Global warming has its detractors, but there can be no denying that the global climate is changing nonetheless, evolving, and posing a greater threat each and every day.
The evidence is all around us – extreme weather conditions are on the rise. Last year, South Africa suffered an absolute battering at the hands of Mother Nature – one of the worst years on record. Severe storms raged across the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Fires enveloped Knysna. A tornado even popped up just outside of Johannesburg. And then, of course, the catastrophic drought that continued to plague Cape Town, all the way into 2018.
Insurance giant, Santam, proved itself up to the task in the face of chaos. The insurer incurred gross claims of almost R2 billion as a result of fire, storms and flooding in 2017.
The upswing of disastrous climate events over the last couple of years is by no means confined to South Africa. 2017 was the worst on record for weather-related insurance losses globally – estimated at a total of around US $344 billion.
Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, fires, earthquakes. What happens in one part of the world has an inevitable impact on all others, and believe it or not – it also affects the price of insurance here in SA.
So! It's safe to assume that the next disaster is just around the bend – slowly brewing out there in the middle of the ocean – and we need to protect ourselves and our property from whatever is coming. We spoke to our very own Gurus to find out what the best possible insurance products are for some of the more common catastrophes, and we got their recommendations.
Hail – the word a sends a shiver down the spine of every car owner. Add in a little bit of rush hour traffic with everybody running for shelter, and you've got some pandemonium on your hands.
You may be surprised to learn that while hail certainly does extensive damage to vehicles each and every year, the destruction of businesses, homes and contents is far more common.
A ferocious storm can bring down your roof or your walls and – if you're a farmer – absolutely flatten your crops. All of which costs a whole lot of money to replace.
Of course, South Africa is no stranger to wrathful weather. The early to mid-summer months are known to be particularly unstable, with harsh hail storms prevalent throughout the Gauteng Highveld, Mpumalanga, North West and the Northern Cape.
And of course, where there's thunder there is also lightning – threatening to set your home on fire and destroy all of your electrical appliances.
Our Gurus Recommend: Santam.
Santam's Comprehensive Insurance products cover your vehicle and home in the event of a damaging hail storm, lightning or water damage.
There is no additional excess for hail-related claims and best of all; Santam clients have access to six different SOS services in the event of an emergency.
With over a century of experience in the agricultural risk industry, Santam also offers Crop Insurance to protect farmers from the effects of heavy rain, hail and drought.
Torrential rain doesn't just cause storm damage to property, but also severe losses due to flooding. Over the years the weather patterns have changed, and we now see massive amounts of rain arriving for a shorter amount of time. This has led to a sharp spike in flash flooding all over the country.
Storms and flash flooding create absolute chaos. Gale force winds. Cars being washed down river. Structures collapsing. Power outages. Uprooted trees in the middle of the road. It impacts tens of thousands of South Africans each and every year.
During the summer months, flooding can happen anywhere and anytime – it doesn't even have to be rainy season. Those living in low-lying areas, beside a river, in coastal towns or informal settlements are at higher risk of experiencing severe flooding, particularly during the months of December, January and February.
Our Gurus Recommend: MiWay.
MiWay offers MiHelp to their clients – a 24/7 emergency assistance line. There is also a car tracking device available that can detect any serious vehicle impact and will alert emergency assistance on your behalf.
As if the possibility of your home being washed away isn't enough, December to April is also fire season. February in particular is considered high risk, commonly being the windiest month of the year in South Africa.
The sad reality is that almost every single catastrophic fire is caused by human negligence, electrical faults or inattention. This includes cigarettes or matches thrown out of the window or candles, heating appliances and braai fires left unmonitored.
Adding to that, the odd bit of lightning and other environmental factors also play a part, while harsh winds and arid conditions will help the fire spread beyond control. Before you know it, you're in serious trouble.
Of course, it's not only your home that's at risk, but your business too – and the results are even more devastating. Veld fires and mountain blazes can run rampant within seconds, swallowing everything in its path. We frequently see fires in industrial parks and restaurants.
Our Gurus Recommend: King Price.
King Price offers a very specific type of fire insurance, designed to go hand in hand with your business cover.
This 'fire' cover insures you from loss or damage to your business property from fire, lightning, subterranean fire, explosions and even earthquakes. You also have the option of 'amping' your cover up to include leaks caused by fire sprinklers, riots, strikes and even landslips.This product covers a lot – and here's a full list – but there are also a couple of limitations to be aware of.