Consumers claiming for hailstorm damage could be in for a shock

'Many clients forget to adjust their policies'

15 November 2023 - 07:40
By Koketso Ratsatsi and Koena Mashale
A severe hailstorm hit Johannesburg on Monday, damaging cars and property.
Image: Freddy Mavunda A severe hailstorm hit Johannesburg on Monday, damaging cars and property.

Many consumers claiming damages caused by hailstorm could be in for a shock when their claims are rejected by their short-term insurer.  

This sentiment comes as a multitude of Gauteng dwellers, affected by Monday evening's storm, flock to insurance companies to claim for the damages they suffered to their homes and vehicles. 

Midrand was one of the cities hit by the hailstorm, with numerous videos emerging on social media showing residents taking photos of their damaged cars and hail that covered streets.

Digital insurance platform Naked said most of the claims they’ve received are for damages to cars, with around 20% relating to damage to buildings and homes.  

The insurer’s co-founder, Ernest North, said with the recent spike in alternative energy solutions being installed, they’re also “expecting significant damage to items such as solar panels”.  

“Many insurance customers forget to adjust their policies when they improve their homes by, for example, buying and installing solar panels,” he said.

Neglecting to update insurance coverage means consumers might have to pay out of their pocket after an incident like a hailstorm because they would not be able to claim for repairs.   

Assistant Ombudsman, from the short-term insurance ombudsman, Nekecia van Niekerk, said it’s important to remember that each insurer validates claims based on their policy’s terms and conditions and is entitled to reject a claim if it does not fall within the ambits of what’s covered. 

Financial advisor Wandile Mazibuko said comprehensive household and vehicle insurance is usually sufficient, however, consumers affected by the storm must check if their specific contract covers natural disasters.

Mazibuko said before lodging a claim, “a consumer must always go through the terms and conditions for their cover, as some insurance companies might have certain exclusions, especially in the areas that are prone to natural disasters”.   

Mazibuko emphasised that consumers need to act swiftly and lodge their claim within 30 days, to avoid it being rejected. To claim, Mazibuko advised consumers to submit a completed claim form, pictures of the damage and a police report where necessary. Thereafter, the insurer would guide the claimant on any outstanding information that may be required.  

He has further cautioned that dishonesty or non-payment of a premium could result in your claim being rejected. “Where you were dishonest in any way about the items to be covered at the start of the policy or where you are not completely honest about the incident, for instance claiming for wear and tear and not the actual damage caused by the storm.

"Also, failure to keep up with payments may result in your property or vehicle not being covered at the time of the damage.” 

For those who don’t have insurance, but whose cars were damaged by structures such as carports that belong to someone else, it is possible to institute a claim against the owner’s insurance.

In an instance where you have cover, “you can report it to your insurer and your insurance company may claim third party from the owner of the structure if he had covered the structure”, said Mazibuko.