Tips to protect your possessions this festive season

It is once again that time of year when families and businesses start packing up for holidays or closing for the festive season. As families and businesses start to vacate their homes and premises over the festive season there is often a spike in criminal activities, particularly burglaries, as criminals capitalise on the many vacant buildings and houses.  

This is according to Sean Pretorius, COO at Risk Benefits Solutions (RBS), one of South Africa’s largest independent insurance and risk specialists, who says that the insurance industry tends to witness a spike in claims over this period as people fall prey to petty crimes and burglary as premises are left unattended as people go on holiday, or from general negligent behaviour. 

“We find that clients go into ‘holiday mode’ over the festive season, and become less aware of possible petty crimes and burglaries. This is however the time of year when people need to be extra careful at all times due to the rise in such activity,” says Pretorius. 

The South African Insurance Crime Bureau (SAICB) last week warned South Africans and tourists to be more attentive when it comes to crime. Hugo van Zyl, COO of the SAICB, was quoted saying that people are either more relaxed at this time of the year, or are simply in a rush and not paying sufficient attention to the risk of criminal activity.

Pretorius provides a check list to ensure greater protection and peace of mind over the festive season:

Protection against theft:

  • Be aware of car jamming: Remote jamming of vehicles is still very prevalent in South Africa, and people need to remain vigilant when locking their vehicle. Insurance policies will not cover loss incurred from such an instance given there is no forcible entry into the vehicle. 
  • Be conscious of your belongings on holiday: Don’t leave personal belongings unattended while on outings, or on show in vehicles. 
  • Review insurance policies to include new items: Contact your broker to verify the terms of your policy to ensure it is up to date, and that you are adequately insured. For example, check that any new expensive festive season gifts or purchases are included in the cover. 
  • Travelling abroad: Ensure that adequate travel insurance cover is purchased when traveling as a cheaper policy could potentially turn out to be more costly should the unexpected happen. When purchasing travel cover, travellers should consider the risks associated to the destination, and purchase the type of cover needed to protect the individual and/or their family when going on holiday to this destination. 

Safeguarding a premise:

  • Pack away valuable items so that passers-by can’t see them from the street.
  • Alert someone to your absence: Have contact details of at least two responsible and trustworthy people nearby that you can contact quickly in case of an emergency, and leave your keys with a trustworthy friend or family member instead of hiding a spare key on the property.
  • Don’t advertise that you will be away on social media platforms: Some may see your absence as an opportunity.  
  • Portray that someone is home: Ask a friend or neighbour to collect the post from the premise, and install a timer for your lights as to give the impression that there is someone checking on the house or house sitting.
  • Secure the property: Ensure all windows and doors are securely locked, and that the security alarm is working properly. The security company should also have updated contacted details.
  • Prepare for possible power and outages: While the country hasn’t experience load shedding in a couple of months, this occurrence should still be taken into consideration when leaving your property unattended. Unplug appliances that are not in use and check all electrical equipment to ensure there are no overloaded plug sockets as this can be a fire hazard during periods of load shedding. Also ensure the alarm battery is in its optimal workable conditions to guarantee it remains working should a power outage occur while you are away.