As a homeowner, there are many winter-related challenges to be aware of that can damage one’s property as a result of floods, storms, and even damages caused by load shedding. This month, we discuss common examples of building and home contents insurance claims that can be rejected due to negligence on the homeowner’s part.

With winter fast approaching, extreme weather conditions often follow such as floods and gale-force winds commonly experienced in South Africa. As a result, many property owners witness collapsed roofs or flooding in and around their homes, while the high risk of load shedding expected in the coming months only adds to the many winter-related challenges homeowners could be faced with.

In their policies, insurers clearly indicate that homeowners are responsible for maintaining their properties and its structures. Failing to do so, could result in claim rejections on the premise that the homeowner did not do everything in their power to protect their assets. There are, however, certain maintenance measures that homeowners can implement to avoid claim repudiation.

Tips for winter-proofing your home:

Clean the gutters: Ensure that summer debris that have accumulated is removed from gutter pipes connected to the roof before winter. Build-up in gutters can result in flooding from heavy rains, causing water damage to your property and surrounds. Related insurance claims can be rejected by your insurer if you failed to implement the necessary precautions.

Trim trees and branches: The branches of trees that are in close proximity to your home, windows or boundary walls/fences, could cause severe damage if they break off and fall due to extreme winds. It is best to continuously trim trees to avoid damage and a repudiated claim from your insurer.

Maintain structures: If your boundary walls or fences have not been looked after properly and are damaged by tree roots or old trees, your insurer is unlikely to approve your submitted claim for the damaged caused.

Security measures: With regular load shedding to be implemented during the winter months, homeowners should be aware of possible security issues that could arise during power outages. Alarm system and automatic gate batteries can run out, while the alarm system’s activation light on the outside of a property can be easily monitored by criminals. If burglaries occur during this time and the assessor finds that you failed to do everything in your power to protect your assets, it could lead to repudiated home contents’ insurance claims. Be sure to:

  • Regularly check your alarm battery
  • Install a back-up battery system

Invest in power surge plugs: If household appliances are damaged as a result of power outages, insurance claims could be rejected if you failed to prevent load shedding related damage. Minimise the use of multiplugs and adaptors that power multiple appliances from one socket, or invest in power surge plugs to minimise the risk of damaged appliances.

As a homeowner, it is worth it to implement precautions to protect your home and its contents ahead of the winter months, to avoid major financial expenses after damage to your assets has occurred. Always be sure to carefully examine your insurer’s fine print to avoid dissatisfaction at the claim stage. Contact WMD Financial Services if you are unsure about the terms and conditions of your building or home contents insurance policy.