Aside from the presidential election, the media has been full of coverage of Hurricane Sandy recently. While the hurricane has caused complete devastation and ruined many people’s lives, there are some great lessons that we can all learn. From a selfish point of view, it has forced me to look closely at different ‘high risk’ aspects of my life and consider if I have adequate risk mitigation systems in place. For example: Do I have adequate insurance to protect me financially against something destroying my house? This got me thinking about all the different ways in which people can protect their assets and what is important to them. Because I like structure and writing things logically, I have broken these down into three main areas. Ask yourself if you are totally comfortable with the current measures you have in place:
By protecting yourself, I mean health wise. Do you have health insurance in place to cover against medical bills? If you have state medical care (like we do in the UK) is this enough to protect you and your family to a high standard? Are you in a profession where your health / fitness is critical to your ability to carry out your job? If the answer is yes, have you got disability insurance or another back-up plan in place?
Protecting Your Car
Sure, we all have car insurance, but is this always enough? Breakdown cover is almost an essential add-on to protect you against any unfortunate mechanical failures. Furthermore, break down policies vary considerably – from the premium home-start and country wide cover, to the bare minimum of cover within 20 miles of your home. Is the level of cover you have (if any) adequate for your lifestyle? I was once in the car with someone who was unfortunate enough to break-down without cover. Actually, they didn’t break down but ran out of petrol. It cost them over £200 to call out the AA to put about £5 worth of fuel in the tank! This fine alone could have covered up to 10 years worth of cover! Also, consider a policy that protects against valuable stereo / sat nav systems.
Protecting Your House
Numerous people discount this one immediately because they have home insurance, when in reality, they only have a very basic cover which doesn’t properly address home security. Does your insurance cover contents? If so, what is the excess? What exceptions apply? Does this include accidental damage? Protecting your home is an area we can all improve upon. Consider the following suggestions:
- Use Motion-sensor / infrared lights around your house and property -these will activate at night upon detecting movement. A bright light alone can deter a potential burglar
- Blinds / Curtains – We have all seen those houses where you can look in the window and see the car keys, massive television, laptop, wallet etc. WHY? Make a point of protecting your assets with blinds.. as well as your privacy!
- Lock windows / doors – A burglar doesn’t need to break in to your house if it’s open in the first place! Make a point of checking doors and windows before bed.
- Ensure that you have proper locks – Consider replacing them if you have recently moved, or adding an extra deadlock / deadbolt
- Install a home security system - if all other measures don’t work, you need a fail-safe system. An alarm works effectively by creating an extremely loud noise while surprising the intruder. Often the appearance of an alarm system is a big enough of a detterent in itself.
- Use timer switches to control lights – If you are out the house for long periods of time (even throughout the day) consider using a timer to switch on lights in different rooms at various times. This would confuse any potential burglar scouting the neighbourhood for potential targets.
- Landscape with Integrity – Trees next to windows act as pretty good substitutes for ladders. Plants / shrubs can provide cover for burglars to sneak up on a property.
- Meet Your Neighbours – How well do you actually know your neighbours? It is worth having a chat and befriending them – it always helps when neighbours are aware of your working hours / holiday plans.
- Adjust your phone – Nothing cries out that a home is vacant more than a phone ringing unanswered. Consider turning down the ring volume / turning it to silent when you are out the house.
We all think we are safe until it’s too late. Which area is your biggest weakness?
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