Business & Economy

Friday, 15 January 2016 14:49

Is Your Insurance Cover Geared for Extreme Weather Conditions?

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Consumers advised to review insurance covers amid El Nino’s freak weather conditions

[Jan 2016]: It’s a scene of startling disparities. While emergency drought relief measures are desperately needed in most of South Africa’s key farming regions, Gauteng was battered over the weekend by powerful rain storms with golf ball-sized hail stones and raging winds.  Freak hail storms in the last three years caused severe property and vehicle damage, collectively costing the insurance industry a staggering R2.5billion in losses.

Insurance brokerage and risk advisory, Aon South Africa has advised South Africans to brace for continued weather extremities spurred by the El Nino phenomenon and climate change, driving insurance losses higher in coming months.  “The need to review insurance covers to make sure you are covered for weather-related catastrophes cannot be overstated,” says Mandy Barrett of Aon South Africa. 

Aon offers the following advice for policyholders filing hail storm damage claims:

  • - Confirm whether you are in fact covered for hail damage on your motor and home insurance, as hail cover is excluded on certain insurance policies, unless specified.
  • - Assess the damage as soon as possible and make a comprehensive list of all items and damage.
  • - Take photos of the damage if you can – this will be very helpful to the insurance assessor as well when they come to inspect the damage for repair purposes.
  • - Notify your broker or insurer of the claim as soon as possible - the timeframe is usually around 60 days but it is wise to check your policy wording as some insurers differ on this.
  • - Remember that some insurers work with pre-approved repair companies – check with your broker before you embark on any emergency repairs or you could find yourself having to pay a larger excess or your settlement being less than expected.
  • - Due to high claims volumes you could experience delays in repair due to the strain on available capacity of service providers and a shortage of materials, especially at the start of a New Year.

Consider the following to minimise your exposure to hail damage:

  • - Subscribe to a weather service or get onto your insurer’s SMS database to receive hail alerts.
  • - Avoid travelling in a heavy downpour or hail storm.  Pull over or try and get to a place of safety, that’s undercover as quickly as possible and wait it out.
  • - If a road is flooded, don’t attempt to drive through it.  There are countless cases of drivers thinking it’s a puddle, only to be swept away.
  • - Do not park under trees – falling branches pose a real risk in a powerful storm.  Find secure shelter under a solid structure if you can.
  • - If you are indoors during a hail storm, avoid skylights, windows and doors.

“Our current climate is a stark reminder of just how vulnerable we are to weather catastrophes. It is essential to review the terms and levels of your household and motor insurance on a regular basis so that you are not financially compromised in a worst case scenario.  Here a broker plays an invaluable role in the making of a well-rounded insurance portfolio that addresses every eventuality, takes your specific needs in account and suits your pocket,” concludes Mandy.

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