The much-awaited Gauteng summer rains have arrived bringing with it severe lightning, thunderstorms, hail and the potential risk of tornadoes, a relatively new phenomenon to South Africa. According to reports, 17 tornadoes have ripped across parts of South Africa in the last decade.
As climate change continues to shift weather behaviour, extreme weather such as the one seen in Kwa-Zulu Natal resulting in flooding and tornadoes presents ongoing challenges to homeowners in putting the necessary precautions in place and securing their property. The flooding in Durban resulted in an estimated cost of repair of over R650m leaving many families without a roof over their heads.
Your home is more than just a shell consisting of bricks, mortar, appliances and furniture, classified as itemised contents in an insurance policy. A home represents the core of a family’s sense of belonging. It is a place of sanctuary and refuge and contains, priceless memories and experiences to which no value can be attributed.
The roof is the most vulnerable and likely to be first to get damaged. The harsher the weather, the greater the damage. The key in ensuring your home is prepared for the onslaught is maintenance which ensures that claims are settled without question.
In 2018, the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance (OSTI) stated that it received complaints related to claims for damage caused by acts of nature, including storms, from 58% of policyholders.
According to the South African Insurance Association 2019 Annual Report, there was a spike in claims on damaged property resulting from heavy downpours and hailstorms that was experienced in Gauteng at the beginning of November 2018. The flash floods in Limpopo and North West in December 2018 also resulted in high number of claims from extensive damages to both residential and commercial property.
In 2019, approximately 350 number of claims were made to PPS for homes damaged due to hail, storm and wind. As the saying goes – prevention is better than cure. a well-maintained home is less likely to suffer the same frequency and severity of loss / damage that a poorly maintained home would.
Home owners should look out for the following and treat it immediately to avoid serious long-term damage that will take longer to repair and eat a hole in your budget.
1. Loose/cracked tiles
Tiles placed on the roof may crack or become loose and with rainfall, water will start seeping through those holes causing damage to walls, ceilings and floors, which could be costly to repair.
2. Blocked gutters and drains
Gutters and drains that are not cleared of all debris, will not be able to do their job properly, i.e. to drain water from the roof. Falling leaves, tree branches and other debris build up in the gutters, causing a blockage. This contributes to pooling of water on the rooftop or in the gutter resulting in water draining down the walls, causing possible damage to the foundation.
Also remember that acidic rain contains chemicals that can harm the exterior of your property such breaking down the paint quicker than usual.
3. Improper sealing of windows
Improper sealing of windows can become an issue especially in aging homes. Window frames can become damaged due to varying weather conditions, causing water to seep into the house, resulting in flooding.
4. Ceiling discolouration
If you see signs of water rings or discolouration of your ceiling, chances are that there is a water leakage. This could be due to a leaking pipe in the ceiling or wall, or damage to the waterproofing membrane. A ceiling is costly to replace in addition to causing disruption and discomfort.
One in seven homeowners have experienced issues with either their fence or boundary walls. Wooden fence posts are likely to rot at ground level and walls may
show signs of age. It is always a good idea to check which boundaries you are responsible for and make sure you maintain them regularly.
If you experience weather-related damage to your home, report the damage to your insurance company immediately so that an assessor can be dispatched to review the situation. Do not discard any damaged goods as it could prejudice the claim. Remember that home insurance does not cover gradual damage, so leaving things like leaking water until the damage is significant, will cost more money and could potentially put you at risk of having the claim rejected.
Lastly, read and understand your policy, its covers and exclusions. Whilst your insurance provider is responsible to take you through the policy, it is recommended that you make sure your policy schedule is accurate and that you have required cover that you need. Don’t forget to read the fine print of what is in and what is out of cover as well as the T&C’s of the policy.
By: Wilma Van der Walt, Executive: Customer Experience and Operations at PPS Short Term Insurance
PPS boasts in excess of 200 000 members who enjoy access to a comprehensive suite of financial and healthcare products that are specifically tailored to meet the needs of graduate professionals.
PPS is the largest South African company of its kind that still embraces an ethos of mutuality, and all PPS profits are allocated to PPS members with qualifying products on an annual basis by way of allocations to their PPS Profit-Share Accounts. Those members with qualifying products, who also hold products with PPS Investments and Profmed, will also share in the profits of PPS Investments and PPS Health Administrator, respectively.
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