7 tips to avoid an unpleasant surprise at Christmas

It's easy to forget things when you're thinking about Christmas and the holidays, as well as rushing to finish off projects for demanding customers. Here are seven things to remember before you put your feet up and enjoy your well-earned break.


1. Secure your sites before you go (and take your tools with you)

They're more vulnerable to thieves when closed up for the holidays, as no one is regularly on site and neighbours may be away. Make sure they're as secure as possible and take your tools off site, and out of your truck, and put them somewhere safe.

2. Remember to arrange travel insurance well before you leave

Don't leave it to the last minute, you might not be able to get it at short notice, and it's even more difficult once you've started your trip. And don't even think about going overseas without it. Compared to the cost of medical treatment, lost luggage or cancelled plans it's well worth it.

3. Notify your insurer in writing if you’re going away for a long period

House insurance policies have exclusions if a property is unoccupied for a period of time, which could be as short as 14 days. Check your policy and if you’re going away for a long break make sure you’ve let them know.

4. Are you having house sitters or AirBnB guests over the holidays?

You need to inform your insurer if this is something you regularly do or you risk not being covered.

5. Take sensible precautions before you leave home

This means leaving some curtains open, putting lights on a timer, having someone clear your letter box (and ideally mow the lawns) while you’re away. Also, don’t pile up your Christmas present wrapping and boxes on the roadside before you go away, do it once you get back.

6. Insure any new jewellery, motorbikes, vehicles, boats, caravans, motor homes, expensive electronics (smartphones & iPads), jet skis, guns, rods or other toys before you drive them away or leave them unattended

It may be the last thing on your mind but it's important to arrange insurance on any expensive purchases before you pick them up. This includes increasing your contents sum insured and notifying your insurer of items that must be separately listed on your contents policy, such as jewellery.

Murphy's Law says it's in the small window between picking up the new car and arranging the insurance that an accident will happen! And thieves are very active over Christmas, so any expensive gifts should be insured too.

7. Make sure you’re roadworthy (vehicles and trailers)

Check your registration and warrant are up to date and the vehicle is in good condition before taking off on a road trip (tire pressure OK, lights work, oil checked etc). This equally applies to your trailer (tires, lights, chassis, axle and towbar). Don’t overload your trailer either, in the event of an accident this may affect your insurance. Finally, remember to check that your drivers license is current!

Builtin are New Zealand’s trade insurance experts. For more information and instant quotes visit https://builtininsurance.co.nz or contact Ben Rickard at ben@builtin.co.nz or 0800 BUILTIN.