The holidays are the perfect time to lock up your home and go away for a well-deserved break with friends and family. But before you head on your way, make sure you are leaving your beloved home in safe hands and that you've taken all the necessary precautions to safeguard yourself against burglaries and damages. Here are some tips on how to have peace of mind while you are away:
If you are using a house-sitter:
- If you want someone to look after your house, ask a friend or family member to check in while you’re away.
- If you’re using a sitter, always check his/her references.
- Lock your valuable possessions away in a safe place, as well as any personal documents.
- Clarify your house-sitter’s responsibilities upfront and make sure they understand what they will be liable for. E.g. if they forget to switch the alarm on and there is a break-in, then they will be responsible for any losses.
- Remind the sitter to activate your alarm and lock all burglar gates whenever he/she leaves your house. If not, should anything happen, this might result in a claim being rejected.
- Santam provides theft cover when a sitter is looking after your house, however your house contents must be insured.
If you are renting out your home:
Inform your insurer and check the conditions of your insurance policy as to what the requirements are when renting out your home. To protect yourself from vandalism, theft or injury claims from guests, we recommend adding the following additional Santam products:
- Additional liability insurance: Protect yourself from injury claims by adding liability cover to your contents cover. Santam works with specialist underwriters who will cover you from R1 million.
- Limited bed and breakfast cover: if you permanently live in your home and three or less bedrooms are rented out to guests then your home is treated as a B&B and as such you need bed and breakfast cover.
Get more advice on renting out your home in this article.
When locking up and going on your way:
- If there is no-one house-sitting your home this festive season and you plan to lock it up and go, let your security company know as they are often happy to arrange extra security to ensure your house is safe and secure.
- Give your security company a contact number of a friend or family member in case your alarm goes off.
- Arrange for a reliable neighbour, friend or family member to regularly pop round to your house to make sure all is in order.
The final checks before you leave
- Switch off all your lights. You can leave a side lamp on to deter opportunistic crime, as it looks as if someone is home.
- Make sure your house is locked up and secure – every window, bolt and security gate. Hide keys away.
- Test and then make sure that your alarm is switched on.
- Leave curtains and blinds open – nothing reveals that a house is unoccupied so much as curtains drawn during the day.
- Be careful about what you reveal on social media such as Facebook and Twitter – try not to brag about being away on holiday, as you never know who will be seeing this.
- Pack your car behind closed doors, as you don’t want your whole neighbourhood to know that you will be away.
- Switch off your geyser to save electricity.
- Unplug electrical appliances (except your fridge) to protect them against power surges, which could not only damage appliances but also spark a fire.
- Make suitable arrangements for your pets.
Holiday house safety
Owners of holiday homes are often unaware of the true value of the contents or the building of their second property and might forget to insure various items that they bring with them and leave behind. Update your inventory list regularly to ensure everything has been accounted for and insured.
Holiday houses are often high risks if they are left unattended for long periods of time. Here are tips for protecting your investment:
- Ensure you have sufficient security measures such as a monitored alarm system.
- Trust a neighbour with a set of keys to access the property in case of emergency.
- Employ or ask somebody to regularly visit the property, checking for common issues such as leaking taps or a burst geyser.
- Keep maintenance up to date – e.g. garden services – so that your home looks lived in and cared for.
- Install sensor lights to detect unwanted movement.
Santam give you peace of mind
- We give our existing clients extra protection over the holiday season by automatically adding an additional 10% cover on household contents between 15 December and 31 January, at no additional cost.
- Santam SOS services: Santam’s Home Assistance service offers much needed support for emergencies such as plumbing, electrical and locksmith requirements as well as repair work to essential appliances.