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Going on holiday? Here’s how your building and home contents insurance protects you

Insurance 101

Learn how your home and belongings stay protected with building and contents insurance, plus some handy tips!

Ready for that much-needed relaxation and adventure? Same. But what about the safety of your home and belongings while you're away? Understanding how your building and home contents insurance protects your property and valuables while you are away is very important.

In this article, we look at the different roles building and contents insurance play in protecting you and your home.

1. Geyser and any water damage:

When you're away, a burst geyser can lead to significant water damage both to your building and the stuff in it. Building insurance covers the repair costs of any damage to your home's structure, including floors and walls.

While home contents insurance protects your furniture and other stuff damaged by the water, ensuring you're not left out of pocket.

2. Mother Nature: Hail storms and floods:

Nature can be unpredictable. If a hailstorm or flood strikes while you're holiday-ing, building insurance will cover damages to the physical structure of your home, such as roof repairs or damaged solar panels.

While home contents insurance steps in to cover damage to your personal belongings inside the home, such as electronics or furniture.

3. Theft at home:

The Holiday season is often the time when burglars target unoccupied homes. In the unfortunate event of a burglary, building insurance covers damages to the structure, like broken windows or doors. Home contents insurance becomes crucial here if you have valuable items at home, as it compensates you for the loss of these stolen goods.

4. Power surges:

Insurance policies usually cover damage to electrical appliances and systems directly caused by a sudden and unexpected power surge. This includes scenarios where a lightning strike or a sudden restoration of power after load shedding results in a surge that damages your appliances.

An important thing to remember is that while damage from sudden power surges are generally covered, gradual deterioration is not. The continuous on-off cycling of your appliances caused by frequent load shedding can lead to a shorter lifespan. This type of wear and tear is typically excluded from standard home insurance policies.

Here are some tips to protect your appliances:

  • Turn off and unplug all non-crucial electrical appliances.
  • Switch off geysers at the DB board when away from home for long periods of time.
  • Consider investing in a surge protector on your main DB board, which will protect your appliances from external power surges like lightning as well as from a surge when power returns after load shedding.
  • Buy power surge protector plugs to protect appliances like TVs, fridges and computers. They are cheap and effective.
  • Consider a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) for items like your fridge and deep freeze.

5. Theft or accidental damage to valuables you’ve taken on holiday with you:

If you've taken valuables on your vacay and they are stolen or accidentally damaged, your home contents insurance might cover these items outside your home. But it all depends on the type of cover you’ve chosen – many insurers require you to specify portable items for them to be covered fully if they’re taken away from home. The reason being is that as soon as you leave your home, your items face more risk of being lost, stolen or damaged.

6. Fire:

A fire can be devastating, whether you are home or away. Building insurance will cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home, while contents insurance will cover the replacement of your possessions that were lost in the fire.

7. Liability cover:

Lastly, liability cover is an often overlooked aspect of home insurance. If someone is injured on your property while you’re away, or if your property causes damage to a neighbour's home (like a tree falling), liability cover will protect you from the financial burden of these claims.

Handy tips to make sure your cover is all set and just what you need:

  • Pick the right excess: Choose an excess amount that balances your monthly premium affordability with your ability to pay an excess in case of a claim.
  • Choose the right sum insured: Think of it like packing a suitcase – not too much, not too little. Regularly updating this amount makes sure that you’re insuring all the little things you’ve bought over the year and adjusting for inflation.
  • Cover on the go: Taking valuables on your adventures? Make sure your policy extends to items you take outside your home.
  • Make sure your geyser is covered: Some policies require a 'geyser booster' in your cover, to handle those unexpected bursts and leaks. Make sure it’s covered if it had to burst.

In summary, whether you have only building insurance, only contents insurance, or both, understanding how they work together to protect your home and belongings while you're on holiday can make all the difference.


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