Avoid winter insurance blues

With winter already in full swing, extreme weather conditions across most parts of the country can present a number of challenges for many homeowners.

To reduce the risk of financial loss consumers must ensure they know exactly what their insurance policy will cover in the event of typical winter insurance-related claims, such as damage to their home caused by natural elements or a burst geyser.

This is according to Nazeer Hoosen, executive director at PPS Short-Term Insurance, who says most homeowner’s insurance only pays for sudden and unexpected events – it does not pay for gradual deterioration or lack of maintenance.

“It’s imperative to perform regular maintenance to the property to avoid rejection of insurance claims,” he says.

“One of the most common types of claims received during winter is related to a burst geyser due to extreme changes in the water temperature compared with the freezing cold pipes. In the event of a burst geyser, it is not only the geyser that needs replacing but sometimes the room below the geyser (which is typically stored in the roof) can be severely water damaged and require repairs or replacement of household contents.”

In the event of a burst geyser, homeowners must follow the correct steps, as stipulated in their insurance policies to ensure the claim is fully paid out, he says.

“When in doubt, you should always contact your insurance provider or broker to inquire about the correct procedures when it comes to geyser-related claims to ensure a smooth process in a typically stressful situation.”

Fire related claims are also more common in winter as people make fires at home to keep warm, says Hoosen.

“Fire is one of the most destructive elements and can destroy a whole house within minutes. You also need to check on the insured value of your home – whether the building is insured for the correct replacement value allowing for current building costs, and including amounts for professional and demolition fees and escalations.”

He says that often homes are insured for their market value, which does not help if it costs more to rebuild the home following severe damage.

“If you carry out alterations, even small ones, this can also lead to a large increase in the building value, and You don’t want to be under-insured at the point of claim. It is safer to conduct regular evaluations of what it would cost to replace the home and ensure this is the value the home is insured for.

“Water damage caused by heavy rainfall during this period in areas such as the Western Cape can also result in insurance claims. One of the easiest ways to avoid insurance claim rejections due to water damage is to check for signs of leakage in all the walls, roofs and gutters of your house. You should also check that nothing can stop or hinder water from flowing in the right direction towards proper drainage away from the home, to ensure that no water flows into the house during heavy rains.

“By bearing the above in mind, you can better ensure that any claims related to home damage during the winter season are not rejected and make sure your home insurance policy covers you in the event of accidental damage, says Hoosen.

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