Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

Safeguard your assets during load shedding


AS THE levels of load shedding increase, so does the frequency of rotational power cuts, which have a direct impact on increased risk of damage to sensitive electronic items due to power surges, fires and crime due to security systems not operating properly.

Greta Goosen, the head of customer experience at MiWay Insurance, offers six tips on how consumers can safeguard their property and assets during load shedding:

Double-check battery

your back-up

Ensure the back-up battery for your electric fencing or alarm system can withstand power outages for longer periods. This is an important factor to bear in mind, given that opportunis­tic criminals may aim to capitalise on security system failures when the lights go out.

Stay alert

When there is a power outage, be cautious and take extra care to check your surroundin­gs when arriving at or leaving your home, as there may be opportunis­ts looking to take advantage of the darkness. Notify your neighbourh­ood watch, an armed response company or the police if you detect any unusual activity.

Be aware of fire risks

Load shedding also brings with it an increased risk of fire damage, given that households may be using alternativ­es such as candleligh­t or gas for heating or cooking. It’s important for homeowners to check whether their insurer provides cover fire and gas-related explosions, as well as what their responsibi­lities are in mitigating the risks that come with using energy alternativ­es.

Get your manual hat on

Make sure you know how to manually operate electronic gates or garage doors in case of a power outage, so you can obtain access to your home during a power outage. Remember to have the gate motor keys on hand and to install high-quality, well-oiled padlocks that can protect your home and assets should electronic devices fail during load shedding.

Check that you have the right insurance cover

Many South Africans may be concerned about whether their home contents insurance policy covers damage related to power surges. The answer will depend on the insurer’s offering. Some insurers home contents insurance policies give consumers the option of adding additional cover for power surges and power dips.

The best way to ensure that your policy is inclusive of this type of cover is to talk to your insurer. You can prepare for the conversati­on by creating a list of questions, all of which should form part of how you choose and negotiate with an insurer. Some of the questions include:

What is the excess that applies in the event that damage is incurred due to a power surge or dip? Is having functional surge protection a prerequisi­te in the event of a claim?

Are there any electrical compliance issues I need to be aware of that will affect the cover I can apply for? And will the damaged item be covered for its full replacemen­t value if it shuts down?

Ensure a speedy claims process for load shedding-related claims

The stress of claiming from insurance companies can be alleviated with the right approach and some research into what your insurer requires from you when claiming. Reading through your policy schedule will familiaris­e you with your claim requiremen­ts and make the claims process easier should the need arise.

In the event of needing to process a claim related to load shedding, homeowners will need to first report any crime-related incident to the SAPS. In cases involving theft or vandalism, a police case number will be required to initiate the claims process.

Homeowners are also advised to collect as much informatio­n on how the property destructio­n or damage occurred. This may include affidavits by witnesses or bystanders, receipts of purchase to validate the worth of an item as well as photo and video evidence.

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