Summer safety tips for campers
It’s summertime, which means it’s the best time of year to camp. While most people just want to relax, ICNZ is reminding people to check their contents cover is up to date to ensure they don’t find themselves bearing unnecessary, and sometimes heavy, costs if something goes wrong.
"Contents insurance is a must-have for campers," said ICNZ Chief Executive, Tim Grafton. "Contents insurance can cover your possessions both inside your home and when you take them out for short periods. It can also cover an insured’s liability if they negligently cause damage to another party’s assets, such as by knocking over a poorly-placed barbeque and setting fire to a neighbour’s tent."
The cost of not having contents insurance, and the liability cover it provides, can run into the millions of dollars. "Take the barbeque example above," said Grafton. "If that fire spread to the main office of the campground and burnt down the office and accommodations of the owners, the negligent barbeque owner might find themselves liable for the costs of the damage done - including any lost business to the campground. If the barbeque owner had contents insurance, their policy could cover their liability and save them having to pay hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars out of their own pocket."
Not all items are covered by contents insurance, however. If you own a campervan and have items inside it that are permanently stored in it, some contents policies might not cover those items if they’re not normally kept at your house. A separate campervan policy would likely provide the cover you needed but it’s best to speak to your insurer to make sure you’re covered for your specific circumstances.
Even if they have insurance, campers still need to take care of their possessions and try to avoid accidents. "Campers should still try to take reasonable precautions, such as locking up valuables when they’re not in use and not lighting fires where they could spread," said Grafton. "Your insurer will still be there to support you if something happens, but the best sort of holiday is one where nothing goes wrong to begin with."
The amount of liability cover provided and limits to cover for possessions outside the home can vary by policy so it’s always best to check with your insurer before you head off camping to understand exactly what you’ll be covered for.
Top 5 insurance tips for campers:
1. Take precautions - lock up your valuables when you’re not using them, leave anything expensive and unnecessary at stored securely at home, keep your car locked when you’re not using it, and be careful where you play sports, ride bikes or light fires.
2. Check with your insurer - some contents policies only cover items while they’re in the home so before you go camping, check with your insurer to make sure your contents will be covered when you take them to the campsite. And check whether your policy requires you specify any expensive items you may be taking, such as bikes or jewellery.
3. If you have a campervan, make sure you either take out campervan insurance or that your existing home and contents policies provide the cover you need. If in doubt, talk to your insurer.
4. Pay attention to the weather forecast during your stay and if severe weather is predicted, pack up sooner rather than later. Your insurance will cover any natural disaster that befalls your campsite but it’s better to not be there to begin with, if possible.
5. Let your insurer know if you’re going to be away for more than 60 days - many home contents policies are based on the expectation people will be resident in their houses most of the time and being away past this period without advising your insurer could invalidate your cover.