Business / Personal Finance

Ina Opperman
Business Journalist
3 minute read
4 Nov 2020
4:12 pm

Storm season is here: surge in insurance claims after weekend rains

Ina Opperman

Now is a good time for consumers to check their policies and see what they are covered for, says Shakeel Ebrahim, head of operations at Standard Bank Insurance.

City Parks cuts down and removes a giant tree that was uprooted in a storm on 31 October 2020, in Roodepoort. The tree completely blocked the road as well as damaging two houses and bringing down the power lines. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Home insurers all saw an increase in claims for damage caused by the storms over the northern parts of the country last weekend and warn that homeowners must take precautions now that the summer storm season has arrived.

“As a result of the heavy downpour and stormy weather over the past weekend, Absa Insurance has seen an increase in the claims against homeowner’s insurance policies, with close to 500 new claims registered,” says Dushen Naidoo, managing executive of insurance at Absa Retail and Business Bank.

Tyrone Lowther, head of Budget Insurance, said they also received a number of vehicle claims for damage caused by hail, in addition to damage caused to property, with the majority from Gauteng and the North West.

“We have received a number of insurance claims following the recent storms. The majority of the claims are a result of heavy winds that caused damage to homes and roofs.  Fallen trees also resulted in damage to property,” says Seugnette van Wyngaard, head of 1st for Women Insurance.

There has definitely been an increase in volumes of claims since the weekend storms, says Shakeel Ebrahim, head of operations at Standard Bank Insurance.

He says now is a good time for consumers to check their policies and see what they are covered for, as maintenance is critical to avoid claims being refused. Drainage should be checked to avoid blockages.

Bianca de Beer from Dialdirect Insurance says South Africa is renowned for its mighty storms which are often a beautiful display of nature’s power, but also bring the risk of quickly escalating into a full-blown disaster. “The reality is that many storm-related losses could be prevented through better awareness, good planning and smart, prompt reaction.”

Storm advice for homeowners

Policyholders must always ensure that their policies are in force and that premiums are paid on time, says Naidoo.

“It is imperative that customers understand what is covered. Different seasons bring different risks and losses, such as lightning, storms and hail, which can also result in flooding, during spring and summer.”

He also stresses the importance of routine maintenance on properties, as this is a policy requirement, such as clearing leaves from gutters to prevent blockages to allow water to flow and avoid damage.

Dialdirect is also calling on consumers to remain vigilant and adopt a more proactive approach to avoid damage to property, injury and loss of life. Dialdirect offers these practical tips to stay safe in adverse weather conditions:

  • Check structures around your house for weak spots, clear debris from gutters, fasten items that could become deadly projectiles and cut away dead trees and branches.
  • Heavy rains are often associated with lightning. Install surge protection plugs and/or unplug appliances before the storm arrives.
  • If you are in an area prone to heavy hail, make sure that the structures around your home can handle the extra weight and that you are equipped to clear any build-up of hail. Reinforce structures where necessary.

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