21/06/2018 04:00 BST | Updated 21/06/2018 04:00 BST

Does Your Insurance Cover The Risks Associated With Loadshedding?

Now may be the best time to check, advises an insurance expert.

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Eskom has indicated that "rotational loadshedding" in the evenings remains a possibility this week, although the chances of it happening during the day are low, as talks over wages continue.

The power utility introduced loadshedding last week, following industrial action by workers demanding a wage increase.

While loadshedding is not welcome news, especially during cold weather, an insurance expert says it may be an opportune time for South Africans who are insured to check if they're adequately covered and that their policies include specific risks that are unique to loadshedding.

Loadshedding can cause great damage to electronic equipment, for example, resulting in unfortunate insurance claims. Loss of goods because of theft or burglary may also occur during power cuts, leading consumers to claim from their insurance companies.

It is also important to note that these power surges can lead to electrical fires, with the entire house at risk of burning down.

"In the case of loadshedding, for example, the battery of the alarm system plays a major role and policyholders should ensure that their alarm-system batteries are tested regularly to ensure that maximum protection is provided. Also, loadshedding can dramatically reduce the lifespan of an alarm battery, and should the battery be older than one year, consumers should make the necessary arrangements to either replace or check the battery," said Christelle Colman, executive for high net-worth solutions at Old Mutual Insure.

"When the loadshedding period ends and electricity has returned, in most cases a power surge occurs due to a boost in the electrical charge in the power lines, increasing the current flow of electricity to the wall outlet. As a result, appliances and other electronic devices in households might short-circuit or malfunction," explained Colman.

"It is also important to note that these power surges can lead to electrical fires, with the entire house at risk of burning down. We saw a number of home fires during the previous period of sustained loadshedding," she added.

This is why it's important to ensure that you're adequately covered. When you are underinsured for certain loadshedding risks and have not taken the necessary safety precautions, it could lead to further frustration when an insurance company is unable to settle a claim.

Colman provided the following tips that South Africans should follow to protect their electronics during loadshedding:

  • Unplug appliances that are not in use;
  • Install surge protectors to prevent damage from power surges;
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed during power cuts to prevent food from spoiling;
  • Test your alarm system and back-up battery regularly;
  • Ensure that your electric fencing and gates still work during power cuts;
  • Request more regular patrols and checks from your security company;
  • Be vigilant when driving at night in unknown areas, as it can be difficult to see where traffic lights are when the lights are down and this can lead to severe car accidents; and
  • Keep your phone charged at all times and have your home and roadside emergency numbers handy to ensure quick access to emergency services if need be.