Going away? Tips to help you keep your home secure

A woman keeping her home secure by locking the front door.

If you’re heading away, even just for the day, here are a few ways to help you keep your property safe while it sits empty.

There are a few steps you can take that can help keep your property safe and give you peace of mind when you’re away from home. Whether you’re away for a day or for a few weeks, we’ve put together a few tips to help you secure your property.

Check your insurance cover

Before heading away, it’s worth reviewing your insurance and making sure your policy is still active and your details are up to date. If you’re driving to your destination, check your car insurance, paying attention to the drivers listed on your policy and your agreed value. An agreed value is the maximum amount your insurer will pay for your vehicle.

For contents insurance, check your contents sum insured, which is the total amount your belongings are covered for. If you’re unsure how much your stuff is worth, this handy contents calculator, independently provided by Sum Insured, can help you calculate an estimate of the value of your contents.

It’s also worth checking that the adjustable event limits are correct. Adjustable event limits are the highest amount your insurer will pay for each category of items for a single event. For AA Insurance customers, adjustable event limits apply to jewellery and watches, cameras, works of art, bicycles, business tools and professional equipment. If you’re an AA Insurance customer, you can find all of this information on your policy schedule or on your My AA Insurance online account. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of this with our team.

Lock it up

Before you leave the house, always lock the doors and close all your windows, even in summer. Put away anything that could be used to break in, such as ladders, gardening tools and wheelie bins. If you can, lock your bikes in the garage, store outdoor furniture inside and secure items like trampolines, which can help prevent damage if the weather turns.

A good habit to get into is locking your car every time you get out of it, taking all valuables with you. Keep your house and car keys separately and try to avoid leaving them in plain sight. If you have a cat flap, make sure you lock it before you set off. If it can’t be locked, installing a deadbolt on the door can help provide additional security. Remove any keys from the back door before you leave, so that potential thieves don’t have easy access to your property.

Tell trusted friends or family

If you have a trusted friend or family member who lives locally, let them know when you’re going away and give them a contact number so they can get in touch if anything happens. You may want to ask them to take a few actions to make it look like someone is at home, like collecting your mail, mowing the lawn, or parking in your driveway. Perhaps you have a trusted friend who could stay at your house or drop by regularly to check on the place? Alternatively, you could organise for NZ Post to hold your mail, hire someone to regularly mow the lawns, and install timers on your lights so the house looks occupied in the evenings.

Safeguard your valuables

Put away or hide any items of value, like jewellery and electronics, so they can’t be seen from the outside of your home. It’s a good idea to take photos of high value items like jewellery and works of art and make digital copies of documentation such as valuations, purchase receipts and financial statements. These may be used as proof of ownership if you need to make a claim.

Check your tech

Don’t advertise that your home is unattended by leaving messages on your voicemail or posting on social media. Before you go away, make sure you back up your digital images, documents and videos, and keep a copy away from the original. While your digital devices can be replaced, the data with your memories in it generally can’t, so it pays to regularly update your back-up.

Protect your property

If you’re going away, prevent leaks by turning off your water and gas. Flick off any unused switches and unplug appliances to avoid damage from potential power surges. Be careful not to turn off appliances like the fridge or freezer; you don’t want to come home to a fridge full of spoiled food. If that does happen, both our Contents Insurance options give you excess-free cover for food that is spoilt due to a power surge, a power cut, or when your fridge or freezer breaks down. For Contents Insurance, you can claim up to a limit of $1,000 for any one event and up to $500 for Limited Contents for any one event. Check out the spoiled food benefit detailed on your policy under the section Standard benefits - cover automatically included, under Spoiled food.

Set up alerts

Sensor lights around your property are a simple and cost-effective way to alert you if someone is creeping around outside. You might consider improving your home security by investing in an alarm system. There are a range of smart security systems available on the market which may help give you peace of mind and could help you save on your premium. It’s worth remembering that these are additions that can detect a burglar but can’t always keep them out, so be sure to continue with the safety precautions listed above.

For more useful tips to help keep your home and property safe, have a look at the NZ Police’s website.

Any questions?

Now’s a great time to review your insurance. We recommend checking your details are up to date and ensuring the policy and cover you’ve chosen is right for you and your insurance needs.

If you have any questions about your insurance, need to update your AA Insurance policies or would like a quote, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re open from 8am to 8pm weekdays and from 8am to 6pm weekends and public holidays.

This blog provides general information only and is not intended to be a recommendation or personalised financial advice. Excesses, terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply to AA Insurance Limited’s policies. Please check the policy wording for details of cover. The provision of cover is subject to the underwriting criteria that apply at the time.

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