Gauteng residents flood insurers with claims after hailstorm
Various parts of Gauteng experienced hail damage on Monday.
SA insurers are dealing with the influx of claims for damage from the recent hailstorm in parts of Gauteng. Image: iStock
Mother nature’s latest rude awakening left many with an administrative nightmare, as they pick up the pieces following the recent harsh climatic display.
Properties and motor vehicles in some parts of Gauteng were left severely damaged by a hailstorm on Monday, leaving insurers with an influx of claims from policyholders.
The Citizen got in touch with some insurance providers to find out if they’re prepared to handle the piles of paperwork.
Ready to handle claims
Santam Insurance executive head of claims, Fanus Coetzee said it was too early to quantify the extent of the damage or how much claims could possibly amount to.
The insurance provider however confirmed that incidents of hail damage had been reported by policyholders in Johannesburg CBD, Sandton, Midrand and parts of Soweto.
Coetzee said the company had since activated their Catastrophe Claims Management protocols to handle the high number of claims.
“Our first step on the hail damaged vehicles, for example is to conduct a triage on all the incoming hail damage claims to ensure that we prioritise repairs on vehicles rendered non-drivable and non-roadworthy due to damaged windscreens and lamps,” he told The Citizen.
Santam also said they’d deployed rapid response teams to affected areas to deal with the aftermath of the hailstorm.
Meanwhile, Chief Client Relations Officer at Outsurance, Natasha Kawulesar confirmed that claims for hail damage were already being processed.
Kawulesar told The Citizen she didn’t foresee any delays in validation of claims as a result of increased volumes.
“While the volume of calls and claims is high, we are well equipped to handle the influx of claims,” she said.
Equally unphased by the increased number of claims, Hollard’s head of strategic communications, Warwick Bloom assured that the insurer would be able to get through the pile.
“While we do anticipate an influx of claims, our processes are robust and we will deploy additional capacity should this become necessary,” he told The Citizen.
Bloom encouraged policyholders to report claims to their respective brokers timeously, so the damage can be assessed quickly.
“Hail is an insured peril, so the process should be relatively straightforward,” he said.
South Africa has experienced a series of severe natural catastrophes in recent months, with the South African Weather Services (Saws) warning of the persistence of extreme weather conditions ahead.
Saws multi-model rainfall forecast indicates above-normal rainfall for the north-eastern parts of the country during the summer season.
“Predictions still favour above-normal rainfall conditions over the north-eastern parts of the country, even with an El Niño in place,” Saws said.
Insurance companies have not been immune to the severe impact of climate change, having to update their policies to cope with the new normal.
“Our aim is to adapt underwriting practices and assist clients in enhancing their resilience to climate change impacts, for example, recommending interventions like flood barriers or equipment relocation for flood-prone properties,” Bloom explained.
He also said that Hollard had been trying to identify regions that are more vulnerable to incidents such as flood, drought and fire to better understand current and future implications on claims.
“Our goal is to ensure the sustainability of insurance into the future,” he said.
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Coetzee, Santam, also acknowledged the undeniable implications of climate change.
“The frequency and severity of extreme weather events is increasing, and we would advise policyholders in affected areas to take precautions where possible” he said.
Santam shared some useful tips for road users during severe weather conditions.
- Use a GPS or App-related maps to find viable routes to use when travelling in the affected areas.
- Drive slowly – slower driving minimises damages linked to storms and combats slippery roads.
- If affected, locate a safe, covered area immediately or pull over under an overpass, provided it is safe.
- Undercover parking at malls and petrol stations is a good temporary solution to protecting your car during a severe downpour.
- Stay inside the vehicle. Large hail stones pose a genuine personal injury threat.
- Keep fleece blankets in your boot so you can cover your car to minimise the impact of hail.
In the immediate aftermath, the insurer recommends taking careful note of the extend of the damage to your vehicle by looking for possible damage to glass items like side mirrors, taillights and head lights.
Taking pictures might also come in handy during claims.