Are you covered for winter?

| Article by Bertus Visser, Chief Executive of Distribution, PSG Insure
Winter seems to have arrived throughout most of South Africa – a time of roaring fireplaces and gas heaters. In some parts of the country, a wet winter can be expected, and in others freezing cold and dry conditions can affect water pipes.
Before winter is here in full force, you would be wise to check your property is adequately prepared and insured for the cold months.
Don’t stoke the fire

A clean chimney not only makes your cosy fireplace more pleasant to sit around, but also prevents a fire hazard. If your chimney is blocked, a fire can actually start on the inside, which can cause a lot of damage to your roof and adjacent structure. Get your chimney checked and cleaned to avoid burning your plans for a comfortable winter. 
Cooking with gas

A hot trend to save on electricity is to use gas heaters, stoves and other gas-operated appliances. To stay safe, you need to of course make sure gas appliances are switched off when not in use, and that they are stored according to legal requirements.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act states that homeowners using gas for hot water systems, stoves and ovens require a Certificate of Conformity, which is paramount when it comes to insurance claims.
The installation of gas bottles may be required to be done outside, and the bottles may need to be caged, or locked at least:

- one metre sideways from doors and windows, and one metre from your property’s boundary wall
- one-and-a-half metres from any lightbulb, two metres from any drains, and five metres sideways from a switchable electric point or plug switch

Check with your insurer should you have queries about covering any of your gas installations or appliances. Consider if your property, rental property or holiday home were to be damaged by a gas explosion or a fire, the costs of repairs from having to demolish what is left, and rebuilding can be astronomical.  Now also consider replacing everything inside, and finding somewhere to stay until all is sorted. Without adequate insurance in such a situation, your finances will take a lot of heat.
When it rains, it can pour

Many parts of the country are desperate for rain, and once it comes, leaks and other defects on your roof or gutters may become visible. Now would be a good time to have these serviced as some gutters or roof tiles may need to be repaired or replaced. Failing to keep up this maintenance can result in an insurance claim being rejected, as well as dampening your fun winter plans. 
Cracking down on cold weather

Where winter rains are not common, freezing water pipes unfortunately are in cold conditions. As water expands when it is frozen, pipes can burst, which can lead to flooding.  Insurance will protect you should your pipes burst, but without sufficient cover, the costs of flooding damage from replacing flooring to electric appliances or electrical points -depending on how far the water travels - could drown you financially.
Just as a car service keeps your vehicle running smoothly, home maintenance goes a long way too. It would be best to check you are covered comprehensively and complying with your policy to safeguard you against wintery accidents.

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