Bad weather plays havoc

HAVE you ever felt guilt after a loss or damage when you know you should have done something to prevent it?

HAVE you ever felt guilt after a loss or damage when you know you should have done something to prevent it?

That guilt could paralyse you.

Floods in KwaZulu-Natal, a wet summer in Gauteng, flooding in Free State, gale force winds and drought in Eastern Cape, and freak storms in Western Cape have contributed to a spike in weather-related damage.

Similarly, wind storms in France and Spain, flooding in China and northern Europe and exceptional snow falls in the northern hemisphere last winter have seen a global spike in weather-related insurance claims.

The global warming theory, which is accepted by many governments, predicts that this kind of extreme weather conditions will become more frequent and intense.

Yet regardless of the veracity or otherwise of global warming, humanity remains susceptible to weather events - the timing and its extent remain unpredictable.

Alexander Forbes Insurance managing director Gari Dombo said "exceptional weather will soon manifests itself in infrastructural damage which can compound losses, further increasing insurance claims".

For example, in Gauteng, after this last summer's exceptional rains, cars were damaged in potholes and damaged roads than ever before.

Although weather-related damage is often unforeseen by the individual, consumers should not necessarily see themselves as the hapless victims of bad weather, said Dombo.

He said consumers can mitigate the direct or associated consequences of weather.

"There is a lot that consumers can do to prevent weather or natural disaster-related loss by anticipating what could go wrong, putting the right precautions and measures in place, and finding out, and rehearsing, the actions most appropriate to various disaster scenarios," said Dombo.

He offered the following tips to help you minimise your damages:

l Maintain the structure of your buildings properly. For example, make sure doors, window frames, sills and roofs are weatherproof.

l Make sure drains are in working order and not blocked. This includes municipal drains, gutters and embankments near your property that if blocked or damaged could cause damage to your own property.

l When possible, do not drive in bad weather conditions.

l Make sure that vehicle's windscreen wipers, lights and brakes are working and that tyres have sufficiently deep tread, if not this could result in your claim being repudiated.

l Park your car in a garage or carport during bad weather.

l Trim dead or overhanging tree branches to prevent them falling on to your property and causing damage.

l Install SABS-compliant lightning conductors if you have a thatched roof.

l Install surge-blockers in the circuitry of all electronic equipment.

l Unplug computers and other sensitive electronic equipment when not in use or during bad weather.

l Build or buy above-the-flood-line and thoroughly investigating how wind, water, drainage, power supply and access might affect your property in bad weather or during natural disasters.

l If you are buying a stand or already own property, find out whether it is above-the-flood-line when it is situated near a dam, river, or on a flood plain or drainage system.

l You should always build or buy above-the-flood-line on firm ground that cannot be affected by flooding or wave action during extreme conditions.

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