Checklist to avoid financial loss this festive season

By: Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa

With the festive season just around the corner, many families have already started planning their local or international vacations. A seemingly small incident can end up cost a small fortune while on holiday, for example, lost luggage, stolen possessions, medical emergencies as well as disasters at home, such as a break-in or burst geyser.

All South Africans planning to take a trip during this school holiday must ensure they have completed the following checks before they depart:

1.Increase your travel insurance limits

Most people do not even think about checking if they have travel insurance in place before embarking on a holiday abroad. Some people are lucky enough to have travel insurance linked to their credit card or airline ticket, but this cover is limited and is often not enough to cover losses for international trips. Imagine you arrive in a foreign destination with no luggage and you only have R1 000 to buy toiletries and clothes to last you for a few days while the airline finds your luggage. Given South Africa’s low currency value, this will not go very far and you’ll be lucky to afford a toothbrush and toothpaste.

2.Check whether you have emergency medical assistance in place

Be sure to check with your medical aid or insurance provider if you have access to medical assistance services and if so, make sure that the emergency contact number is saved on your mobile phone. These service providers are qualified to deal with any medical emergency, from sea rescue to any other type of emergency that requires medical stabilisation and transportation. If you do not have this in place, make sure you enquire.

3.Home preparations before you leave

Unattended homes provide an appealing opportunity for burglars. If you cannot get a house sitter, make it look like someone is home by using timers to set interior or exterior lights. Ask a friend or trusted neighbour to check on your house occasionally and collect your post. If you have visible grass or a garden, make sure you can get someone in to mow the lawn and clean up leaves and other debris.

The last thing that anyone wants is to return from a relaxing holiday to find their home has been broken into. Unfortunately, for some, this situation could easily be worsened by a non-payout of an insurance claim if the alarm wasn’t set properly or in working order. One of the main reasons why home insurance claims are rejected by insurers over the holiday period is due to non-compliance of alarm requirements. Most insurers have different terms and conditions set out in their policies detailing how home owners should maintain their alarms. For example, if a policy requires an alarm to be set whenever the homeowners are not at home and it was not set during the time of an incident, the insurer will not pay the claim. Therefore, it is vital to check your policy for the specific requirements to ensure compliance.

4.Emergency home assist services

Unfortunately, emergencies often happen at the most inopportune time. A burst pipe or overflowing geyser back home can seriously spoil your holiday mood. It is recommended that all geysers and water mains are switched off when leaving the home. However, should an unfortunate event take place at home while you are not there, home assistance services will be able to take emergency remedial actions on your behalf.

5.Ensure the car is in proper roadworthy condition

For those travelling on the road to a local destination, make sure you conduct a full vehicle safety check, ensure roadside assistance numbers are saved on your phone and that all car insurance premiums are paid up-to-date.

Motorists can do simple safety checks to ensure that if something happens on the road they are prepared for it. Should the unfortunate happen and a breakdown or accident occur, it is of the utmost importance to have your emergency roadside assistance and medical assistance numbers on hand.

If the car breaks down or you are involved in a collision, a rental car or emergency accommodation might be needed if you are still far away from your destination, which is why it is important to have your insurer’s details on hand to avoid being stuck in the middle of nowhere.

By following the above advice, holidaymakers can ensure that their vacation does not turn into a traumatic experience in the event of an emergency. As most services are readily available or already provided in existing products, it is important that holidaymakers familiarise themselves with the various benefits available to them.