Are you prepared for the December holidays?

 It is that time of the year again when we all focus on planning our December holidays, and counting down the days till we can take the much needed break.

“With all the excitement, of the holiday season ahead, one can easily focus too much on where you will be going and forget about what you are leaving behind” cautions Craig Hutchison, CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

Even for those not actually going away on holiday – it is still worth taking note of the items below as we all know that December is a very popular time for criminals to be on the prowl, so make sure that you review both your home content insurance as well as the actual security which is in place before it is too late.

Home content insurance

“Insurance is one of those things that very few of us can afford not to have – however expensive it may be” says Hutchison. There are numerous insurance companies out there, who offer a range of options, so it’s difficult to choose which one to go for, and often difficult to understand what kind of service you’re getting for the money that you’re paying. There’s also lots of fineprint in contracts, and written in a very intimidating language. Engel & Völkers investigated a few pointers to help you make the most of your insurance.


As with any significant purchase you make, it’s worth shopping around. Insurance companies with significant website presences complemented by call centres may offer an easy-to-manage service that is carried out over the phone or online, but insurance is a complex matter, in which there is no one-fits-all package.

While many of these sites advertise their cost benefits as being derived from cutting out the ‘middle man’ or broker, our research has proved that dealing with a broker is in effect more cost effective. In comparing quotes from three brokers and two online services, all three quotes from brokers cost less than those offered by the online companies.


As food and fuel prices goes up, so does every other item you own so you need to ensure that you revise your insured value every 6 – 12 months. But how do you know how much you should be ensuring your content for? This is a very difficult question but a rule of thumb should be that if you were to turn your house upside down, everything which would then fall to the roof, should be able to be replaced with the amount which you are insured for.

It might be worth engaging the services of a specialist company to perform an evaluation. It may take a couple of hours for them to do, but they have the knowledge and experience to apportion an accurate value, which will mean that you are appropriately insured. Thus, you will not be paying too much insurance, and in the event of a claim, you will not be penalised for under-insuring your assets. Some brokers include an evaluation of your household contents at no charge – remember to ask about it.

When it comes to receiving your contract, be sure to read the fineprint, making sure that you understand it and that you comply with all of its conditions. If your house is only covered for burglary if your alarm is set when there’s nobody home, then set it every time you leave – even if you’re just popping out for ten minutes. If you are burgled and your alarm was not set and activated, the insurance company is in its rights not to pay you a cent. It makes no difference what burglar bars and security gates you may have – if this is a condition of the policy, it needs to be adhered to.

If you know that you are not always mindful enough to set your alarm on departure, rather cover your house as if you didn’t have an alarm at all – the difference in cost is marginal, although there are some areas where no cover will be offered unless an alarm linked to a response company is installed.

“Whether you are going away, or staying at home this December, consider a few of the items mentioned above as it is always best to rather be over-prepared than under” concludes Craig.