News Release

2015

Spring Cleaning Your Insurance Covers

Time to dust off and reflect on your insurance policies

Everyone seems to have a spring in their step as the grass is greening and the trees are blossoming. As you embark on the time honoured ritual of spring cleaning your home and garden, it provides the perfect opportunity for you to ensure that your home is safe, your insurance policies are up to date and that you have the right-sized cover in place.

In some cases only minor tweaks to your policy might be needed while in other scenarios you may need to take your insurance covers back to the drawing board to properly protect your assets.

Mandy Barrett of insurance brokerage and risk advisors Aon South Africa provides the following advice on ways to spring clean your insurance covers to perfectly conform to your specific needs:

  • Check whether your household and content insurance policy reflects any recent changes/additions that were made to your home or its contents. Has the value of your home increased as a result of renovations or an extension? Have you added a solar solution or a generator?
  • While you are reviewing costs, check that your insured values are updated. Thanks to the rise in property replacement costs, your home could be significantly under-insured in the event of a major catastrophe such as a fire, earthquake, a flood and the like. Make sure that you know what it would cost to replace the actual structure of your home at today's prices and that your policy will cover any additional costs such as demolition, rubble removal, architectural fees, fire brigade charges and public authorities' requirements.
  • Make sure that your home complies with the minimum security requirements that are set out in your insurance policy. If your policy specifies that any opening windows or doors have to be secured with burglar bars and security gates, make sure that it is the case and that these items are added to additions that you make to your home.
  • Many homeowners insurance policies are comprehensive policies providing cover in almost any eventuality, while others may have specified perils cover. It is always a good idea to enlist the aid of an accredited broker to ensure that you have no surprises waiting for you at claims stage. For example: What does your policy say about a break in during load shedding? What about hail damage? Flooding?
  • Spring cleaning provides the perfect opportunity to spot potential maintenance issues - which is important - as a lack of maintenance could be a problem if there was an insurance claim. Maintenance is generally excluded under all homeowners insurance policies. In addition, property owners are expected to take reasonable measures to prevent loss. This would apply to issues such as blocked gutters that could potentially cause a flooding, or adding a strip of paving around the perimeter of your home to prevent damp.
  • Minimise your home's risk of fire by cleaning out the clutter, addressing any electrical issues or trimming back branches of trees that are too close to your home, such as palm trees. Check that all your smoke detectors are operational, service fire extinguishers if necessary and ensure that you have a fire escape door added to your burglar bars in the event of a fire.
  • If you have more than one building at a particular address such as a granny flat, is each building listed separately and accounted for in terms of insured values for both the building and contents?
  • Update your home inventory or asset register – have you accumulated new electronics, clothes, computers, jewellery and other assets? The task of spring cleaning provides the perfect opportunity to ensure that your home inventory list is accurate and that new items are included under your cover, while items you no longer own are removed.
  • Insure the contents of your entire house, not just what you think may be stolen in a burglary. If you are under-insured, you may find yourself in a situation where you are only paid partially for a loss at claims stage. Insurers call it the 'average formula' which means that if your property or household content is under-insured by 40% for example, they may only pay you 60% of your claim.
  • Make sure that your art, antiques and collectables are correctly insured - in most cases prestige art collections are unique and cannot be replaced, which lends itself to a different set of criteria when it comes to assessing the insurable value of these items. Speak to your broker to ensure that these items are correctly covered and obtain valuation certificates at least once a year.
  • Don't overlook your all risks cover – make sure that those items that you may take out of your home from time to time – cameras, laptops, sunglasses, cell phones, peddle bikes and the like are appropriately specified under your 'all risks' section of your policy. To this end, valuation certificates are crucial for items such as jewellery, which should be updated at least every two years to ensure that you are correctly covered.
  • Always make a point of reading all the clauses, warranties and conditions on your insurance policy and if you are unsure of anything, speak to your broker for clarity. Make sure you comply with the insurer's requirements to make sure you are covered.
  • Also remember that your insurer may also send you regular updates to your existing policy, so make sure you read these and implement where necessary. Any updates will super cede existing clauses in your policy so make sure you pay attention to their content.
  • Make sure your contact details are up to date, including postal address, contact telephone numbers and email address so that you don't miss out on communications.

The services of a professional broker could well prove to be invaluable in evaluating your property and household content insurance policies. "A professional broker will be able to facilitate the making of a well-managed insurance programme that accounts for your unique needs and risk profile, while matching your available budget. Your broker will ensure that there are no surprises waiting for you at claim stage and will be able to confirm exactly what you are covered for and whether any exclusions or special conditions exist on your policy," concludes Mandy.

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Tom Hatcher 7 Jun 2014 14:58 Comments Policy
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Sandy Smith 25 May 2014 11:44 Comments Policy
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John Smith 12 May 2014 17:09 Comments Policy
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