Staying or going? Tips for being safe this festive season
When December rolls around, it’s easy to get caught up in the year-end fever as we all look forward to winding down, taking time off and, hopefully, going away on holiday.
December is also a time where we can ill afford to approach insurance in the same lacklustre manner.
“Whether you’re staying at home, or going away, you need to review your household, vehicle and other insurance policies to ensure that you’re adequately covered,” says Vera Nagtegaal, Executive Head of Hippo.co.za.
Don’t let year-end fever turn you into another statistic
You may be tempted, after one-too-many at the year-end party, to drive home. But, this is an incredibly bad idea. “Not only are you putting your life and that of other road users at risk, you’re also risking not being paid out by your insurance should you be involved in an accident,” stresses Nagtegaal.
“If you’re in no condition to drive, use a taxi service like Uber, Taxify or Good Fellows. You could also have a carpooling arrangement with your colleagues and nominate a designated driver,” she adds.
“Your insurer may also have a designated driver option you can add to your insurance package. It’s bound to be useful in December, and any other time of the year,” says Nagtegaal.
Stay-cation or vacation – keep your home safe
If you plan to go away during the holidays, Nagtegaal says you should try and secure a house-sitter to look after your home. If you don’t, your home could become an easy target for criminals.
You can reduce the likelihood of a home robbery by:
- Asking a friend or family member to house-sit for you
- If you have an alarm, test that it works and the armed response unit in your area reacts timeously
- Fix faulty locks and remote controls
- Make sure motion sensor lights work, as do security cameras if you have them.
“Even if you’re spending the holiday at home, you still want to pay attention to your surroundings,” says Nagtegaal.
Be careful about being followed home and pay attention to anything that may be off when you get to your house. If a light you know you left off is on, or if a door or window is broken, go somewhere safe and call the security company or police.
Always make sure at least one trusted family member or friend knows when you’re home.
For road trips and travel in a foreign country
If you’re going to be driving to your holiday destination, the risk of something happening to you while you’re on the road increases drastically. In December last year, the number of car accidents was up 17% compared to 2015. Fatalities were up 5% for the same period.
“You can do your part by ensuring that you stick to the speed limit. Don’t overload your vehicle, and take a break every two hours to avoid fatigue – especially if you don’t have a fellow driver to relieve you,” says Nagtegaal.
Adventurous road-trippers who will be taking their vehicles out of the country must check whether their insurance covers the country or countries they’re visiting.
Leaving the country also carries certain health-related risks so make sure you’re adequately covered for medical emergencies that may occur while you’re out of the country.
Nagtegaal says you shouldn’t skim over the fine print. “Understand fully what’s covered and what exclusions are part of the insurance policy. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if something is unclear. Choosing your cover based on what you think won’t happen to you is a bad way to go about it.”
“Don’t aim for cheap,” she warns. “It’s important to do your homework on the various options available to ensure that you find the right insurance cover that suits your circumstances, risk profile and your budget.”