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Key to security is to lock it or lose it

Key to security is to lock it or lose it
If you like it then you should’ve put a lock on it, says AA Insurance

Auckland – 3 January 2014 – Almost one fifth of Kiwis polled by AA Insurance admit to not locking either their homes or their cars.

AA Insurance claims for the past 12 months (to the end of November 2013) show the likelihood of experiencing a burglary has decreased 12% from the same period in 2011. However, AA Insurance still recorded more than 1,330 home burglaries and thefts from vehicles over the past 12 months, with a total cost of over $4.6 million. The average amount of a burglary claim was over $4,200, while for theft from a vehicle it was $1,800.

While claims for burglaries have declined since 2011, January is still a time of year when it pays to not be cavalier with your security.

“Claims are always a little higher in January when holiday-makers return home, so we’re still urging people to be vigilant and make sure they always lock their property this Christmas – whether it’s your car or your home,” says Suzanne Wolton, Head of Customer Relations, AA Insurance.

The AA Insurance Drivers Index survey, which polled 1,000 Kiwi drivers aged 18+ years, found that 16% of drivers often leave their car unlocked, including when it’s parked outside their home. However, over half of those who had had a vehicle break-in said it happened when their car was parked in their driveway, carport or garage, or nearby street.

“The New Zealand drivers who were surveyed said they are typically driving older cars, with nearly 60% at least 10 years old,” says Suzanne. “This means that nearly four in 10 cars have little or no security as standard, so make easy targets for thieves. Our data for the Top 10 Stolen Vehicles (March ‘13 release) reported that 89% of theft claims were for cars manufactured more than 10 years ago.”

The survey also found that 40% of drivers confessed to leaving personal possessions in their parked car such as laptops, iPods, GPS, bags or other valuables.

In early December one AA Insurance customer left his car in public car park to go Christmas shopping. When he returned his car was gone, along with his iPod, CDs and other belongings he’d left inside. He said he was only gone a few minutes, but that’s all it took for over $5,500 worth of his belongings and car to be driven away.

“Comprehensive car insurance will help replace or repair your car following a theft,” says Suzanne. “However, if your car is broken into any items left in your car, which aren’t part of the car, such as groceries and Christmas presents, are usually covered under your contents insurance. It’s also important to remember that some personal items are irreplaceable so make sure to keep those important possessions out of sight or, better yet, take them with you.”

Thieves targeting homes
According to the AA Insurance Home Security survey, which polled 1,500 Kiwis aged 18+ years, four in 10 New Zealanders have experienced a break-in or burglary, with nearly half of all Aucklanders reporting to have had a break-in. A staggering 12% of Kiwis have been broken into more than once.

“Our survey found that 17% of those burgled were at home at the time of the burglary. Only 22% were away from their home for a period of 24 hours or more when it happened, while 56% were only away for the day or a short period of time,” says Suzanne.

One AA Insurance customer and his partner returned home after a week away and found burglars had jimmied the ranch slider door and ransacked the house. Along with the many electronic items taken the thieves also managed to clear out the pantry, fridge and freezer, including over $1,300 of Chrisco items that had been delivered earlier that week. The total loss was around $10,000.

“At this time of year, Christmas gifts are very tempting to thieves who are looking for an easy opportunity,” says Suzanne. “The holidays also bring more time spent outdoors leaving windows and doors open in the heat, so it’s important to be safety conscious about your house. Find a place to store your valuables such as wallets, cameras and keys, so that thieves can’t simply grab them from a table or hook by the front door.”

If you’re entertaining you may be tempted to leave your front door open to allow guests to come and go as they please. However it’s important to be aware that thieves may also take advantage of the open door policy, especially when they know the party is at the back of the house and no one will hear them. Items left in your entranceway are an easy target, as are rooms where guests have left their belongings – if thieves can’t see anything of value, they will be less likely to break in.

One customer and her husband learnt this the hard way. The couple were having a pre-holiday party at their home, and left their gate and front door unlocked for guests to enter. While the party was in full swing at the back of the house, thieves let themselves into the upstairs master bedroom where the couple’s luggage was waiting for departure the following day. The thieves stole several thousand dollars worth of goods including electronics, jewellery and the hosts’ passports, which meant they missed their flights and ruined the start of their holiday.

Tips to reduce your burglary risk these holidays:
1. Make sure valuables, including TVs and stereos, cannot be seen from the outside of your home.
2. Don’t leave presents or groceries on display in your vehicle.
3. Don’t advertise the fact your home is unattended, including messages on your answering machine and on social networking sites.
4. Make it difficult for someone to break into your home – lock your shed and put away your tools.
5. If you’re out the back of your house don’t leave windows or doors open at the front.
6. If you’re away then ask someone to clear your mail.
7. Let your neighbours know you’re going to be away and give them your contact phone number.
8. Be careful when disposing of any tell-tale packaging from your new Christmas items.

ENDS

About AA Insurance
AA Insurance was launched in 1994 and is a joint venture between New Zealand Automobile Association and Vero New Zealand, which is part of the Suncorp Group.

We employ around 580 staff servicing more than 300,000 customers and manage over 500,000 motor, home and contents insurance policies.

AA Insurance was named as New Zealand’s best workplace at the 2011 Kenexa (formerly JRA) Best Workplaces Survey, winning the overall award and the large company category, and from 2008 to 2013 has consistently been a finalist.

AA Insurance was named winner of the 2013 Canstar Blue Most Satisfied Customers for Home and Contents Insurance, as well winning the award for Car Insurance for the third consecutive year.

We were also voted Most Trusted Insurer by New Zealanders in the 2011 and 2012 Insurance Providers category and the 2013 General Insurer category of the Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands survey, and received the 2012 and 2013 New Zealand Insurance Industry Award for Direct Insurer of the Year.

AA Insurance Limited has an A+ (Strong) Insurer Financial Strength Rating given by Standard and Poor’s (Australia) Pty Ltd. For further information visit www.aainsurance.co.nz.

We are proud to support youth charity Blue Light as its principle corporate sponsor.

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