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Make sure you’re covered for a power surge

Aug 20, 2020

Do you know whether you’re covered if a power surge damages expensive electrical appliances?

Make sure you're covered for a power surgeIdentified by Google as South Africa’s most searched term in the past decade, loadshedding continues to cause a huge amount of frustration and inconvenience for many South Africans, along with increased short-term insurance risk.

Thanks to various apps, people can now see loadshedding schedules in advance and can ensure that they are adequately prepared, but there are still times when loadshedding occurs in the early hours of the morning or overnight, leaving many household items at risk of being damaged by a power surge.

When electricity comes back after a few hours of loadshedding, it can cause a power surge which can damage electrical appliances, causing plastic and metal parts to melt and circuits to burn.

Elizabeth Mountjoy, Private Wealth Manager at FNB Insurance Brokers warns, “With loadshedding occurring more regularly, it is vital that you ensure you have cover available should you require it. You should contact your short-term insurer or broker and confirm whether the power surge benefit has been added to your policy. If this benefit is not included and your home appliances are damaged due to a power surge, you will not be able to submit a claim for the damaged appliances.”

Protect your appliances

Apart from ensuring that you have the right kind of insurance cover for power surges, another comprehensive way to protect your appliances is to have surge plugs or an arrestor installed to protect all the electrical circuits in your house.

The surge arrestor is installed at the point where the power comes into your house, and protects you against surges in power, usually up to around 6 000 volts. You can get a surge arrestor for up to as much as 20,000 volts.

“One of the most cost-effective methods to completely prevent a power surge is to unplug certain appliances in the event of loadshedding or during thunderstorms. Once the electricity has returned, you should wait a further 10 minutes before plugging in all the appliances,” adds Mountjoy.

Check your policy – power surge

Contact your insurer or broker to get advice on what sections of cover to add to your policy so that you are protected in the event of damage due to a power surge. Most insurers offer power surge cover up to a certain limit under the household section which may not be adequate if you have expensive electronic items. Also check what cover you have for the loss of freezer/fridge contents.

Check your policy – your alarm

Under Stage 6 loadshedding, you could have no electricity for 4½ hours, with only a two-hour reprieve until the next outage. If you have an alarm warranty on your policy, your alarm still needs to be activated during loadshedding while your property is unoccupied, as it would be under normal circumstances.

Most alarm backup batteries can last for at least six hours. Double check whether your backup battery for the alarm is checked regularly so that it is ready to kick in during these times. If not, it is your responsibility to regularly test the batteries to ensure maximum protection is provided by your system.

How to minimise damage/loss

  • In the case of automated garages and gates, ensure that you can access your property safely and keep override keys in a safe yet accessible place.
  • Instead of candles or paraffin lamps invest in solar or battery-powered lights.
  • Consider installing surge protectors at your main board but ensure that this is done by a reputable electrician. Surge protector adaptors should also be installed to minimise damage to electronics.

“To keep yourself, your home and your household contents safe, continuously monitor the loadshedding schedule in your area to better prepare for the next power outage. Once you are aware of the loadshedding schedule, you will then be able to make the necessary arrangements to protect your household appliances and enjoy peace of mind knowing that you are well protected,” concludes Mountjoy.

This article first appeared in City Press.

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Maya Fisher-French author of Money Questions Answered

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