The holiday season is “rich pickings” for burglars, insurance experts claim, making it extra important to protect your expensive new presents.
Last December was the second-highest month for home break-in claims during the last financial year, according to insurance firm AAMI, with claims six per cent higher than average. Claims spiked even higher in January, just after Christmas – up seven per cent on the monthly average.
AAMI spokesperson Reuben Aitchison says burglars target homes when they know there are a lot of presents sitting under the Christmas tree or freshly tucked away in the cupboards.
“They know there’s a whole lot of new stuff there that people are playing with, so it’s rich pickings for them,” Mr Aitchison says.
Failing to take proper precautions can not only allow a burglar to steal your festive cheer, but also ruin your chances of claiming on insurance, says a leading comparison website.
“Nobody wants to suffer the stress of a break-in at any time of year, let alone at Christmas. So make sure you don’t let your guard drop while you enjoy the holiday season,” says CANSTAR finance editor Justine Davies.
“Failing to lock your door or a window, for example, won’t just ruin your Christmas, it could also void your insurance claim,” she says.
Here is how to avoid ending up a victim of Christmas grinches – both the ones in masks and in pin-striped suits.
Secure your home
A Victoria Police spokesperson tells The New Daily that the “most alarming” fact about residential burglaries is that many of us simply make it too easy.
In nearly half of all reported cases in Victoria in the last financial year, there were no signs of forced entry into the premises, meaning the burglar entered through an open or unlocked door or window.
“Most burglaries are opportunistic and occur during the day when residents are not at home,” the spokesperson says.
Recent research by insurance firm AAMI showed that close to a third (27 per cent) of the 3,000 adults surveyed sometimes left their front or back door unlocked, and 32 per cent left windows unlocked. A further one in five said they left keys under pot plants or doormats.
Here is what Victoria Police recommends:
• Install good quality locks on doors and windows.
• Lock all windows and doors, even when you’re at home. Unlocked side and rear doors are the most common entry points for burglars.
• Make your house look occupied at all times. For example, ask a neighbour to bring in your mail and bins if you’re away for a while.
Brag about Santa’s gifts to the insurance man
AAMI spokesperson Reuben Aitchison tells The New Daily that many forget to update their contents insurance, which can result in an expensive new gift, such as an iPad or smartphone, not being covered if stolen by a burglar.
“When people get lovely new Christmas presents, updating their insurance is a distant afterthought, which can leave them rather caught out if they do get broken into,” Mr Aitchison says.
“I’ve been caught out myself in the past.”
“When you get something really nice like that, that is valuable and costs a lot to replace, make sure it is specified on your policy,” he says.
Don’t do anything to void your claim
Christmas is a bad time to be battling the insurance company, especially after a break-in, so here’s the list of no-nos to avoid a claim rejection.
• Don’t allow a burglar unforced entry.
• Don’t leave anything that could aid a burglar (such as ladders or tools) outside your home.
• Don’t tell your insurer you have a burglar alarm, but then fail to turn it on when you go to visit the relatives for Christmas dinner.
• Don’t wait longer than 24 hours to report the break-in to police.
• Don’t leave your house unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days (check your policy).