Stay safe and insured over the Easter break, says Insurance & Financial Services Ombdusman

28 March 2018

Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Karen Stevens is reminding Easter travellers to check their homes, cars and insurance policies before hitting the road.

“Doing a few things before you leave could make the difference between having insurance cover or not,” says Karen. “To avoid the double disappointment of a declined insurance claim, should anything go wrong, we encourage Easter travellers to take these steps.”

Check your home and contents

1. Check your insurance policies – make sure they’re up to date
Check to see what you are and are not covered for, and check that you’ve paid your premiums. If you haven’t paid, your policy can lapse and you won’t be covered for anything after that date.

2. Lock your house and garage, close the windows
Most policies exclude cover for theft from unlocked premises.

3. Let neighbours know you’re going away, but don’t advertise to others
Taking “reasonable care” is a standard obligation. Let your neighbours know you’re away and leave sensor lights on. Don’t advertise you’re away, including social media and phone messages.

4. Lock your valuables away, including if people are staying in your house
Take care if you have people staying or renting your home on Airbnb or book-a-bach. “Theft by people lawfully in your house” won’t be covered. “We’ve seen cases involving open homes, trades people, and house guests, where claims for theft have been declined,” says Karen.

Check your cars

1. Check your vehicle, warrant, tyres
Make sure your car has a warrant, but also check the general safety and road-worthiness of your car, including the tyre tread. “Claims can be declined after accidents, because the car was considered to be un-roadworthy – even if it had a current warrant of fitness,” says Karen.

2. Drive carefully and safely, and comply with your licence conditions
Driving carefully is the most important thing. Driving “in breach” of your licence is grounds to decline a claim. “Parents often end up paying for the damage, not only to their own car, but to another car, if they allow their son or daughter to drive outside their learner or restricted licence conditions and an accident occurs,” says Karen.

3. Take note of alcohol limits
There are insurance, as well as legal, consequences for driving over the limit. “Be aware of the alcohol limits,” says Karen. “If you’re over the limit and an accident happens, you won’t be covered.”

4. ‘Lock it or lose it’ on your road trip
Leaving your car unlocked, windows down, or your belongings visible are grounds for insurers to decline a claim due to the insured failing to take reasonable care.

Take care and have a happy Easter!

The Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme has been resolving complaints about insurance and financial services for 23 years. Our service is independent and free for consumers.