Common summer insurance claims

Silly season
Summer brings lovely, warmer days and for most of us it is the final stretch to the end of year holidays. As a result, we are more inclined to spend time outdoors in summer, enjoying the warmer summer evenings by going for sundowners or enjoying a braai. Unfortunately, drinking and driving is more prevalent in summer due to increased social activities. As the driver of a vehicle, we have an obligation to ourselves, our family as well as the other people in your car and on the road. The reality of driving while intoxicated and being involved in an accident is that liability falls on the negligent party and as such, your claim may be repudiated if it can be proven that you were driving under the influence of alcohol. A car accident without proper insurance, or where insurance was denied based on gross negligence, can potentially ruin the driver financially. With affordable taxi services like Uber, there really is no excuse for drinking and driving.

It is important to ensure that your personal vehicle insurance is in place to protect yourself in the event of a car accident. In addition, spending more time outdoors means that your home is being left unattended more often, so it’s important to ensure that your household insurance is up to date and sufficient and security measures are in place.

At home
Even when we stay at home, we tend to keep the windows and doors open more this time of year to let in the fresh summer air, especially in the evenings. Make sure that the areas around your house are well-lit and be sure to regularly trim trees and bushes to minimise places where criminal elements can conceal themselves on your property.

Ensure that you are safe by locking all doors, shutting all windows without burglar bars, closing all security gates, and activate beams and alarms in the evening before you go to bed. Burglar bars and security gates are always good deterrents for criminals, so ensure that your house is well-protected.

On holiday
Many people will take their annual leave during the festive season in December and January. Homeowners’ insurance as well as car insurance are important elements to have in place over this time, in case anything happens at home or on the road.

To protect your home while you are away, you need to consider having any of the following (or all) installed to ensure the safety of your home and belongings: Burglar alarm, security lighting like motion detectors, security gates, burglar bars on all windows that open and a safe for all weapons and other valuables like jewellery.

Before you go away, be sure to lock all doors and windows, don’t leave a key on the inside of a door with glass panels and no keys under doormats. Hide or lock away duplicate keys when you’re not using it, don’t leave any tools out for thieves that may help them gain access to your home and keep valuables out of site as far as possible.

Ask your friends or neighbours to look after your home when you’re away. They should park in the driveway, collect your mail and water your garden to give the impression that someone is home. Remember to test your alarm before you go on holiday.

Be cognisant of the fact that social media can give potential criminals unwanted insights into your whereabouts; don’t post your holiday pictures until you return from your holiday and resist announcing on Facebook that you are going away as this may potentially increase the risk of a break-in at your home.

If you’re travelling overseas, you need to consider travel insurance. Mostly, your homeowners insurance will protect your belongings even when you’re travelling but it is best to check your individual policy.

If your travels will be within the borders of South Africa, speak to your broker about local travel insurance. This kind of insurance is very cost effective and normally includes cover for your rental car’s large excess payment.

Pools, trampolines, etc. are potential safety hazards for both your family and friends. Consider increasing your liability cover as there may be exclusions for liability of related injuries for friends and family.

The same counts for boats and other watercrafts like jet skis. Liability coverage may be necessary for the unfortunate case where someone may be injured while on your boat or during water related activities. Aside from coverage needed for property damage to your boat, the other common boat insurance claims include collisions, mast or rig damage, grounding or break-ins. Watercrafts like jet skis often require a separate policy in addition to your homeowners’ insurance.

As with vehicle insurance, negligent operation of a boat or steering while intoxicated can lead to a denial of your claim; always remember that liability falls on the negligent party.