I trot this post our once a year as a reminder that you are being watched… even when you are not in front of your computer screen. It is not only thieves and vagabonds you need to worry about who might have designs on your empty house, but also trying to claim on your health insurance for some unfortunate mishap that took place while you were having fun in the sun.
If your social media is plastered with you indulging in risky behaviour you may be hearing he words (non,no,nein,niet) from your insurance provider.
Depending where you go at home or abroad, it can be expensive, especially at peak times, but there are also other costs to take into account resulting from our online exposure.
We have all read the stories in the press of teenagers planning a get together whilst parents are away for the night and five thousand turn up on the doorstep and then trash the house.. Every parent’s nightmare.. Yet we adults also have to be careful about what we post on Facebook that might invite unwanted guests into our home. We also have to be savvy about what we post while we are away, as this too might end up costing you thousands.
Apart from swearing children to secrecy about their much anticipated two weeks away from August 1st to all their friends. (I am not suggesting for a minute that they might harbour criminal intent), we also need to guard against announcing our time away online to our ‘friends’ on Facebook and other media. I am always clear when I am going away that there is someone in the house, electrified fencing and a python loose in the garden!
As we head towards the summer holidays and millions of us board planes and ships to travel around the world, the first thing that we want to do is share our wonderful experiences. With the world-wide web you can post your images to Facebook and other sites every day as you relax on your tropical lanai and watch the sun go down. Clearly this is not Northampton……
First and foremost of course is the little matter of telling the world that you are on holiday and that your house is more than likely empty except for all your worldly possessions. Not only that, in your ‘farewell and be back in touch in two weeks’ final message to all your ‘friends’ on social media you have also given potential thieves the time scales so that they can schedule you in to their calendar.
These days you only have to pay a small amount to a site that provides addresses such as 192.com or even the online telephone directory to track your house down and then criminals have all they need to go on their own little spree.
Your home insurer will (say no ten times before finally giving in) check your social media, and if they discover that you have announced to everyone that you are going to be leaving your house vacant for the dates in question, they are likely to deny any claim you might make.
Secondly, travel and medical insurance is a large expense today and the natural inclination is to get the basic and hope for the best. With ski holidays you have to be fairly specific about your risk factors which is understandable, but what about your lovely two weeks in the sun where you might lose your luggage or your wallet but not your health or even life.
We have all had that moment when that last cocktail has provided the courage to sky-dive, para-glide, wind surf, scuba dive, swim with dolphins or sharks, jump off the highboard or any other activity that we thought we would never attempt….After all we are only young once and life is for living!
And you can be sure that if you have a pre-existing condition that this will be taken into consideration when your claim is assessed. And if you have thrown yourself out of a plane and have a history of angina which results in an episode requiring medical treatment, you will find yourself paying the cost of it.
The insurance company will also be checking your Facebook and Instagram and those photographs of you enjoying a few cocktails by the pool with your family and friends and they may be used against you.
Recently in the headlines, couples and families who have claimed that they were unable to enjoy their holiday due to stomach upsets caused by the food in the hotel or the bar, have been caught out.. Photographs of them clearing the all you can eat buffet and enjoying para-gliding everyday on their holiday told the true story. This proves that your every move is being monitored and that parting an insurance company or holiday firm from their profits is not so easy these days. The minority who try to buck the system turn us all into perceived criminals unfortunately.
This does not just apply to family holiday but is particularly important if you have teenagers heading off on holiday with a bunch of friends. They are far more likely to post photographs of everything that they do on holiday and not just on Facebook but across the board. They are at greater risk of doing themselves harm and also of having problems with their insurance.
So, if you are going on holiday, do not tell the world on Facebook or on any other blog or social media site, unless it is absolutely clear that you have left people in charge in your absence. Post your holiday photographs when you return safe and sound and no longer have need of your medical insurance and then you can share that amazing moment you threw yourself out of a plane at 15,000 feet.
Some signs that your house may be targeted
On the note of housebreaking. Apart from giving prior notice of your absence on social media for any reason,be careful of putting death and funeral notices in the paper.
If you live in the house you may find yourself getting late night or early morning calls that are hang-ups. Someone is trying to find out if after a bereavement the house is empty and vulnerable. Also check outside for anything out of place in the front garden or any strange marks on garden walls, gates or even on the walls of the house, probably in chalk. These are signs left to indicate that the house is empty. My advice is to leave someone at the house during a funeral and after a bereavement for a couple of weeks at least. The same applies when you are on holiday.
When we had Sam we had a wonderful house/pet sitter and if we are both away at the same time she would come and live in looking after him and the house. You may find that a family member would love a bit of a break themselves and move in for your time away and it saves a fortune if you have pets rather than put them in kennels.
Here are a couple of sites you might find useful. Established sitters come with references and in some cases are bonded. Many are people who have retired and want to see the world will cover their travel expenses and in most cases do not charge as they are happy not to pay accommodation costs.
The key is to be safe on holiday and make sure that all your activities are covered by your insurance.. Look at the small print and only post your party shots and sky dives when you get home safely!
Thanks for dropping in….