Tips to ensure your insurance claims are processed after severe weather conditions

As severe weather conditions are set to return, prepare yourself and your insurance coverage. Photo: Pixabay

 

Recent severe weather has cursed South Africa with disastrous hailstorms, rain and strong winds. The country witnessed roofs being torn off houses, roads being flooded and sweeping everything in their path, cars overturned and involved in accidents, uprooted trees and walls and most regrettably, people losing their lives. As those affected by the severe weather try to pick up the pieces, homeowners and insurance companies are experiencing a massive increase in insured losses.

South Africa has seen a marked increase in the frequency and intensity of severe weather conditions over the last six years and there is no denying the impact of climate change in the insurance sector.

The recent weather conditions reminded one of the hail storms that took place last year in Bedfordview during November, which claimed lives and caused massive damages to property and vehicles.

Mandy Barrett, insurance broker and risk advisors at Aon South Africa, said, “With much of October and November still ahead of us, traditionally the months that have tallied the most severe weather events and financial losses, there is a need for extra precautions.

The severity of the flooding and damage we are seeing is alarming and while there is little that you can do to prevent a flood, there are some important tips that can help protect your personal safety and assets in such freak weather conditions.”

Barrett advised the following:

On the road

  • Take note of weather warnings and if possible, avoid being on the road or out during such times.
  • Avoid driving in heavy downpours. Never attempt to drive through a flooded area of the road.
  • If caught in a flash flood on the road, get yourself to safety as quickly as possible. If you can, get out of the vehicle and get to high ground. Don’t close all the windows as the water will cause a vacuum and trap you in the car.
  • Many car accident claims are due to slippery roads and potholes. Tyre damage is a common occurrence and is normally not covered by a motor insurance policy unless another part of the vehicle is damaged at the same time.
  • 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.
  • Increase your following distance and reduce your speed to allow enough time to react.
  • Watch out for potholes as they are filled with water in rainy conditions. Heavy rainfalls can also cause potholes to appear where there weren’t any previously.
  • Watch for motorists swerving to avoid objects on the road and be prepared to do the same.
  • Many traffic lights are out of order during heavy rain, so drive carefully.
  • Roads are congested with many tempers fraying, keep your cool.

At home:

  • Your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover any damage to the structure of the building as a direct result of freak rainstorms but will not cover any maintenance-related damage. This means that while your insurance will respond by repairing the damage caused by a leaking roof, it will not cover the repair of the roof’s waterproofing if it deteriorated due to lack of maintenance.
  • If you’re faced with flooding of your property, 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.
  • Half a metre of paving along the perimeter of a building can help with damp problems.
  • Keep gutters clear of debris to facilitate proper drainage around the house. Protect inlet/outlet pipes of any drains and stormwater drainage against blockage from debris.
  • Check the waterproofing and flashings on the roof on a regular basis.
  • Install lightning rods along the outside of the house if your area is prone to lightning strikes and fit plugs with surge protection.

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  AUTHOR
Andile Dlodlo

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