Fire: Are you adequately insured?

(Article by Rikus Visser, Chief Executive Officer, PSG Insure)

The recent wildfires in Cape Town were a vivid reminder of the importance of having adequate cover against property damage caused by fire.

A heart-breaking story that emerged from the fires was of a man who had spent all his spare time over the past four years building his dream home on the slopes of the larger Table Mountain area. As he hadn’t quite finished it, he hadn’t insured it. Then the fire swept in and destroyed his house, along with his finances. 

The Cape’s fire season will soon subside, with the onset of its typically wet winters. However, the winter fire season for Gauteng and other northern areas will just be starting. Veld fires that go awry are a common threat, together with household fires caused by faulty heaters and kitchen appliances.

Fire risk – there’s more to it than wildfires

Wildfires are not the only causes of fire and related damage. Faulty electrical appliances or wiring can easily spark a fire, as can lightning and even load shedding. It’s very easy to forget to turn off an appliance when the power is cut. For example, if you’re using a hair dryer when the power goes off, it’s easy to leave the room and forget you left it on. Then, when the power comes back on, your hair dryer will too. If you’ve left it lying on your bedroom carpet pointed at your bed, the result could be a fire that has lots of nearby fuel in the form of bed linen, carpets, curtains and cushions.

There may be more damage than you think

It is important to be aware of – and properly insured for – all fire related risks. Not only will there be damage from the flames, but also from smoke, heat and from the water and chemicals used to put out the fire. This means having both homeowners insurance to protect the structure of your home, and property and contents insurance to protect your belongings.

A few things to keep in mind on home insurance:

·         If a home has to be rebuilt, are you covered for demolition costs? Not every policy automatically pays this cost, which can be much more expensive than you might imagine.

·         If the damage is so extensive that you are forced to move out for a period, are you covered for the cost of alternative accommodation?

·         If you own a holiday home, are you sure that it is also adequately insured? What about rental income if it becomes uninhabitable because of a fire? You can insure against loss of income, as well.

·         What about damage to your property caused by emergency vehicles?

There are many aspects to consider, and now might be a good time to check your policies carefully. Your insurance adviser can help you to make sure that you are fully covered, to protect your home and belongings as best you can.

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