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Homeowners' Insurance
Friday, December 18, 2015 - 10:28
Holiday checklist

Those planning a holiday may be considering hiring a house sitter. This can be an affordable and convenient way to ensure your property, pets, garden and many other aspects are looked after when you are away. But there are risks, and one should consider insurance options where possible.
Choosing the right house sitter is important since they will have custody of your assets in every way.
Comments Lizette Erasmus, head of insurance expertise at IntegriSure, “It is crucial to ensure you are properly covered and protected should any unforeseen incidents or damage occur.”
The 2015 Crime Statistics, released by the South Africa Police Service (SAPS), stated a total of 714 households were burgled each day in the country, and highlighted a marked increase in violent property crimes. “With this in mind, having a house sitter as an added deterrent and safeguard for your property can be a plus, providing peace of mind to holidaymakers.
“However, it is also important to note that it is ultimately the responsibility of the policy holder to ensure the relevant and correct safety measures are in place to protect not only your own property, but also the house sitter,” she says. “Before going on holiday, make sure that security systems in place are in proper working order, and address any maintenance issues before leaving.”
She advises that when choosing to use a house sitter, it is advisable to hire from a reputable company offering these professional services, who screen and train candidates. “Alternatively, use someone you know and trust such as a family friend or a close relative.”
When it comes to mitigating risks should an incident occur, such as a robbery or damages caused through a house sitter’s actions, it is important to review the insurance cover provided in terms of your policy.

“Specifically, enquire whether malicious damage, as well as theft cover, form part of the standard insured perils.”
Other important steps to take include the following:
• Ensure the house sitter has your contact details in the event of an emergency;
• Provide the house sitter with contact details of your security company, neighbourhood watch, neighbours details, local police, fire brigade services as well as veterinary details if you have any pets;
• Ensure the house sitter knows where the main power supply is as well as main water supply tap that could be closed in the event of an emergency such as a burst geyser;
• Provide the house sitter with contact details of your Assistance Services in respect of your home owners financial services provider in order for emergency repairs to be conducted as soon as possible to minimise any resultant damage;
• Lock away all electronic equipment such as laptops or iPads as well as valuable jewellery that you are not taking with you. Also remove valuable ornaments and art work from the main reception and lounge areas and lock away in a room that will be unused during this period;
• Inform the house sitter if any service provider will be coming to do work in and around your home to prevent any possibility of thieves gaining illegal access to your home.
If you opt not to make use of a house sitter it is still important to note that insurers do require that the policy holder notifies them in the event of your home being unoccupied for a period of 60 days or more. This is viewed as a change in risk and insurers may apply an additional premium for the period that your home is unoccupied. Erasmus recommends contacting your Financial Service Provider to review you cover prior to departing on vacation to ensure that you enjoy the necessary cover for your trip and home while away.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:28.12 1st December, 2015
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