From traffic accidents to power surges, rolling blackouts caused by Eskom’s potential load shedding pose a number of risks at home and at work. File picture: Karen Sandison/ANA Pictures

From traffic accidents to power surges, rolling blackouts caused by Eskom’s potential load shedding pose a number of risks on the road, at home and at work for South Africans.

According to Vera Nagtegaal, Executive Head of Hippo.co.za, power cuts do not just cause inconvenience in terms of not having electricity when you need it.

“They can also cause irreparable damage to your appliances and can cause electrical fires through power surges, if appliances have been accidently left on during load shedding. 

Therefore, it’s a good idea to invest in power surge plugs for protection as well as to chat to your insurance provider on how best to ensure that you are properly covered in the event of a fire.”

Nagtegaal says that insurance cover for fire damage will depend on which type of cover you have, be it buildings insurance, household insurance or business insurance. “You cannot, for example, claim for fire damage to your furniture if you only have buildings insurance.”

There is always the risk of criminals pouncing when the lights go out, so it’s wise to take the necessary precautions to ensure your alarm system is working properly in the event of a power cut, she adds.

Nagtegaal says people should ensure that their alarm system has a working back-up battery.

“If a claim is submitted following a burglary, proof will be required that the system was functioning properly at the time of the incident. If not, and the malfunction is found to be due to negligence, the claim could be rejected.”

Many private security providers do have contingency plans in place to ensure that their services are minimally impacted during power cuts. They can also advise consumers on back-up measures to ensure that homes remain secured when the power is out; and on how to protect equipment against surges when electricity supply returns.

There is also a higher risk of accidents at intersections and dark roads during load shedding.

“The financial implications of a car accident for you and for others involved can be enormous. Car insurance will protect you from financial loss and allow you to fulfil your obligations to the other party, should you be responsible for causing the accident,” Nagtegaal said. But, she adds that regardless of what insurance cover you have in place it is essential that South Africans drive with added caution during any blackout.

“As South Africa braces itself for load shedding to kick in, it is important that people take all the necessary steps to ensure that they are fully protected against any risk or financial loss,” Nagtegaal concluded.

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