Property insurance unpacked

Many people take property and home insurance for granted. But, when we look at burglary statistics coupled with South Africa's unpredictable weather patterns, it becomes plain to see why it's necessary to have both. Dawie Buys, from the South African Insurance Association (SAIA), sheds light on the subject...


The importance of property and home contents insurance


Home insurance covers two main categories:

Homeowners’ insurance relates to the standard cover that protects your property (buildings) from risk (commonly known as perils – natural disaster, fire, theft, vehicle damage, smoke and a number of other factors).


The secondary category of home insurance is similarly known as home contents insurance and this covers all the personal possessions in your home. It stands to reason, regardless of how expensive your taste might be, considering all that you invest in with turning your house into your dream home, that it may be arguably better to have both the buildings and contents categories covered with your home insurance policy to ensure that your assets are safely guarded.



Brief overview of the short-term insurers market...


The short-term insurers market had a rough year according to the industry analysis from Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), not only because of the current precarious economic situation in SA and the GDP growth per capita. This is also due to the ever-increasing evidence of climate change and weather conditions (hail storms) which led to significant increases in the number of annual claims from property insurers. So, while homeowners insurance comes in handy in the event of burglary, home robbery and theft, it also covers you in the event of natural disasters which may wreak havoc on the structural layout of your home.


A contributing factor to the slow growth in the short-term insurance market from a property perspective is down to banks lending less. One of the bigger contributors to this market from a property perspective stems directly from the segment of the population investing in property - requiring financial assistance to do so. This has much to do with the fact that one of the conditions imposed upon individuals that have a home loan or bond is that they need to take out the necessary home insurance as part of their home loan agreement. 

Tighten security


Metropolitan Areas: Prime property


For the most part it appears that the highest number of burglaries are experienced more often than not in the metropolitan areas. Armed robbery is and has been becoming a greater cause of concern. As security systems are tightened up and with access to homes becoming more of a tricky business, semi-organised groups target specific areas, not only putting your prized belongings but your life in danger as well. 


Burglary insights


Dr Zinn’s research report delivered some insightful factors for consideration with regards to the leading causes of burglary as well as the various factors that contribute towards risk.


•8 out of 10 burglaries are made possible through the help of former employees, domestic workers and gardeners. 


•Burglars do extensive research and observe their targets day to day routines for approximately two weeks.


•Similarly they monitor the response times from armed response and understand the time frame that is available to them to get the job done.


•Most cases for burglary and armed robbery occur between 7pm and midnight, as people usually lower their guard.


•White people are not exclusively targeted – all people that show signs of wealth stand to be victimised.


•90% of burglars and housebreakers have no matric and are unemployed; the 10% who were previously employed gave up their jobs upon identifying how much money was to be made in the business of armed robbery.


Security measures that deter housebreakers:Housebreakers tend to tread with more caution in the presence of the following security measures:


•Electrical fencing


•Sensor beams




•Small dogs that reside within homes are said to be the biggest deterrent

The way forward...

Best practices that come highly recommended sourced from this report in a nutshell are:


•Be a neat freak - ensure that there are no areas in your yard; front or back which perpetrators could use for concealment.


•Let nature take its course by planting some thorn bushes near areas which may provide access to burglars.


•Don’t leave tools lying around (those that would assist them in breaking in and entering)•Have a dog at your residence that loves to bark.


•Steer clear from having any set daily routines and have CCTV installed - it may put perpetrators off and make you a less attractive target.


•Don't be lax when hiring new people to work for you - ensure that you employ trustworthy individuals.


• Be cautious about who you allow into your home.



Unfortunately, because of the unacceptably high levels of crime in our country, we do need to take a closer look at taking responsibility and doing what’s necessary to ensure our own security, protecting ourselves and our families. Insurance is often seen as a grudge purchase, but it’s becoming more and more essential. It actually acts as more of a life saver, especially when faced with situations which could lead to and result in large financial losses. Huge financial losses can result from burglaries and home robberies, especially if you don’t have the necessary home and household cover – don’t tempt fate by thinking you’re untouchable or invincible, rather step up those security measures. It’s a war out there and it’s definitely a matter of survival of the fittest. 

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