Home security tips for the holiday season

Holidays should be a memorable time, involving family, friends, presents, and overeating – not having your house broken into. Unfortunately, it can be a popular time for burglars to strike, with the Christmas and New Year period usually seeing a spike in property offences around Australia.

Check out our eight Christmas home security tips before you kick off the silly season.  

8 ways to protect your home during the holidays

1. Don’t make it obvious that you’re away

It might not feel like it, but the world keeps turning at home, when you’re sipping cocktails on a beach somewhere (or making small talk at your in-laws). That means your mail is still going to be delivered, the rubbish collector will still come around, and newspapers will still be thrown on your lawn. These can all signal that there’s nobody home.

If you have a trusted neighbour or friend who lives nearby, you could ask them to put your bins out and bring them in, collect your mail, and even do a bit of yard maintenance if you’ll be gone for a while. You can also pause your newspaper or magazine subscriptions and have Australia Post temporarily hold your mail.

2. Let there be light!

One sure-fire way to look like you’re not at home? Keep your home dark and quiet 24/7. Timer lights are a great way to give the appearance of movement for a couple of hours each night. You can buy ones that you can control from your phone anywhere in the world, and set up to turn on and off at certain times.

Motion sensor lights fitted to the outside of your property may also work in warding off thieves that find themselves wandering up your driveway.

3. Make sure you’re not underinsured

Despite your best efforts, a burglar may still slip through your defenses. So, it pays to be adequately insured. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) estimates that more than 80 percent of homeowners and renters are underinsured.

Unsure if you’ve correctly valued your home and contents? Our Building and Contents calculators may help. You can also learn more about underinsurance here.

GIO Classic Extras and GIO Platinum Home Insurance features Safety Net Home Protection. So in the case of inflation or price spikes (which means the costs of repairing or rebuilding exceeds your sum insured), you’ll have an added financial buffer.

If you have GIO Classic Home Insurance you can add Safety net home protection as an optional extra.

With Safety Net Home  Protection, we’ll increase your sum insured if the cost of repair or replacement exceeds your existing sum insured. We’ll increase it by:

  • Up to a further 25% if you have Classic or Classic Extras Cover.
  • Up to a further 30% if you have Platinum Cover.

Please refer to the PDS for more info.

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4. Be careful with packaging

If you’re lucky enough to have been given some great gifts and you want to keep them, be careful when disposing of the packaging. Putting a giant TV box out on the lawn next to your recycling bin is basically free advertising for would-be thieves. Even hiding smaller packaging for new gadgets and technology inside your wheelie bin can be dangerous.

Try to avoid putting out the obvious rubbish too early, instead timing it with collection time. Also, shred documents that contain personal information, such as receipts.

5. Be careful on social media

Is there any point planning a holiday if you’re not going to make your friends jealous with a few (hundred) social media posts? The problem is, posting things like airport check-ins, brags about your latest bling, and vacay countdowns can make you a prime target for burglars.

Holiday goers might want to consider keeping off social media, or at least waiting until you’re home to post the happy snaps. If that seems a bit drastic, at least keep your privacy settings on lockdown so only your immediate network can see what you’re up to. Also, make sure you don’t have anyone on your friends list that you don’t know personally. You may have added a semi-stranger years ago and not thought much of it, so it could be worth doing a festive social media friends cull.

6. What’s in the window?

If you have an easily accessible window, especially one that faces out to the street, having a huge, well-decorated tree on display for all to see might not be the best idea. As festive as it is, it could highlight your house as one to target.

Particularly if you’re going away, make sure you keep things away from obvious sight, or even close the curtains on exposed windows.

7. Don’t use indoor plugs for outdoor Christmas lights

Many people plug their outdoor lights into an indoor power outlet and run the wires under the window. This isn’t the smartest idea. Considering that 30% of break-ins occur through windows, providing a gap for burglars to get through makes your home more vulnerable.

If you don’t have outdoor plug sockets, solar-powered and battery-operated lights can be a great (and more cost-efficient!) alternative.

8. Update your home and contents insurance policy

If you’ve received a particularly hefty holiday haul, the amount you’d need to replace your contents may have increased. If so, you should update your policy with an accurate sum insured (i.e, the maximum amount you’ll be paid if you ever need to make a claim) as soon as possible. With GIO, you can do that easily by logging into Online Services or calling us on 13 10 10.

Haven’t got insurance? It can be a great way to feel that extra peace of mind if, despite your best efforts, a burglar takes your precious valuables. GIO offers both Home and Contents and Contents Only insurance policies, so you can find the best product according to your needs.

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. The Target Market Determination is also available. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.