Lockdown: Those emergencies that can wreak havoc and what to do
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It’s lockdown and suddenly your front gate is completely stuck and won’t unlock. No matter how much you manoeuvre the key or how much oil you spray on to the lock mechanism, it just won’t budge! If it’s your only way in or out, this would qualify as an emergency.
This is a situation you hope won’t happen of course, but it’s good to know insurance can help, even while lockdown looms on. If you need to call in an emergency service from a locksmith or plumber (due to a burst geyser – another emergency) keep these key considerations in mind.
Keep it clean
You should not have anyone in your home unless it is an emergency and you should maintain social-distancing practices when anyone enters your home. This includes asking workmen to sanitise their hands before working at your property. Wipe down all surfaces of the repair area as best you can before workmen arrive, as well as afterwards. Everyone should keep their distance and have masks and gloves on as a precaution, where possible. You should also keep record of the incident in case there are any enquiries in to why the emergency visit took place.
It will depend on the exact situation for a claim to qualify as an emergency, but if any issue arises you should check in with your adviser and insurer first to see if they can help. If it does qualify as a claim, you will need your insurer to approve any repairs too. If, however, the gate in the example is one of two or more entrances to your home, it may not qualify as an emergency and you will need to seek private assistance, and your access issues may only be resolvable post-lockdown.
In this case, it may be best not to put your DIY skills to the test, as any changes in security could impact your insurance. You will generally be covered because your gate is locked, but if that isn’t the case and you find a way to force it open, you could be putting yourself at risk of a burglary. Don’t assume that criminals won’t still take a chance (and they may even be able to get away with it), so you don’t want your gate to be a weak spot, as it could ultimately mean you’re not covered.
Keep in mind that some parts may also be on order or delayed due to lockdown. Hopefully emergencies won’t arise, but even if something less urgent, but important comes up, you should log it during lockdown. Having a record of the claim will count in your favour, especially if there is an extension on lockdown or repairs take longer to process once the lockdown lifts.
Safer than sorry
You should be able to put a claim in over the phone or via email, but you might not have the same claims experience as you would in normal circumstances. Some product providers will do digital assessments and categorise claims according to their severity. Another example might be drivable or non-drivable motor vehicle incidents. Some may think to reduce car cover over lockdown but remember that any urgent trips to the shop for essentials could still result in a motor claim, even with the roads being less congested.
Claims like these might require photographic evidence in order to process digital assessments. All drivable vehicle repairs will generally be regarded as delayed repairs until the lockdown ends, but this should be confirmed with the specific product provider.
Be practical and proactive
Not all claims can be dealt with remotely or resolved entirely over lockdown, so you may need to be a little more realistic. Take comfort in the fact that you can log an issue during this time, bringing you closer to the front of the queue once life resumes to what we once knew as normal.
Remember to make any necessary adjustments to your insurance too. It’s worthwhile touching base with your adviser. Lockdown doesn’t mean you are locked out of getting your insurance on track.
Bertus Visser is the chief executive of Distribution at PSG Insure.