Private insurers urge British Columbians: secure your stuff

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Giving away free home alarm monitoring as part of B.C. Crime Prevention Week

VANCOUVER, Nov. 3, 2008 – Canada’s private-sector home, car, and business insurers are pitching in to help British Columbians create safer communities. Today, as part of Crime Prevention Week, the industry announced a new contest that will see three lucky, and conscientious, B.C. families win free home alarm monitoring for a year.

The “Secure Your Stuff” contest, sponsored by Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), aims to get British Columbians involved in their personal safety and security by making them think about the small things they can do to help safeguard themselves and their belongings. B.C. residents can enter by submitting a one-page personal security plan, describing steps they have taken, or plan to take, to improve their personal security. Details at www.ibc.ca.

“There are simple things we can all do to improve our personal safety,” says Lindsay Olson, Vice-President, B.C., Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, IBC. “At home, locking doors, asking a neighbour to pick up newspapers while you’re away, installing a home alarm. These are things that will make a burglar think twice before targeting your home.”

Olson says personal safety should extend beyond your home. “When you’re out and about, don’t leave your valuables unattended. If you must leave your laptop or cellphone in the car, lock them in the trunk or somewhere a thief won’t see them. Also, don’t carry your keys together with ID that shows your address. If a thief has one, you don’t want them to have the other.”

Because crime does happen, IBC encourages British Columbians to make sure their home insurance is sufficient to cover all of their belongings. One way to make sure is by using IBC’s free “Know your Stuff” home inventory software.

“You can’t secure your stuff if you don’t know your stuff,” says Olson. “Keeping an inventory of your possessions makes it easier to know if you have enough insurance, and makes your life much easier if you ever need to make a claim.” The software can be downloaded at www.ibc.ca.

This year, the theme for Crime Prevention Week is “Creating Safer Communities through Assessment, Awareness and Action.” IBC strongly supports provincial efforts to help safeguard communities by promoting personal awareness and community vigilance. This will not only help to control crime rates, but will also contribute to maintaining stable insurance premiums.

Backgrounder:

Crime Prevention Week: November 1 – 7, 2008

Protect your belongings from thieves

“Break-ins are crimes of opportunity,” says Al Maggi, Manager, Marketing, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC). No one should make it easy for thieves. By taking a few simple steps, people can protect themselves and their valuable possessions from being stolen.”

At Home:

  • Always keep doors locked — an open door is an open invitation for a thief.
  • Change the locks whenever you move into a new house. Deadbolt locks offer the most protection.
  • Make sure your home’s exterior doors are solid and secure them with good double-barrel locks.
  • Install exterior lighting and motion detectors around your house. Lights will reduce the darkness a burglar finds useful. Mount them out of reach to prevent tampering.
  • Secure the door that leads into your house from the garage just as well as all other exterior doors. Also secure sliding glass doors and windows.
  • Consider installing a peephole in your front door. This will allow you to see who is knocking before you open the door.
  • Consider installing metal grills over your basement windows.
  • Give your home a “lived-in” look when you are on vacation. For example, use a timer to set lights to turn on and off, and ask a friend to pick up your newspapers and mail daily.
  • Install an alarm system in your home.

Develop good security habits

  • Develop a routine — make sure doors and windows are locked and your alarm system is armed even if you are going to be out of the house for just a few minutes.
  • Don’t hide your keys in so-called secret places outside your home.
  • Don’t carry house keys along with other pieces of identification that would allow a would-be burglar to learn your address.
  • Leave the radio on, preferably tuned to a station airing call-in shows, when you go out.

In Public:

  • Never leave valuables, especially cell phones and laptop computers, in plain view inside your vehicle. If you must leave valuables in the car, place them in the trunk or somewhere out of sight.
  • Place a hand on your purse when you are walking, instead of letting it dangle from your shoulder. Keep purses or bags containing valuables securely closed.
  • Never leave your purse, wallet or shopping bags unattended in a department store change room.
  • Put your purse, bag or wallet out of sight when you are at the office. Avoid leaving valuables in a coat or jacket hanging by the door.
  • Use a strong lock to secure your locker at the gym or fitness club.
  • Don’t keep valuable items in your locker.

Know your stuff

As well as taking every precaution to prevent theft, be sure that you have adequate insurance coverage for theft and break-ins.

Unfortunately, sometimes the worst happens: thieves succeed in stealing valuables, and you have to make an insurance claim. Be prepared; create a detailed home inventory that itemizes all of your belongings, room by room.

Free software is available to download from IBC’s website (www.ibc.ca) that makes it easy for you to take inventory of your possessions. The software allows you to upload digital pictures and provides you with the option to store your information in a secure location.

Make sure your insurance covers all of your possessions. Check with your insurance provider to find out whether you require a special insurance rider covering the full value of your jewellery, cameras or your collections.

Even if you are unlucky enough to be robbed, if you have prepared a home inventory, you will be in better shape when the time comes to make an insurance claim.

For more information about protecting your belongings: www.ibc.ca.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada:

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car, and business insurers. Its member companies represent nearly 95% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. The P&C insurance industry employs over 108,000 Canadians, pays more than $6 billion in taxes to the federal and provincial governments, and has a total premium base of $36 billion.