“Drought is considered an ‘act of God’ in insurance terms, which makes cover a contentious issue.”
Bertus Visser, Chief Executive of Distribution, PSG Insure
The crippling drought that has hit the Western Cape, extending to the Eastern and Northern Cape has yet to loosen its grip. While the threat of running out of water isn’t facing the entire country, South Africans have become more conscious of their water usage.
Various questions around how your insurance might be impacted by a drought have no doubt crossed your mind, even if you don’t live in the affected provinces. Below are a few frequently asked questions regarding water supply and what will happen if Day Zero arrives.
If a fire starts at my property and the water is off – will I be covered for damages?
As per the National Building Regulations, it is the responsibility of individuals and businesses to provide, service and maintain any firefighting equipment. These measures are also required for insurance cover, and if you don’t have a fire extinguisher in good working order, there is a good chance your claim will be repudiated.
Businesses should make sure some chosen employees know how to use fire extinguishers, and that everyone knows what to do if a fire breaks out. Additionally – whether at home or work – make sure any electrical issues are dealt with immediately. In a commercial or agricultural setting, have infra-red inspections done annually on electrical distribution equipment. Also make use of fire breaks and clean up any dead vegetation to prevent a fire from spreading.
Can my geyser be adversely affected if the water goes off – and will it be covered?
When water supply is suddenly restricted to a geyser, it can cause some damage. To comply with the terms of your insurance cover, all your geysers, plumbing and electrical fittings must be installed by an accredited professional. Damage from a water supply cut will unlikely be covered, but claims may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. It’s a good idea to switch off your geyser if you are going away for a day or longer, to prevent any unnecessary damages. The City of Cape Town, for example, has advised that residents adjust their water stop-cocks to reduce water pressure and minimise any potential damage should water supply be interrupted.
Can I insure my water-saving equipment?
Many homes and businesses now have water-saving devices and systems in place. These may include JoJo tanks and boreholes, fittings and fixtures in bathrooms or kitchens, and irrigation or piping for grey water to feed outside. All of these additions should be included in your contents or building insurance. While you won’t need to specify the items, their true replacement value must be factored into your overall contents or building sums, to ensure they are covered against any damages. It may also be a good time to check that your contents and building cover are still sufficient for your needs.
Surely, I can simply insure my business against any losses from the water crisis – why worry?
Drought is considered an ‘act of God’ in insurance terms, which makes cover a contentious issue. Business interruption cover and profit loss cover are unfortunately not valid in this case, making it even more important to prevent Day Zero.
A full risk assessment of your home and office will go a long way to mitigating risks early, meaning you are more prepared, should Day Zero arrive. Chat to your adviser if you have any concerns or questions about your cover.