Be vigilant, don’t give away too much this holiday season

Johannesburg – The December holiday period is generally a time when most businesses close, enabling families to regroup and celebrate the holidays as a unit and engage in family activities.

However, the contrary is true for crime in South Africa. Generally, criminal activities like hijackings, robberies and housebreakings tend to reach a peak during this time of the year.

The South African Insurance Association (SAIA) would like to encourage the public and policyholders to be extra vigilant and take due care in all their activities for their safety and that of others.

“Securing your assets through adequate insurance cover is something within your control and is your safety net should an insured event occur. As you prepare to go on holiday and are excited to meet friends and family members, bear in mind that there could be someone waiting to take advantage of your unoccupied property and help themselves to your hard-earned belongings. It is vital that you ensure that your belongings are protected from any possible physical risks or exposures before you go on holiday,” says Susan Walls, Insurance Technical Advisor at SAIA.

Walls says consumers can achieve this by speaking to your broker or insurer who can assist in identifying any possible short-falls and how you can avoid them.

Pamela Ramagaga, GM: Insurance Risks says we rarely check the contents of our wallets and purses or handbags before we go on holiday. “If we did, one would be amazed at the amount of personal information contained in it that should not really be in a wallet or hand-bag.

“When going on holiday, always ensure that your wallet only has carefully considered contents. Carry only those bank cards you will need to use. Avoid carrying identity documents and passports if you are not crossing the border. A good form of identity is your valid driver’s licence or the new ID card.

Exercise extra care when it comes to electronic or online purchases, as this is where a great deal of identity theft normally takes place, both online and in-store. Also, closely monitor your bank accounts and credit card activity throughout the holiday period just in case you pick up an anomaly. Ensure that the websites you log into our secure websites and always log off after completing your purchase” says Ramagaga.

Ramagaga says that there is an increasing number of property owners who earn an additional income through letting out rooms or their entire flat or home during the holiday season for commercial gain. “It is vital that they engage their insurer or broker before embarking on this exercise to understand the risks and consider appropriate action in the form of additional cover or a change of insurance cover to a hospitality-type or commercial-type of cover.

“Remember that letting rooms in your property considerably increases your risk of loss or damage, and you are exposed to liability claims from paying guests or visiting third parties. However, be conscious of the fact that you are not automatically responsible for injuries to people living in your house, and you shouldn’t accept blame before discussing the matter with your broker or insurer,” she concludes.

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