Risks of keeping store accounts open, rules to claim after laptop theft explained

The interest on store accounts is higher than that charged on credit card accounts, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler warns in this 'Watch outs of the Week' column.
The interest on store accounts is higher than that charged on credit card accounts, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler warns in this 'Watch outs of the Week' column.
Image: www.pexels.com

In this new weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use:

Can you prove you own that laptop?

Insurance fraud is rife, so if you claim on your policy for stolen goods, expect an assessor to ask you to prove you owned that laptop or piece of jewellery.

Last week @Alusani T asked her insurer via Twitter: “During a claim, if I give you proof of delivery of an item, is that not proof enough  I had the item? Or am I the criminal here, because it sure feels like I am the criminal. Why did you not come to my house to confirm before agreeing to cover me?”

The insurer, 1st for Women, did what most corporates do - they responded with a “Please DM us your contact details and policy number. Our team will contact you to discuss.”

@Alusani T responded: “Before I do that, please just answer me here. This is also to help other customers.”

The company came back with the same “Please DM us” response. Disappointing.

Details about specific cases are best discussed privately but general information should be shared publicly for the benefit for all.

So, let me oblige.

To my mind, a detailed delivery notice should suffice as proof you possessed the stolen item, but ideally you should do a lot more to prepare yourself for investigation by an insurance assessor.

Keep your receipts, for starters. Make copies or take photos of receipts for big ticket items as receipts fade quickly. Then take photos of your insured stuff and keep them in a computer folder. Also send the photographs to your insurer.

The SA Insurance Association’s Code of Conduct states that all material information must be obtained by the insurer at the time of underwriting, and not at claims stage.

However, in reality a lot of that time-consuming underwriting happens at claims stage.

Make sure the premium you are paying for your car or household contents will actually pay off at claims time by finding out in advance what boxes you will have to tick in order to have a successful claim.

Can a tenant stop an estate agent conducting viewings?

“Are estate agents allowed to traipse strangers around homes with tenants in them during lockdown level 3 when family isn’t allowed to visit?” That’s what “Rene” wanted to know.

For someone who has chosen to continue to isolate at home, as coronavirus infection rates increase alarmingly - especially those at highest risk of contracting the virus - it’s a valid question.

The Estate Agency Affairs Board has provided the answer to that in a set of guidelines.

“The occupant should be advised not to be present in the property at the same time the estate agent views the property with the potential client.

“Should they not able to leave the property, or remain outside, they will be encouraged to remain in the another section of the property."

However, they can’t “invade” a tenant’s home if they refuse.

"The current occupant will be required to give the necessary consent prior to potential clients being brought to their property.”

Full guidelines here:

Store accounts: easy to open, hard to close

Ask someone how much interest they are paying on the outstanding balance on their store account, and there’s a very good chance they have no idea. The interest on those accounts is high. It is higher than that charged on credit card accounts.

Financial gurus always advise those wanting to get on top of their debt to start by paying off and closing those store accounts. But that’s often easier said than done.

You may get a “paid up” letter, but chances are that account will remain open, with your full credit limit available. That leaves you open to fraud, and could affect your credit score.

Insist on the account being closed, and demand written confirmation. It’s your legal right - Section 122(1) of the National Credit Act states that a consumer may terminate a credit agreement at any time, provided the settlement balance is paid.


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