6th July 2015

Insurance claims spike over power cut harm

Electricity surges due to load shedding can damage domestic appliances, from fridges and computers to TVs and and decoders.

Short-term insurance companies have been inundated with claims for broken household appliances and equipment during the last six months, when load shedding has been a frequent occurrence.

Insurance firms are warning South Africans to do as much preparation for load shedding as possible.

All the companies the Saturday Star spoke to said their highest number of claims were for TV sets, fridges and DVD players which had malfunctioned because of electricity surges.

Radiokop resident Henry Uys said the area had experienced load shedding a week ago. Prior to that they had a power outage that lasted for almost 14 hours.

He and his wife had not checked their appliances until the morning after the power was restored.

“It is only when we switched on our TV that we realised it wasn’t functioning.

“We assumed something went wrong when the main power switched on.”

Uys said they were in the process of claiming for a new TV set from their insurance.

Henry’s father, Andre Uys, said his TV and DStv decoder also had been damaged after a power surge.

He claimed for a new TV set from his insurance company IntegriSure.

“Unfortunately, I had to purchase the decoder out of my own pocket because it is not covered. I bought a new TV but of course you don’t get it for the same price,” he said.

Henry and André Uys are two of thousands of people across the country whose household equipment has been damaged by load shedding.

Claims departments warned homeowners to consider power outages as a sudden and unforeseen event.

Disconnecting all electronic equipment from wall outlets and using power protectors was important.

There has been an increase in power-surge related claims since October 2014. We have also seen several instances where burglaries or robberies occur because alarms were not activated.

That said, we cannot say for sure that this is a direct result of load shedding.  Most insurance policies stipulated that a house’s alarm must be activated at all times when it was unoccupied.

If your house is burgled during a power cut, then your theft-related cover would be met. We believe that load shedding is beyond the control of our customers and, therefore, they should not be penalised for it. As such, each case will be considered based on its own merits.

Since load shedding is a planned event, it is important that consumers ensure they have additional cover for their business as well.

Insurance risks covered during power cuts were fire from the use of candles, the risk of electrocution, exhaust fumes, fire and burns from generators and opportunistic robbery, theft and burglary resulting from tripped and false-alarm triggers.

Source: Saturday Star

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