Illustration: Colin Daniel

Sping is the perfect opportunity to tidy up your home and vehicle insurance policies, to ensure that your cover can stand the test of weather-related catastrophes. 

“If you’re in a summer rainfall area, spring brings with it the potential for heavy thunderstorms and hail damage, while runaway fires are a serious risk in dry regions, especially the drought-stricken Western Cape. Spring provides the perfect opportunity to get your home and vehicle risk-ready,” says Mandy Barrett, the marketing and sales manager of personal product solutions at Aon South Africa.

Barrett has the following advice for making sure your cover is in top shape: 

• Make sure your home, household contents and vehicles are insured for their replacement value, not their resale value.

• Business cover under a personal insurance policy may cater for a home office only, not a business that represents a high risk. Business-related public liability cover is not covered under a personal policy. Discuss appropriate business insurance options with your broker.

• Valuation certificates for jewellery must be updated at least every two years to take account of inflation and fluctuations in the exchange rate. Insurers require valuation certificates dated before an item is lost or damaged to prove value and ownership.

• Have you bought new clothes, electronic items, appliances, furniture or jewellery, or have you given away such items? Make sure your inventory is accurate and up to date.  

• Solar geysers or photovoltaic panels can be damaged in a hail storm. Check whether these items are included under your homeowner’s insurance cover. It may be necessary to increase the sum insured to account for the value these items add to your property. 

• Ensure your appliances are covered in the event of a power surge and that your major appliances and computer equipment are connected to power-surge protector plugs. Instal lightning rods if you live in an area that is prone to lightning strikes. 

• Minimise the risk of fire by clearing out clutter and removing flammable materials. Check whether your insurance policy requires you to instal fire extinguishers or smoke detectors. 

• Do not assume your policy covers every type of damage to your vehicle; dents, damage to tyres and hail damage may be excluded. 

• Check your tyre tread, and if necessary, replace worn tyres. A claim could be repudiated if the tread is deemed insufficient to have stopped the vehicle in time. The legally required minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. 

• Is your vehicle insured for its retail value? Ideally, you want your insurance to enable you to replace like for like.

• Make sure your policy covers any individual who may drive your vehicle with your permission. Open driver policies cover any person with a valid South African driver’s licence who drives your vehicle with your permission.

• Does your policy include a hired car while your vehicle is being repaired? What will happen if the car-hire period runs out before your car is fixed? 

• Items that “travel” with you when you leave your home, such as jewellery, laptops, cellphones and bicycles, must be specified under the all-risks section of your policy for their replacement value. 

“Wear and tear and other maintenance-related losses are one of the key reasons for a claim being rejected or the settlement being less than expected. Remember that insurance is there to cover sudden unforeseen circumstances that result in loss and/or damage to the property or vehicle, and does not cover damage as a result of negligence or wear and tear,” Barrett says.

“The advice and guidance of a professional broker are invaluable in doing a thorough needs analysis to make sure your policy provisions meet all your needs as they evolve.” 

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