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10 safety and risk tips this holiday season

Holiday vibes are in the air! As you plan for some quality relaxation this holiday season, it’s important to consider some important safety and risk management measures to ensure there are no surprises during your much-needed break. 

Ann Cloete of insurance brokerage and risk adviser Aon South Africa offers a list of the top holiday pre-planning tips.

“It’s important to do some pre-holiday planning when it comes to your personal insurances, to ensure your assets are covered and that you know whom to contact in the event of an incident,” she says.

Aon’s top tips for the holidays:

  1. Check the cover on your policies
    Review your insurance policies – health, home, contents and motor insurance – to understand exactly what coverage is provided. Take note of any added-value benefits included in your cover such as roadside assistance, home assistance benefits and the like. Save the telephone numbers of your insurance broker’s claims department and emergency assistance, so that if you need assistance, you have these at hand.
  2. Travelling with valuables?
    Take note of any items you plan to take with you on holiday such as laptops, sporting equipment, cellular phones, cameras etc. and check that these items are specified under the ‘All Risks’ section of your insurance policy for cover outside of your home. Remember that household contents cover means just that – contents that stay within the home. When an item is taken out of your home, it ceases to be covered under your household content. Plan your shopping trips and talk to your broker beforehand about putting cover in place for your new purchases before you even leave the store.
  3. Medical and healthcare
    No one plans for a medical emergency, but it is better to ensure you are covered if it happens. Confirm with your medical aid provider what cover you have, especially if you are travelling outside South African borders. Check to see which hospitals and medical professionals are approved on your medical scheme’s network of providers close to your place of stay. Speak to your broker about travel insurance for added medical coverage if travelling overseas. Make sure you have medical emergency numbers loaded on your phone, both at home and at your holiday destination.
  4. Driving abroad
    If you plan to rent a vehicle at your destination, you will need to take coverage for the vehicle through the rental agency. Check the terms and conditions and your responsibilities in respect of the contract and make sure your driver’s licence is recognised in the country to which you are travelling.
  5. Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is especially important for an international trip, by providing you with medical cover in addition to trip cancellations or curtailment, delays and lost luggage cover. Read the fine print to understand the terms and conditions of your cover, including any exclusions or limitations. Stay informed of any travel advisories or alerts. Make note of emergency contact numbers in the area in which you are staying, and save these on your phone in case there is a coverage outage and you need to have access to the information offline.
  6. Documentation
    Keep copies of your official documentation, travel bookings, insurance policies and important contact numbers in a safe place. Also, store these in the cloud so that you can access them from any location.
  7. Adventure activities
    If you are planning special excursions during your holidays such as scuba diving, skiing or bungee jumping, confirm whether your insurance provides cover for these activities. Some life insurance policies may require additional cover or may exclude extreme sports entirely.
  8. Emergency evacuation
    Do you have an emergency evacuation plan in place in the event of something going wrong in your destination country, for example civil war, health risks, floods etc. Confirm with your travel insurance provider if this is included in your cover.
  9. At home
    Make sure your home is prepared for power and water outages. If possible, arrange for a house sitter or trusted neighbour to take care of any unforeseen circumstances, to switch on lights, clear post boxes of mail, water plants and put out rubbish bins on collection day – and to let you know if there’s a problem. If not possible, try to empty your fridge and switch off the electric geyser but, if you have a solar geyser or heat pump, check with your qualified installer first before switching anything off – some systems have built-in ‘holiday protection’ and ‘anti-boil’ functions, and in some instances switching your system off can cause overheating and damage to your system.

    Arm your alarm and make sure you have battery backup on alarms and electric fences, as some policies may exclude cover should your alarm fail to activate due to a lack of power supply. It is recommended you speak to your broker to check the terms and conditions of your alarm warranty. If you are making use of a housesitting service, ensure they are aware of safety and security measures in your home and any emergency numbers they could potentially need while in your home. Also, make sure a trusted person has access to your homeowner’s insurance policy and claim details in the event of an emergency. You may also need to inform your insurer of any measures such as these, to facilitate any claim.
  10. Renting out your holiday home?
    If you are capitalising on the ‘sharing economy’ and renting out your home over the holiday season, speak to your broker about liability and damage risks to make sure your insurance covers are correctly scoped.

“Safety always comes first, no matter where you go locally or abroad. With our fast-paced lifestyles and the demands made on our time during the year, make sure your checks and balances are done and that your insurance policies are current and up to date so that the only thing you need to worry about this holiday is your rest and relaxation. Speak to your insurance broker today. Once sorted, all that remains is to have the happiest of holidays,” Cloete concludes.

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