Load shedding: Are you properly covered?

Insurers warn against the risks

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Image: 123RF/Valery Bond

Load shedding is not only an inconvenience, but it can cost you dearly.

If you are not sufficiently covered for damage to equipment because of load shedding, you may be in for a nasty surprise.

While Eskom announced that planned power cuts are unlikely until January 13 because of lower electricity demand, insurance companies are urging South Africans to review their insurance policies.

Load shedding raises the risk of damage and loss to your household equipment and goods. Power surges that can occur when electricity is restored can damage electrical equipment. Prolonged or regular outages can also damage the battery backups running your home security and electric gates, among others. And most frighteningly, prolonged outages that compromises security could result in burglaries and theft.

Insurance brokers Aon and insurer Santam have both recently urged consumers to check their policies and consider revisiting their cover in the light of increased risk posed by load shedding.

The reality is, load shedding has an immense impact both on consumers and businesses, who must cope with the damage to appliances brought on by power surges or risk loss through theft and burglary because of faulty security measure, says Marius Neethling, Personal Lines Underwriting Manager at Santam.

He urged households to revisit their insurance cover and obtain advice from their brokers to prevent any negative surprises.

According to Aon power surges spell disaster for sensitive equipment like computers, TVs, fridges and sound systems among others.

Aon advises consumers to leave appliances unplugged when not in use and have good quality surge protection at all plug points.

“Better still, get a qualified electrician to install surge protection onto your main distribution board. Some insurance policies have surge protection specified as a requirement of cover, so check your policy wording.”

Santam has surge protection, as an additional optional extra.

Another common complaint during load shedding is of spoilt food, says Neethling. He says Santam will cover the contents of fridges and freezers if there is accidental spoilage due to a change in temperature, but this is only if the power cut exceeds a period of 24 hours.

Going off the grid also comes with its own risks, warns Aon.

“Many people are installing generators and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in a bid to reduce their dependence on the grid. All such interventions come with their own risks, so it is essential that you understand what these are and ensure that all work is done by qualified installers.” 

Your insurer will need an electrical certificate of compliance (COC) for any electrical work done at your home should the need for a claim arise. A COC will show that all work was done to required safety standards and regulations.

Aon observed that generators and solar panels are increasingly being stolen. “If you do go down this route, make sure to secure your equipment and ensure it is sufficiently specified and covered by your policy.”

The bottom line is that it is always prudent to be proactive. Both Aon and Santam advise consumers to  ensure they are covered for every eventuality.

 

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