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Many South Africans breathed a sigh of relief when the President, in his address to the ‘family meeting’, this past Tuesday evening, did not announce any additional travelling restrictions for the coming Easter weekend. For many of us this will mean an opportunity to travel all over South Africa to visit family and friends or to attend religious events. However, during these times of heightened financial desperation, increased crime and the added danger of driving in peak holiday season traffic, “motorists and homeowners are advised to keep basic preparation, safety, precaution and insurance in mind,” says Christelle Colman, Spokesperson for Old Mutual Insure.
When planning a holiday away from home, also “think about what will be happening at your home when you are away,” says Colman. She also urged South Africans to take heed of the following tips:
In addition to standard alarms and anti-burglary devices it is also a good idea to have “key exterior lights on day-night switches as well as a few strategic interior lights on timers,” adds Colman.
Ensure homes are properly secured and don’t leave any objects lying around that can be used to gain entry. Ideally, “make sure that post is collected, and verges, lawns and other indicators of absence are managed while you are away,” says Colman.
Before embarking on a long trip, holiday makers should be sure that the vehicle they are travelling in has been properly maintained. Ideally, always plan a service ahead of a long trip. Failing a full service, at least “check tyres, oil, battery and fuel before setting off,” advises Colman.
Take a break from driving every two hours. Stop at a petrol station and stretch your legs before getting on your way. Pack a few snacks and energy drinks for the trip.
Securing your property before leaving for the Easter Weekend
“Switch off your geyser and water mains before you leave to prevent any damage from a burst geyser, leaking pipes or pressure surges in your absence,” advises Colman.
Holiday makers without a mobile phone charger in their vehicle, should switch off their mobile phone - or ensure that at least one of the mobile phones in their vehicle is switched off. “If you have an emergency it is essential that you have at least one operational and fully charged mobile phone,” advises Colman.
In an environment of heightened crime with criminals actively trawling social media sites to gain information about potential victims, “don’t advertise your trip,” says Colman. “It’s not a good idea that everyone knows you will be away for Easter,” warns Colman. When travelling, “don’t use your cell phone or do anything that may distract you while driving. Remain alert, aware and exclusively focussed on driving,” says Colman.
Ensuring peace of mind with adequate insurance
Before travelling, it is also important to make sure your insurance premiums are up to date. At a minimum, homeowners should have a basic homeowners policy, covering the home for loss from burglary, fire, water and other damage while away. “Make sure this policy is up to date, correctly reflecting your full contents – and their current value,” advises Colman. It is also a good idea to store pictures of particularly valuable items, like jewellery and art electronically. Pictures can help prove ownership and value. “Pictures also help with recovery in the event of loss,” adds Colman.
Vehicle owners should also have basic car cover, including third-party cover. Own and third-party vehicle repair costs aside, since motor vehicle accidents often lead to loss of life and permanent injury, “it is critical that vehicle owners are covered for the risk of killing or permanently disabling other motorists,” says Colman. In an increasingly litigious age, personal injury awards in instances of death or permanent injury where a victim is unable to work or support a family for the rest of their lives “can run into the millions,” she warns.
Before heading off on that long-anticipated break, vehicle owners should also check that their policies have basic roadside and other emergency assistance. Breaking down or being involved in an accident in the middle of nowhere “where you don’t know who to trust or which service or emergency providers to use can be confusing and traumatic – and people can make terrible mistakes,” says Colman. Being able to call on a trusted insurance advisor to “guide you to the right service providers and emergency services - at the right price - in these instances is critical,” advises Colman.
Getting the basics of preparation, safety, precaution and insurance right this holiday season can make the difference between a well-earned rest or costly and stressful ordeal.