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Santam warns Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal residents of severe weather, hailstorms

Santam warns Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal residents of severe weather, hailstorms
13-10-22 / Chris Smit

Santam warns Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal residents of severe weather, hailstorms

Cape Town - Santam, South Africa's largest general insurer, has advised residents in the hailstorm 'hot spots' of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to take the necessary precautions and exercise extreme vigilance in anticipation of the predicted hail season for these regions over summer.    

 A 2021 research report on the characteristics of hail hazard in South Africa based on satellite detection of convective storms, found that hail events concentrate mainly in the southeast of the country, along the Highveld and the eastern slopes. The research found hail events are most frequent from around mid-November through February and peak in the afternoon, between 13:00 and 17:00.

Philippa Wild, Santam's head of Commercial Lines Underwriting, says these severe hailstorms can cause costly damage to cars and infrastructure. "Varying from marble-sized to full-sized golf balls, hailstones can measure up to 7 cm in diameter, so it is easy to see why they do so much irreparable damage to vehicles and property. Windscreens are shattered, vehicles dented, roofs damaged, and house and business windows broken."

Wild explains the cost to repair and replace vehicles varies according to the severity of the storm and damage done to the paintwork, windows, etc. "Not only can the costs be crippling, but clients might also experience delays in the repair of damaged motor vehicles due to a global shortage of parts caused, among others, by COVID-19 and other supply-chain challenges related to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the flood damage to vehicle-manufacturing plants and the harbour in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this year, as well as international lockdowns in China and Taiwan.

"Furthermore, load shedding causes significant disruptions at the premises of our motor service providers through possible delays, which negatively impact our delivering a consistent service experience that is aligned with our clients' needs and expectations."

So, how can South Africans in these regions prepare for hailstorms? Wild offers some tips to help Northerners activate disaster preparedness:

In the event of hail:

  • Drive slowly – slower driving minimises the damage of hail and combats slippery roads.
  • Locate a safe, covered area immediately or pull over under an overpass, provided it is safe to do so.
  • Undercover parking at malls and petrol stations is a good temporary solution to protect your car during a hailstorm.
  • Stay inside the vehicle. Large hail stones pose a genuine injury threat.
  • Keep fleecy blankets in your boot so you can cover your car to minimise the impact of hail.

If you do have damage:

  • Take careful note of the extent of the damage to your car; look for damage to all glass items, including side mirrors, taillights, and head lights. Take pictures as they may be useful when it comes time to claim.
  • If you are affected by hail, immediately report the incident to your insurer.

When you are at home or at your business:

  • Keep your gutters clean. It is important to clear gutters regularly of leaves, twigs, and any other debris. Clear the hail from your roof/gutters as soon as it is safe to do so. Hail takes a while to melt, and an overflowing gutter could lead to a leaking roof and further damage. Hail build-up is also heavy, so make sure the guttering is sound and in good order.
  • Trimming trees close to your house and business helps get rid of branches that can cause severe damage during a storm.
  • Keep your blinds down. Make sure you close all curtains, blinds or shutters to prevent broken window glass and hailstones from entering your home and injuring you or your family.
  • Park your car in the garage or in a sheltered undercover area.
  • Ensure you are adequately covered against hail damage in your personal and commercial insurance policy so that you have cover when you need it.

"Now is not the time to compromise on your insurance cover. It is very important to know exactly what you are covered for and for what amount. Consumers should make sure their policies are up to date and take note of the insurer's available emergency services. Choose an insurer that assists you in protecting your assets in severe weather situations by sending out weather alerts," concludes Wild.

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