises what new possessions you have to potential-thieves. Take them to the tip yourself.
- Mark items such as power tools with your driver licence number so the Police can return them to you if they are stolen then recovered.
Holiday insurance tips:
- Let your insurance company know if you are going to be away from your house for 60 days or more or have friends staying in your home while you’re away or if you’re listing your home with services such as Airbnb or bookabach.
- Check your house and contents policies are up-to-date and not due to run out over the holiday period.
- If you’re heading away camping, check with your insurer to make sure your contents will be covered when you take them to the campsite. And, if you have a campervan either take out campervan contents insurance or check if your existing home and contents policies provide cover for your campervan contents.
- Consider turning the water off to dishwashers, washing machines and some fridges to prevent a flood from going undetected while you’re away.
- Make a detailed list of possessions, including serial/model numbers and photos. Keep this with a copy of your policy somewhere separate to your possessions.
- Mark big ticket items with a code or name to prove ownership. If these marks are hard to remove, they may also deter thieves.
- Review your cover after Christmas to ensure any new valuables you may have been gifted are covered.