Insurance risks that woman face

Woman’s Month presents an opportunity for South African woman to step back from prioritising everyone else’s risk before their own and, instead, understand – and intelligently cover – what is important to them.  As a wife and a mother, “I know how easy it is to worry about whether your children’s varsity vehicles, laptops or sports equipment is safe. Whether the husband has renewed his vehicle cover this year. Organise all the travel cover. Is our household contents up to date?” says Colman. In the process, however, “we tend, at best, to under insure ourselves. At worst we ignore our own risk entirely,” she adds.  

Every woman should start by simply thinking about the contents of her handbag. Everything in it is valuable – and largely essential. “How much of your handbag contents – including the handbag itself if it’s a designer brand – is even insured?” asks Colman.  

Most handbags, for example, contain a smart phone, iPad or even a laptop or a Kindle. All have a purse. Most purses contain bank and credit cards as well as essential identification cards and licenses in addition to, often, large amounts of cash. Then there are car and house keys as well as home and work security and access cards. There is also often spare jewellery like a watch that needs a new battery, or a clasp repaired. Many women also often have expensive cosmetics, essential medication or valuable accessories, “like that second-hand Hermes scarf bought on a one-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris, now doubling as a face mask,” says Colman. 

In addition to all these items having both a personal and monetary value, they are also often very difficult – and time consuming – to replace. Their loss also, “poses a serious fraud and identify theft risk,” explains Colman. Not only do women routinely fail to insure the contents of their handbags, but when they do, they often under insure them. It is vital, for example, to make sure jewellery is insured for its replacement value. In the case of antique jewellery and other rare items it is not always possible to replace the item exactly, particularly period jewellery. As such, women should make sure that they have an accurate and up-to-date valuation certificate that includes the date at which the valuation was undertaken, “taking into account Rand-USD and gold price variation,” adds Colman. 

 There is also much confusion around the pricing of cover. When woman insure jewellery or other personal items, like designer clothing, shoes or handbags, they often provide an arbitrary figure, like, say, R20 000, believing that, “since it is unlikely that all my jewellery or clothing will get stolen at once, I only need a few thousand Rands of cover to insure the odd item that I may lose,” says Colman. This is a mistake. It is essential that women calculate their maximum exposure and insure for that value. “Think of the combined value of what you have in your designer handbag when out of the home wearing one of your most expensive creations,” says Colman. Then, with this figure in mind, check with your insurer which items need to be specified individually, as there is often, “an item limit applicable to single items that might require additional specific insurance,” advises Colman. 

Since every woman’s risk and the value of their possessions are different, Colman strongly advises South Africa’s women to speak to their insurer or the many very qualified brokers out there. These experts are able to provide, “an accurate assessment of each woman’s risks on an item by item basis,” says Colman. Since their advice is included in the policy premium, “use it,” advises Colman.  

While specifics and values may vary, the basic minimum covers that women should consider for themselves this Woman’s month include: 

  1. Household contents cover; 
  2. Personal all risks insurance covering items outside of the home worn on the person; 
  3. Specific insurance for jewellery, handbags and other collectable or intrinsically high-value items; 
  4. Identity theft cover; 
  5. Adequate travel insurance cover post COVID-19 with specific cover for medical expenses related to pandemics; 
  6. Roadside and home assistance cover with access numbers saved on phones for easy access. 

Women should also make sure that insurers are aware that they are listed as the main driver of all the vehicles that they legitimately drive, “as most insurers offer female drivers’ discounts,” adds Colman. 

It is high time that South Africa’s woman who, generally, shoulder a disproportionate burden of the worry and responsibility of looking after children, partners, parents and often even members of the broader communities in which they live, “take the time to understand their own risks – and cover these correctly, with the right policies and at the right values,” says Colman. It is pointless making sure everyone else in the family is covered if, “we continue to expose our families to risk and potential loss because we’ve failed to prioritise our own needs,” concludes Colman.  

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