Key tips to keep your home and office adequately insured

| Article by Bertus Visser, Chief Executive of Distribution, PSG Insure
Last month’s storms around the Western Cape, as well as the devastating fires in and around Knysna, were a painful reminder of the importance of having adequate insurance cover. Heartbreaking stories emerged of entire properties being washed away or burnt down, not to mention countless reports of damage.
While the Cape typically has wet winters, in Gauteng and other northern areas, winter is fire season. Being prepared is important no matter where you live. Whether you might be facing heavy rains that could damage your roof and gutters, or fires – from wildfires to those caused at the office or at home by faulty heaters and kitchen appliances – these are real risks to prepare against. It is also important to maintain your property – be it your business premises or home – to make sure you are fully covered. 
Make home maintenance a priority

Faulty electrical appliances or wiring can easily spark a fire – as can forgetting to turn off an appliance. Many standard office supplies (such as paper and documents) or everyday items at home (such as curtains and linen) can fuel a fire, so it is best to be responsible. Fix any faulty appliances to avoid this risk and make sure that heating appliances are far enough away from flammable items.
Flooding can also cause a lot of damage, so regular maintenance – from servicing your roof and gutters, to making sure you can handle the volume of rain runoff – is very important. Your neighbours may also be able to claim against you if they suffer damage from an issue on your property, so sufficient liability cover is essential too.
There may be more to recover from than you think

When you prepare against a fire or flood, you have to consider more than the obvious risks. In the case of fire, smoke and heat – or even the pressure of the water used to put out the fire, and the chemicals it contains – can have dire consequences to both your property’s structure and contents. In the case of a flood, you must consider potential flood damage to structures that remain in place in addition to anything that may be washed away.
If your business or home should need to be rebuilt – even if just in part – you would need sufficient cover. Not every policy automatically pays this cost, which may include the demolition of your property and rubble removal in addition to new building costs. Rebuilding may also take a very long time to complete. If the damage is so extensive that you are forced to move out for a period, you will need to be covered for the cost of alternative accommodation as well. Without sufficient cover, the combined costs can be quite a financial setback.
Preventative measures to take

• If there are big trees on your property, ask a professional to assess if any felling is needed. An unstable tree can cause extensive damage in a storm, and is easy kindling for a fire.

• Everything in your office or home may need to be replaced. It is your responsibility to make sure you have factored in the true replacement value of your goods. It may even be worthwhile to have proof of ownership for valuable items stored in the cloud, in case receipts or photos get destroyed.

•You must have a fire extinguisher on a commercial property for it to be insured against fire. (This is to comply with health and safety regulations.) Of course, it also helps to reduce your risk if a fire breaks out.

• Make sure that you regularly check and maintain your gutters, drains and roof.

• The same considerations apply to holiday homes and rental properties.
There are many aspects to consider, so take the time to check your policies carefully – even if it means that your premium goes up. Rather be safe than sorry. Chat to your adviser to help you make sure that you are fully covered, protecting your business, home and belongings as best you can.

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