Consumers urged to remember household insurance this festive season

'Tis the season to be jolly, but make sure that amidst all the celebrations, you don't forget to be sensible too. Having household insurance can save you many headaches during the upcoming holiday period.

Long days spent by the pool, thunderstorms, relaxing braais with friends and family, watermelon slices and strawberries, opening presents and enjoying festivities – these are some of the things that South Africans associate with the festive season. And while it's great to be on holiday, it's also important that you don't neglect to keep yourself covered in terms of accidents and other eventualities.

Imagine coming home from holiday to find your geyser has burst, the house has been robbed or you've lost your house keys. Consider the cost of replacing tiles if hail the size of golf balls has pummelled your roof. “All these questions are quite sobering and highlight the importance of having insurance cover,” says Alex Bartels, national sales manager of insurance at ooba, South Africa's largest bond originator.

“During the festive season, many people overspend and one of the first things they neglect to pay is their insurance,” Bartels continues. Most insurance companies see a significant drop in paid premiums over December and January. “The irony, of course, is that this is the very time they should be keeping up to date with their premiums,” she says. SAPS national crime statistics reveal that burglaries increase by 8% on average in December, with a marked increase in house robberies in the months leading up to the festive season.

If you're going away on holiday, Bartels advises making sure your security systems are fully functional before you go. This includes alarms, sensors and burglar bars. “Clear gutters of leaves and branches,” she says. “And don't advertise that new 60-inch TV and Playstation 3 by throwing away branded gift boxes and leaving them exposed in outside rubbish bins,” she adds.

Other tips include turning off your geyser before you go and installing light-sensor bulbs outside your house that switch on and off automatically. “It's always a good idea to have a friend keep an eye on your home and clear your letter box while you're away,” she says. 

Last but not least, ensure your premium for your house insurance is paid and up to date. “This will give you peace of mind while you're away,” says Bartels. “No one likes to think the worst will happen, but when it does, it's comforting to know that you have sufficient insurance cover in place.”