Load Shedding and Insurance Risks

Managing Director Christelle Fourie of the MUA insurance company warns clients to be on their guard with regard to load shedding. She warns that this brings with it a number of risks for the South African homeowner. Homeowners need to take measures to lessen the risk of domestic robberies, and also damage to electrical appliances often caused by power surges during periods of load shedding.

Fourie goes on to say that surges in power results from load shedding and increases the supply of electrical current into the home, and to the electrical appliances contained therein. This heightened amount of electrical voltage into electrical appliances that are switched on can be damaging. The effect can be to cause a short circuit or even to damage the appliance beyond repair.

Load SheddingAdditionally, Fourie points out that damage to electrical appliances and equipment are often not covered when load shedding and intentional power outages occur. The norm is for such items to be insured only against damage caused by lightening, not for deliberate power outages. Policyholders should therefore check their policies, and take out additional coverage against damage and losses caused by power surges during this period of load shedding

Furthermore, in addition to the risk of electrical appliance damage, she referred to the latest crime statistics showing an upsurge in residential burglaries. This can be attributed to the fact that alarm systems often fail to work during power outages. Homeowners need therefore to have their alarm systems tested regularly, as it falls to the policyholder to ensure that their alarm system is maintained and fully operational. Should a burglary occur at a time when the system is found to be faulty or without a functioning back-up-battery, then any claim may be rejected. By ensuring that you have a fully functional alarm system and back-up-battery, if there is a power outage and a robbery occurs there should be no problem with making a claim. However, it is recommended that policyholders check their policies as not all policies are the same.

Fourie explained that there are several easy measures that policyholders can take to lessen the chances of a claim being rejected:

LOAD SHEDDING TIPS TO MINIMISE YOUR RISK

  1. Alarm companies should be requested to check the system frequently and to service it every two years. Electricity should be turned off to ensure that the back-up-battery is still functioning.
  2. Appliances should be switched off and unplugged during periods of load shedding to avoid damage through power surges.
  3. Surge protectors can be installed to prevent damage by power surges.
  4. Care should be taken at night if there is a power outage to ensure that any candles and lamps used do not accidently cause a fire.
  5. Be extra vigilant during periods without power as these are the times that criminals take advantage of households being without electricity, making them more vulnerable to a break-in.
  6. Ensure that your property is locked and secured during outages to reduce the chance of a break-in. A claim can be rejected if it is found that a homeowner fails to keep their property secure at all times.
  7. Backup batteries for electric gates and fencing need to be fitted and kept in good working order so that they function during power outages.

The electrical supplier Eskom has suggested that we will be encountering load shedding for some time to come, perhaps also over the Christmas holidays. Policyholders therefore need to seriously take action to make sure that they completely protected against losses resulting from load shedding, Fourie concludes.