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Householders' Insurance
Tuesday, August 4, 2015 - 02:16

Eskom’s load shedding is astronomically inconvenient, but there’s a serious cost involved too when customer rejects forget to protect their appliances against sudden reboot. Indeed, when power is restored an immediate one or two minute break in supply can occur as the grid readjusts. The damage this double surge can cause to equipment such as computers, monitors and televisions can be catastrophic.

Yet a client survey by Santam suggests that many households are not taking sufficient steps to minimise damage and loss during load shedding. Though, to be fair, this could happen while the home is vacated by the owners out working hard to pay for their electricity bills.
As Santam says most respondents (63%) do not switch off their appliances before load shedding, which would otherwise prevent power surge damage to them when the power comes on again. Indeed, almost a third of respondents said their appliances had been damaged as a result of load shedding.
Another finding suggests that only 21% make use of generators, but of these, a full 30% are not sure that their generators are SABS certified and properly connected.
Many people also make use of alternative light sources that are potentially a fire risk: 65% of the survey respondents used candles; 24% used gas lamps; and, 18% made use of paraffin lamps.
Comments Marius Neethling, Personal Lines Underwriting Manager at Santam, “Load shedding results in increased risk of damage to sensitive electronic items as well as fires. Opportunistic crime as a result of security systems not operating properly has also increased.”
He urges households to take extra precautions to manage their risk and protect against losses resulting from load shedding.”
The survey revealed that whereas most people have a battery backup for their alarm system, few carry out tests to see they are in working order. And there are even homeowners whose alarm systems do not even have a battery on standby. Either way, it leaves them vulnerable when the mains power goes off.
Neethling suggests the following to minimise damage and loss during load shedding:
• Arriving or leaving home: Ensure that you are especially alert when arriving or leaving your home after dark, as the street lights and your outside lighting may not be functioning.
• Automated gates and garage doors: Ensure that you have alternative ways to enter and exit your home if your electric security gates and garage door are not functioning due to load shedding. Keep the keys to the gate motors in an accessible place.
• Alternative light sources: Invest in solar, camping, and battery operated or LED lights, which are much safer than candles or paraffin lamps.
• Generators: make sure your generator is professionally installed, and never store more than 20 litres of fuel in your house. Test your generator frequently, and remember to have a fire extinguisher of at least 4.5kg on site.
• Surge protection: you can buy a surge protector for your electric mains board, as well as surge protector plug adaptors, at most leading hardware stores. Surge protectors should be installed by a certified electrician.
• Electric fencing: your electric fence should have a back-up battery, which needs to be tested regularly and replaced if needed.
• Contact your security company: if you feel unsafe at any time during a power failure, contact your security company by contacting the control room emergency number.
“Santam remains ready to assist policyholders with any claims resulting from power cuts. For example, if additional cover is taken out, we will protect household contents against power surges,” says Neethling.
Santam will also:
• Protect against losses caused by theft if burglar alarms do not operate because of a power cut, or if the alarm response company is unable to attend to alarm activation.
• Protect machinery from power surges if additional optional cover is taken out. This will protect against accidental damage to machinery and equipment used for domestic purposes, such as swimming pools, Jacuzzis, boreholes, sprinkler irrigation systems and electric gates.
• Cover the contents of fridges and freezers if there is accidental spoilage due to a change in temperature if the power cut exceeds a period of 24 hours.

Not surprisingly, the survey revealed that the most inconvenient time for load shedding is between 6pm and 8pm, as this is the time when people “arrive home, cook supper, bath their children and help with homework.”
So what are we getting up to during load shedding? The respondents claimed they either spent time with their families, read or listened to the radio, or ‘just waited for the lights to go on again’.
Load shedding has become part of our daily lives. Most of the respondents said it made them feel ‘frustrated, angry, irritated and annoyed’, but the unfortunate reality is that it is likely to continue for a long time coming. It’s the skills shortage, you see; a lack of expertise and planning. The Department of Home Affairs is also doing its utmost to ensure this will get even worse.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:28.8 1st August, 2015
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