Eskom has implemented stage two of load shedding. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Eskom has implemented stage two of load shedding. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Are you covered sufficiently for damage and loss that could occur because of load-shedding?

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

Both insurance brokers Aon and insurer Santam have warned consumers against possible insufficient cover for household equipment and goods damaged, and, worse still, for being burgled because your security systems have been compromised because of load shedding.

Power surges when electricity is restored can damage electrical equipment. Prolonged or regular outages can also damage the battery back-ups running your home security and electric gates, among other things.

“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 as a result of faulty security measures,” 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 such as computers, TVs, fridges and sound systems. Aon advises consumers to leave appliances unplugged when not in use and to have good quality surge-protection at all plug points.

“Better still, get a qualified electrician to install surge protection in 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 optional extra, says Neethling. “Santam is ready to assist policyholders with any claims resulting from power cuts. For example, if additional cover is taken out, we will protect household contents against power surges,” says Neethling.

Fridges and freezers

Another common complaint during load-shedding is that of spoilt food, says Neethling, who 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 set of 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 observes that generators and solar panels are increasingly being stolen. “If you do go down that 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.