Five ways to protect your home and business from the impact of load shedding
Johannesburg - After a short reprieve over the festive season break, load shedding is back once again. While the country waits for new regulations and plans to provide much-needed relief, South Africans are faced with the fact that load shedding is likely to remain part of our lives for some time to come still. It's important to understand that the effects of load shedding may have far-reaching implications, particularly for one's short-term insurance cover. But there are a number of precautions that can be taken both at home and at work to help take back the power as much as possible.
On this topic, Bertus Visser, CEO of PSG Insure Distribution provides the following advice: "South Africans need to be aware that insurers will only honour claims that arise during loadshedding if the claimant can prove that they have complied with the terms and conditions of their policies and have the right type of cover. This is one of the reasons why it is vital to keep your policy up to date and ensure that you have a good understanding of what you have agreed to."
By way of an example, if an insurance policy states that you are a client of an armed response company and a burglary takes place during load shedding, the claimant will need to have ensured that their alarm system remained operational and connected to the alarm company via a back-up battery. Only under this condition will their insurance claim be considered.
Apart from the risks that loadshedding poses to one's personal property and belongings, there is a substantial, often costly, impact that is felt by business owners, whose operations are disrupted, or halted when the power goes off. To assist South Africans in planning for ways to mitigate these risks both at home and at work, Visser provides the following tips:
1. No more interruptions
Depending on the size of your business, investing in an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) can go a long way. A UPS can provide power for anything from a few minutes (allowing you time to shut down your computer safely) to several hours. You might even consider a generator if uninterrupted power is critical to operations. Remember that it is essential to maintain your generator and look after any power supply additions, and to insure them at the correct replacement values.
2. Surge central
On occasion when electricity is allowed to flow freely after a period of stoppage, a power surge can occur and can cause substantial damage to electrical equipment and appliances. To protect against this damage, consider adding surge protection to your plugs. Surge protection plugs and adaptors have become more widely available since the onset of loadshedding and are available at most hardware stores. These surge protectors will help prevent damage to equipment and limit the potential for fire.
3. Powering through congestion
Power outages are usually coupled with power congestions, which can destroy electronic equipment. By installing power congestion isolators on your main power distribution board, you can limit or prevent damage to items like computers, fridges or gate motors. Power congestion isolators can even reduce lightning damage, which can be especially useful if you are based in the Highveld. Coverage for power congestions is not standard on insurance policies, so it is best to check if you can add it.
4. Don't be alarmed
Battery life is crucial when it comes to your alarm or other systems and devices that have a battery back-up. Make a point to frequently check that any alarms, garages or gate systems are fully charged. Most batteries can keep the system going for at least eight hours, while some could have back-up power for as long as 24 hours. In addition, your insurance policy may state that you need to service your alarm, which would include checking that back-up batteries are working. Proof of maintenance may also become important, so it's worth noting any call-outs or check-ups accordingly.
5. Assess the alternatives
Solar power can give you freedom from relying on the grid. It can be costly to install (depending on the amount of power needed) but in the long-term, it can provide relief during power shortages and help you cut your power costs. Remember to factor replacement costs into your insurance and keep a record of any solar panels or systems purchased to prove ownership.
Visser concludes, "Remember to check the Accidental Damage section of your policy to see if you can add additional protection you may need – for example, extended cover for pool pumps or gate motors. Working closely with your adviser to keep all your insurance details up to date is the first step in fully protecting your business and home. Remember that having the right insurance in place equates to a much smaller cost than not having cover when you need it most."