There are times when you know of power cuts in advance and can ensure that you’re adequately prepared. But other times, load shedding occurs in the early morning or overnight, leaving many household items at risk of being ruined.
According to Business Insider South Africa, the most frequent insurance claims being lodged are for TVs, computer monitors and routers. When electricity comes back after a few hours of load shedding, this can cause a power surge which in turn can cause instant damage to electrical appliances. Plastic and metal parts can melt, while circuits often burn.
Once this has occurred you may want to approach your insurer, but before you do so, here are a few things to keep in mind:
If you decide to switch from an electric to a gas stove, or instal a gas braai or even use an gas heater in your house, Cornerstone Insurance Brokers director Debbie Smart says you need to inform your broker or insurer the moment you do so.
“If you don’t, any claims relating to the gas system and its surrounds will most likely be rejected. Gas installations need to adhere to certain rules in order to be adequately insured, for example having a fire extinguisher installed or obtaining a certificate of compliance from a reputable gas installer. If you don’t have these, you will not be adequately covered.”
Check with your insurance if they have a list of accredited electricians, technicians and providers for alternate energy sources.
If you are thinking of going the off-the-grid route – with supplementing your power with generators, solar systems and inverters – make sure your insurance gives approval of providers.
“Incorrect installation of this may result in fire and these damages will not be covered in circumstances where installation was faulty,” according to a King Price spokesperson.
Generators are an increasingly viable option to keep homes and offices moderately functional during power cuts. There are, however, some guidelines to keep in mind to ensure that an insurance claim isn’t rejected because you had an alternative power source on your premises.
Make sure you get professional input on where to place your generator, advises Old Mutual Insure’s insurance expert Christelle Colman on Fin24.
“It is critical that generators are never used inside a home or enclosed workplace area as the emissions can cause asphyxiation. The heat from the generator or a faulty connection to your home’s power supply can also cause fire damage, which would not be covered as this would likely be deemed as negligence.”
There is also personal responsibility that many homeowners may not be aware of.
Load shedding affects security systems, such as gates, alarms and electric fences. If you have theft during a power cut, your claim may be rejected if you haven’t played your part.
“Many insurance policies require that you perform an annual or bi-annual alarm system check, which must be logged by your security company. Failure to do so could impact your claim,” Colman warns.