Going away? Home security checklist

First of all, if you are heading away to a lovely destination – I am very envious!!

There are many things to consider before you head away for a holiday to ensure that you have a well deserved, relaxing, stress-free break.

Some of these are:

  • Don’t update your social network with holiday snaps until you return. Likewise, no need to announce that you’re going away online anywhere.
  • Securing your home – lock all access ways into your home (windows and doors) and ensure that your curtains are drawn
  • Ask a trusted neighbour (or two) if they can keep an eye on your home and collect any newspapers or other items that may be delivered during this time
  • Consider arranging a house sitter
  • Redirect mail – did you know that you can arrange for the Post Office to hold your mail while you are away?
  • Mow your lawn prior to leaving. If you are likely to be away for an extended period perhaps arrange for someone to do it whilst you are away to keep up the appearance of a “lived in home”
  • Arrange for your lights and TV/radio to come on with a sensor or automatic timer
  • Turn off the water mains to the house if nobody will be staying – a common insurance claim is a burst or leaking pipe and no-one wants to return from holidays with their house resembling a swimming pool!
  • If you are going away during cyclone, storm or bushfire season turn off your gas and power and lock away or tie any loose items
  • Turn off all electrical devices. If possible, it is also a good idea to unplug the item
  • Secure any valuable items in a secure or hidden location. This would also include the precious memories you have stored on your laptop or hard drive
  • Photograph your travel documents – passport, itinerary etc. Consider sending a copy to a relative
  • Photograph your suitcase contents, particularly if there are valuable item/s within it – this will assist in the event of a claim
  • Obtain travel insurance, check the exclusions and conditions. Are you hiring a scooter, skiing or have pre-existing medical conditions? These are some of the common things that are excluded or limited
  • Register with Smartraveller and check the potential issues in the country that you are travelling

Have an amazing holiday!!

Can you afford to rebuild your property?

The single greatest asset that many of us will own is our home, but how much thought has been placed into the current values? Are you adequately insured and will you be able to rebuild your property to the same standard as it was previously if the worst happened?

Some of the costs that need to be considered are:

  • Local building codes and regulations—have they been updated, do you need to add additional fire measures to your property, will you need to change the building materials?
  • The current replacement cost of your property (excluding land), taking into account any escalation in costs that may occur due to a catastrophe. Builders tend to increase their labour rates when a catastrophe occurs and the cost of building materials also escalates due to the number of properties that need rebuilding which puts pressure on the manufacturers and the ability to source materials.

Some policies do include an “escalation clause” to cover some of these costs

  •  The cost to remove all the debris from the site and re-level to start again. Consider any hazardous materials that are on site that will need specialist removal.
  •  Have you included sheds, outdoor structures, pools and outbuildings in your sum insured?
  •  The majority of policies have an underinsurance clause which determines how close you need to be to the correct replacement sum insured of your property. Generally this is between 10 and 20%, meaning that if you underinsure by more than this “buffer” you will be penalised in a claim. Please refer to your Product Disclosure Statement or Broker for more information on this.

Did you know that after the Blue Mountains fires many people were not able to rebuild their properties due to underinsurance? This was caused mainly by a change in council regulations which has left a number of insured people more than $200,000 out of pocket.

What should you do?

Yearly:

Check with your local council that the building regulations have not changed. Ask the council if you are in a flood or fire prone area.

Every 1-3 years:

Obtain a valuation on your property or at least speak to a builder about current rebuilding costs.

Some calculators that may assist:

http://www.lmigroup.com/RiskCoach/Calculators/BuildingCalculator.aspx?access=adroit

http://understandinsurance.com.au/calculators