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Does Your Home Insurance Include Surge Protection?

Author: Compare Guru
Date: 2017-02-04
Living in a climate of power outages and thunderstorms makes it imperative for you to be covered against power surges.

With power outages and thunderstorms a reality in South Africa, the question begs to be asked - are you protected against a potential power surge? Picture this, you have succumbed to the load shedding schedule and eating dinner by candlelight has actually become quite soothing. When, suddenly, your power clicks on and fries your fridge and television set. Quite the anti-climax. Most think that this is part of your home insurance policy.

But, Paul Goodall, manager of Reinsurance at Lion of Africa Insurance advises that most standard wording of short term insurance policies will exclude power surges (unless otherwise stated). The policy excludes any loss or damage which results from the deliberate withholding of power.

Over the past few years, South Africa has suffered the effects of extreme weather on a more regular basis. Damage from severe storms, floods, and lightning strikes have become regular features on the insurance claims role. There are some important pointers to take heed of to make sure you won’t be left counting the cost when the next big storm strikes, explains Mandy Barrett of insurance brokers, Aon South Africa.

What Is a Power Surge?

A power surge is an oversupply of voltage from the power company (or lightning). They can last up to 50 microseconds. Although only a short duration, power surges can overload and damage electrical equipment. Storms and lightning strikes can leave significant damages in their wake. So, it’s important to take steps to ensure your household maintenance and lightning protection will see you through these forces of nature.

How To Protect Your House Against a Power Surge

  • Always switch off and unplug electrical appliances during a storm.
  • Install lightning surge protectors at all plug points. Especially where you have expensive and important equipment plugged in. This not only protects the equipment, but also any person who may be using the equipment at the time of a lightning strike or power surge.
  • Install a heavy-duty surge suppressor at your main electricity distribution board. This type of surge suppressor is designed to deal with large voltages as they enter your building and minimises the impact on your equipment. Make sure that only a licensed electrician installs this and schedule an annual inspection for extra safety. Modems and computers are some of the first items that are normally damaged in a surge.
  • Where required, install a lightning conductor in the form of a free-standing mast for thatch roofs. These must be SABS approved and installed by a qualified person. The combustible properties of thatch in areas with high lightning density pose serious fire hazards.
  • Make sure all your gutters are clean and free of debris or blockages so they can allow for maximum drainage during a heavy downpour.
  • Inspect your roof each year for leaks and damage to prevent water damage to ceilings.
  • Inspect any surrounding trees and remove any dead branches, which could cause damage if they fell on your property, vehicle, or even worse, a person.
  • The addition of lightning surge protectors to your intercom system, alarm system, and gate motor should not be overlooked. These items are susceptible to lightning damage.
  • Also, check your insurance policy to confirm what the outcome would be if your burglar alarm was damaged, without your knowledge, and you were burgled. 

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