ARE YOU IN­SURED AGAINST POWER surges?

If you don’t know the an­swer right away, you are in for a nasty sur­prise, writes Maya Fisher-French

CityPress - - Front Page -

If you haven’t spec­i­fied with your in­sur­ance com­pany that you need cover for power surges, you will re­ceive a nasty shock when your elec­tronic goods are fried dur­ing load shed­ding – as City Press reader Michael re­cently dis­cov­ered. “I have faced a huge fi­nan­cial set­back with my gate mo­tor, alarm sys­tem and three TV sets, which were all dam­aged by load shed­ding,” he says.

He wants to know if he can lodge a claim with the City of Joburg.

The City of Joburg has stated that in­sur­ance claims as a re­sult of load shed­ding will be con­sid­ered in the same man­ner as pot­hole dam­age to ve­hi­cles.

How­ever, given the sheer vol­ume of claims, it may take some time be­fore one is suc­cess­ful, and it may be chal­leng­ing to prove that the dam­age was re­lated to load shed­ding.

Chris­telle Fourie, MD at MUA In­sur­ance Ac­cep­tances, says most poli­cies do not au­to­mat­i­cally cover dam­age as a re­sult of load shed­ding be­cause it is ex­tra cover that must be added to cer­tain poli­cies.

So it is worth speak­ing to your in­sur­ance com­pany or bro­ker to find out if your pol­icy does cover dam­age as a re­sult of load shed­ding – specif­i­cally, surge dam­age. If it doesn’t, find out how to add this cover to your pol­icy.

“If you are in­sured with a com­pany that is not pre­pared to pro­vide you with this type of cover, it would be ad­vis­able to con­sider mov­ing to another in­sur­ance provider,” says Fourie in light of the fact that load shed­ding and power surges are a re­al­ity for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Not sur­pris­ingly, in­sur­ance com­pa­nies are see­ing an in­crease in claims re­lated to power surges. For ex­am­ple, if a cell­phone is left to charge dur­ing load shed­ding, the power surge will likely dam­age the phone when the elec­tric­ity comes back on.

“Cell­phones can be com­pletely dam­aged when the power comes back on due to a spike in elec­tric­ity flow, and the same would ap­ply to all other elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances, in­clud­ing com­puter equip­ment,” says Fourie.

She says her com­pany is also see­ing an in­crease in bur­glary claims due to alarm sys­tems and elec­tric fenc­ing be­ing ren­dered in­op­er­a­ble be­cause the backup bat­ter­ies run out dur­ing ex­tended pe­ri­ods of load shed­ding.

WHAT WILL YOUR IN­SUR­ANCE COVER?

Based on in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by San­tam, pol­i­cy­hold­ers can re­ceive the fol­low­ing pro­tec­tion, but not all pro­tec­tion is au­to­matic:

Losses caused by theft if bur­glar alarms do not op­er­ate be­cause of a power cut. Pol­i­cy­hold­ers are pro­tected if the alarm-re­sponse com­pany is also un­able to at­tend to an alarm ac­ti­va­tion. Con­sumers need to en­sure that their alarms are in work­ing or­der and that backup bat­ter­ies are charged.

Losses at residential build­ings if dam­age is caused by an in­sured peril, such as light­ning or a fire.

Power surges are not cov­ered, but cover for power surges is avail­able as sep­a­rate cover. If a power surge causes a fire, the fire dam­age will be cov­ered by this sec­tion.

House­hold con­tents are pro­tected against power surges only if ad­di­tional op­tional cover is taken out and if the in­sured per­son se­lects the op­tional me­chan­i­cal, elec­tri­cal or elec­tronic break­down op­tion.

Even so, this still ex­cludes loss or dam­age to por­ta­ble com­puter equip­ment, cell­phones and the cost of re­pro­duc­tion or re­pair of data.

Ma­chin­ery pro­tec­tion from power surges is also only avail­able as an op­tional cover at an ad­di­tional pre­mium.

This will pro­tect against ac­ci­den­tal dam­age to ma­chin­ery caused by sud­den and un­ex­pected dam­age to all fixed ma­chin­ery and equip­ment used solely for do­mes­tic pur­poses, such as swimming pools, Jacuzzis, bore­holes, sprin­kler ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems, elec­tric gates and garage doors.

The ma­chin­ery must be in­stalled on the premises of the in­sured build­ings.

In the case of loss of, or dam­age to, the con­tents of fridges and freez­ers, the con­tents are cov­ered if there is ac­ci­den­tal spoilage of the con­tents due to a change in tem­per­a­ture.

Food spoilage due to any au­thor­ity (such as Eskom) in­ten­tion­ally cut­ting off the power sup­ply is ex­cluded, un­less the out­age takes place for more than 24 hours.

In­sur­ance cover will be in place for in­stances where the in­ter­rup­tion oc­curs as a di­rect re­sult of loss or dam­age to the elec­tric­ity gen­er­at­ing author­i­ties’ prop­erty and/or equip­ment.

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