Eskom announced that Stage 6 load shedding will be implemented from 13 September, and will continue “until further notice”. As the levels of load shedding increase, so does the frequency of rotational power cuts, which have a direct impact on increased risk of damage to sensitive electronic items due to power surges, fires, and crime due to security systems not operating properly.
Greta Goosen, Head of Customer Experience at MiWay Insurance, offers six tips on how consumers can safeguard their property and assets from the effects of stage 6 of loadshedding:
1. Double-check your backup battery
Touching on some of the associated risks that accompany loadshedding, consumers need to ensure that the backup battery for their electric fencing or alarm system can withstand power outages for longer periods of time. This is an important factor to bear in mind given that opportunistic criminals may aim to capitalise on security system failures when the lights go out.
2. Stay alert
When there is a power outage, be cautious and take extra care to check your surroundings when arriving at or leaving your home, as there may be opportunistic criminals looking to take advantage of the darkness. Notify your neighborhood watch, an armed response company, or the police if you detect any unusual activity.
3. Be aware of the risks involving fire
Loadshedding also brings with it an increased risk of fire damage, given that South African households may be using alternatives such as candlelight or gas for heating or cooking. It’s important for homeowners to check whether their insurer provides cover for both fire and gas-related explosions, as well as what their responsibilities are in mitigating the risks that come with using energy alternatives.
4. Get your manual hat on
Make sure that you know how to manually operate electronic gates or garage doors in case of a power outage, so you can still obtain access to your home during a power outage. Remember to have the gate motor keys on hand and to install high-quality, well-oiled padlocks that can protect your home and assets should electronic devices fail during periods of loadshedding.
5. Check that you have the right insurance cover
Many South Africans may be concerned as to whether their home contents insurance policy covers damage related to power surges. The answer will depend on the insurer’s offering. MiWay’s home contents insurance policies give consumers the option of adding additional cover for power surges and power dips.
The best way to ensure that your policy is inclusive of this type of cover is to talk directly to your insurer. You can prepare for the conversation by creating a list of questions, all of which should form part of how you choose and negotiate with an insurer. Some of these questions include:
- Are there any electrical compliance issues I need to be aware of that will affect the cover I can apply for? And will the damaged item be covered for its full replacement value if it shuts down completely?
- Is having functional surge protection a prerequisite in the event of a claim?
- What is the excess that applies in the event that damage is incurred due to a power surge or dip?
6. Ensure a speedy claims process for loadshedding-related claims
The anxiety and worry of waiting for an insurance claim to be approved is enough to drive many up the wall. Luckily, the stress of claiming from insurance companies can be alleviated with the right approach and some research into what your insurer requires from you when claiming. Reading through your policy schedule will familiarise you with your claim requirements and make the claims process easier should the need arise.
In the event of needing to process a loadshedding-related claim, homeowners will need to first report any crime-related incident to the South African Police Service. In cases involving theft or vandalism, a police case number will be required to initiate the claims process.
Homeowners are also advised to collect as much information on how the property destruction or damage occurred. This may include affidavits by witnesses or bystanders, receipts of purchase to validate the worth of an item as well as photo and video evidence.