The Insurance Council of NZ (ICNZ) is urging people to stay safe this summer after an analysis of claims data showed that January is the busiest period of the year for burglaries.

According to the data from 2017 and 2018, January is the busiest time of year for domestic contents claims, with more claims coming in during January 2017 and January 2018 than at any other time during the two years. On average, 76 customers will have their homes burgled each day in January. Over the month, insurers will provide around $6.1 million of support to their customers.

January has also been one of the busiest periods in the last couple of years for car break-ins, with an average of around 1,000 claims made per month in January 2017 and January 2018. Insurers spend $3.8 million each January helping customers replace things stolen from their vehicles.

ICNZ Chief Executive, Tim Grafton, says that by taking some simple steps to protect their homes and vehicles, people can greatly increase their chances of having a stress-free holiday period.

“These spikes in claims data show that this is a busy time of year for crooks looking to benefit from people’s Christmas shopping and their summer holidays,” said Grafton. “By being conscious of how they secure their property and cars and manage their Christmas purchases, people can reduce the likelihood they’ll be the target of an opportunistic Christmas thief.”

“Insurance can help with damaged homes and vehicles and lost contents, but it can’t take away the stress all those things can cause. By planning ahead and being safety conscious, people can help themselves have a safer, happier holiday period.”

Tips to secure your home and contents

  • Don’t leave boxes for large or expensive gifts in the driveway for collection – this advertises what new possessions you have to potential-thieves. Store them out of sight and take them to the recycling plant yourself when you get time.
  • 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 leave a message on your home answering machine or on public internet pages (including social media) saying that you’re going away on holiday.
  • Don’t leave valuables on display or easily visible from windows. Be aware of where you place your Christmas tree and whether 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 have to 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 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.
  • Register your valuable possessions on www.snap.org.nz, the NZ Police’s free, online asset list. If you are robbed, having your possessions registered on Snap will make it easier for the Police to track them down. It’ll also help when you make a contents insurance claim.

Tips to secure your vehicle

  • Install an alarm and immobiliser. Bonus: Some insurers offer premium discounts to customers with immobilisers installed.
  • Park your car in the garage or off the street. If you have to park on the street, park under a street lamp or in another well-lit area to deter burglars.
  • Install sensor lights over your driveway if you can’t park your car in a garage. Make sure they light up the area around your car.
  • Empty your car out each time you get out of it. Bags, boxes, window mounts for car accessories and other things left in the car are tempting for thieves.
  • Lock your car any time it’s unattended. This one seems obvious but it’s important, even when you’re halfway through unloading it in the driveway and only popping inside for a minute.
  • Buy a steering lock and fit it to your car whenever you park it. It may not stop your car from being broken into but it will make it much harder to steal.

Holiday insurance tips

  • Let your insurance company know if you are going to be away from your house for a long period, if you have friends staying in your home while you’re away or if you are planning to list your home with services such as Airbnb or Bookabach.
  • Check your house, contents and vehicle policies are up-to-date and not due to run out over the holiday period. 
  • Check whether you’re covered for under 25s or unnamed drivers before you let someone else drive your car. If you’re not and they have an accident, your insurance may not cover it.
  • 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.
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