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Loadshedding-related claims soar: here’s how to protect yourself

Loadshedding-related claims soar: here’s how to protect yourself
29-09-22 / Sisanda Ndlovu

Loadshedding-related claims soar: here’s how to protect yourself

Johannesburg - Insurer King Price says it has settled more than R21 million in claims in the past 14 months alone due to damages sustained through power surges and dips, most of which were caused by loadshedding – and it expects this figure to rise as the country veers between high stages of loadshedding territory again.

Wynand van Vuuren, the client experience partner at King Price Insurance, said the claims were registered in the period from 1 July 2021 to 19 September 2022, and are all related to power surges and dips that affected buildings, home contents and portable possessions. Lightning-related claims are specifically excluded from this figure.

"We're getting a growing number of claims for 'fried' computer equipment, fridges, TVs and even electrical distribution boards caused by power surges," said Van Vuuren. "As a result, we're asking our policyholders to install surge protectors to protect their appliances, and to make sure their generators and back-up power systems are installed professionally to ensure they're covered by insurance."

It's also important to check your home contents insurance to see if you're covered for damage from power surges, says Van Vuuren. In general, consumers should be able to claim these damages directly from their municipality, but this isn't always viable. If you're insured for electrical damage due to power surges and dips, you can claim directly from your insurer, who will then claim from the municipality on your behalf.

According to the Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance (OSTI), 11% of home contents claims disputes in 2020 were related to power surges, and this increased to 16% in 2021. Some home contents insurance policies don't include cover for loss or damage caused by power surges, while other policies only cover power surge damage for an additional premium on request.

There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from power outages and surges.

Install surge protectors and UPS

Surge protectors and UPS (uninterruptable power supply) systems can go a long way towards protecting your most valuable appliances. A UPS allows your appliances to shut down properly when the power goes off, and protects your big ticket appliances from the power surges that often occur when the power comes back on. "If you can't afford a UPS, it's advisable to manually disconnect your more sensitive appliances from the power supply and reconnect them after the electricity is switched back on," says Van Vuuren.

Use alternative power supplies safely

Alternative power supplies must comply with safety guidelines, and they must be installed by a professional. Portable generators are relatively cheap and easy to operate, but must be correctly linked to your power supply: simply plugging a generator into a house plug is known as back-feeding, and it's not only dangerous, but will result in any damage not being covered by insurance.

 "Whether you're using a generator or an inverter, make sure they power your electric fence, gate and alarm as well, as burglars are all too quick to exploit opportunities caused by power outages. If you don't have an alternative power supply, make sure your fence, gate and alarm have a battery back-up," says Van Vuuren.

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