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Spring into action to get risk-ready

Article provided by Aon South Africa.

Spring has sprung and with it comes the time-honoured ritual of cleaning out the cobwebs and getting ready for the warm weather.  It’s also the perfect opportunity to divert some of that energy into tidying up your home and motor insurance policies, ensuring that you have the right cover in place that can stand the test of weather-related catastrophes.

“If you’re in a summer rainfall area, spring brings with it the potential for heavy thunderstorms and hail damage, while runaway fires are a serious risk in dry regions, especially the drought-stricken Western Cape.  Spring provides the perfect opportunity to get your home and vehicle risk ready,” says Mandy Barrett of insurance brokers and risk advisors, Aon South Africa.  Use this handy spring checklist to make sure your cover is in top shape: 

On the road: 

  • Avoid driving in heavy rainfalls and storms – Many car accident claims are due to slippery roads and treacherous potholes that are hidden in the water. Heavy rainfall can also cause potholes to appear where there weren’t any previously.
  • Don’t assume that you are covered for everything – remember to check your motor insurance policy for some covers which may not form part of your standard wording such as dent cover, tyre cover, hail damage cover and so on.
  • Check your tyre tread and replace worn tyres – an accident claim could potentially be repudiated if the tread is deemed insufficient to have stopped the vehicle in time. The legally required minimum tread depth is 1.6mm.
  • Keep to the following distance plus some more and slow down – after months of no rain, roads can become particularly slippery when wet as any oil and pollutants on the road surface will now wash free, creating an accident hazard.
  • Replace wiper blades – They have potentially not been used during the long and dry winter months and the middle of a downpour is certainly not the time to discover that they are not working as they should.
  • Is your vehicle insured for the retail value of the car? – Ideally, you want to be in a situation where your insurance can replace like for like and avoid being forced to compromise on the quality of your vehicle if this is not the case.
  • Who is driving your vehicle? Make sure that your policy covers any individual that may drive your vehicle with your permission. Open driver policies will cover any person with a valid South Africa drivers license who is driving your vehicle with your permission whilst other policies may contain a restricted driving clause.
  • Car hire – Does your motor insurance policy provide car hire in the event of an accident? Also check what would happen in the event of your car hire rental period running out before your car is fixed.  As we see more and more economic pressure on consumers and businesses, it is becoming common practice for vehicle repairers to not hold stock of vehicle parts that may delay or extend the repair time.
  • All Risks cover – Items that ‘travel’ with you and leave your home, such as jewellery, laptops, cell phones, bicycles and so on must be appropriately specified under your ‘All Risks’ section of your policy for the replacement value.

 At home: 

  • Check your roof for wear and tear – roof tiles and windows receive the most damage during a hail storm, which makes it important to check the quality of roof tiles and the thickness of window glass to protect against damage and injury. Replace any broken tiles and windows before the rainy season starts.
  • Keep gutters clear – Protect inlet/outlet pipes of any drains and storm water drainage against blockage from debris. Also address any waterproofing issues by checking and clearing out flashings on the roof.
  • Are your renewable energy solutions covered? – The increasing focus on green technology means that many households have solar geysers and solar PV panels for electricity generation that could be at risk during a very heavy hail storm. Check whether these items are included under your homeowners’ insurance cover and increase the sum insured on your policy to account for the additional value they add to your property.
  • In the event of a flood – Try to move as many of your belongings as you can out of the water – the longer the water is left sitting, the more damage it causes. Try and clear away as much of the water as you possibly can to prevent further and permanent damage.
  • Power Surge – Check your policy to ensure that your appliances are covered for power surge, and that you have power surge protector plugs on all your big ticket items. Install lightning rods along the outside of the house if your area is prone to lightning strikes.
  • Fire hazards – Minimise your home’s risk of fire by cleaning out the clutter and rid your home of unnecessary flammable materials such as dry garden debris, empty boxes, paper, chemicals and leftover paint. Check whether your insurance policy has any clauses related to fire extinguishers or smoke detectors and make sure you have them in place, for your own safety.
  • Water cuts – In dryer areas water shedding poses a risk to swimming pool, fish pond and irrigation pumps that are at risk of burning out if safety mechanisms fail in the absence of water. A geyser can also pose a potential risk. If you’re uncertain, have your appliances evaluated by a qualified plumber to check that all the necessary safety measures are in place.

In General:

  • Avoid under-insurance – Thanks to the rise in living costs, your home and motor vehicles could be significantly under-insured in the event of a major catastrophe. Make sure that your buildings, home contents and vehicles are insured for their replacement value and not the resale value.
  • Update valuation certificates – Valuation certificates on jewellery must be updated at least every two years to stay in line with inflation and currency fluctuations. Insurers will require valuation certificates that are dated prior to the loss or damage of an item to prove the value as well as ownership of an item of jewellery.
  • Update your asset register – Have you accumulated new electronics, clothes, computers, furniture, jewellery and other assets? The task of spring cleaning gives you an excellent opportunity to make sure your home inventory list is accurate and that new items are included under your cover.

According to Mandy, “Wear and tear and other maintenance related losses are one of the key reasons for a claim being rejected or the settlement being less than expected. Remember that insurance is there to cover sudden unforeseen circumstances which result in loss and/or damage to the property or vehicle, and does not cover damage as a result of negligence or wear and tear,” she warns.

“The advice and guidance of an independent and professional Aon broker is invaluable in doing a thorough needs analysis to make sure your policy provisions meet all your needs as they evolve. Spring is the perfect time to assess your policies and to make sure that you have the right cover in place that can weather any storm,” concludes Mandy.

Aon South Africa is a proud Partner of the NSBC.