While many of us take a break over the summer period the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman has warned holiday-makers to take care before they head off, as burglars are priming themselves for a busy time of year.
Insurance providers say most thieves are picky about the types of items they will steal from your home with jewellery, computers and other electrical goods high on their priority lists. However, they often prove less particular about the location of their targets.
AMI Retail Network head Wayne Tippet says many people don’t realise that most burglaries are crimes of opportunity and that your home is vulnerable whether you live in the Auckland CBD or on a remote West Coast farm.
The latest figures available from police show nearly 53,000 incidences of burglary or break and enter were recorded in New Zealand during the 12 months to 31 December 2013.
“Unfortunately theft can and does happen everywhere, rural properties as well as cities,” Tippet says. “It doesn’t matter where you are or how well you know your neighbours, you should always take precautions to ensure you’re not advertising your absence.”
Tippet says common sense goes a long way to helping avoid a nasty surprise when you return from your holiday as does the peace of mind that comes from knowing your home and contents are adequately insured.
Simply turning down the volume on your telephone ringer, cancelling the paper or getting the post office to hold all your mail for the time you are away can prove significant deterrents to would-be thieves, he says.
He cautions against putting out your rubbish six days early or posting holiday snaps on social media while you are still away as these clearly indicate that you are not home.
Instead, he suggests leaving a light on via a timer, so it comes on for a few hours in the evening, or get a friend to park their car in your driveway to suggest the home is occupied.
While New Zealanders are fortunate to live in a relatively safe country, AMI works hard to ensure the claim process is as quick and easy as possible if the worst happens, he says.
Should you arrive home to find your property has been entered, there are a few simple measures that will help make the claim process easier. The first move is to call the police, followed by your insurer.
“Speak to others on your road or street about possible sightings of movement in and around the house. Secure the house but don’t tamper with the property as it could disturb the crime scene if there has been a burglary.”
Tippet says as a general rule, the more information you can give your insurer about what you’re claiming for the better. So where possible keep receipts of goods purchased, product manuals, serial numbers and packaging – even photos of your major possessions will help.
“It can often help to talk to someone face to face about a claim and that’s why AMI has 65 branches across the country where you can sit down discuss the situation and make decisions locally which can help speed up the claims process,” he says.
To find out more about arranging cover and ensuring your own peace of mind this summer, call AMI on 0800 100 200, visit www.ami.co.nz or pop into one of their 65 branches nationwide.