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Severe Weather Warning For Gauteng And Kwazulu-Natal: Hail Is On Its Way

24 November 2021 Santam

Time to batten down the hatches if you’re based in KwaZulu-Natal. The South African Weather Service has issued a yellow level 2 alert for severe thunderstorms heading to this region, with disruptive rains, damaging winds and significant amounts of hail forecast. The summer season often brings severe hailstone ‘storms’ that cause costly damage to cars and infrastructure.

The weather alert is specifically aimed at the southern parts of KwaZulu-Natal (approximately 80%), as well as the eastern parts of the Free State and the eastern half of the Eastern Cape.

Santam’s personal lines underwriting manager Marius Neethling says, “Varying from marble-sized to fully-fledged golf balls, hailstones can measure up to 7 cm in diameter, so it is easy to see why they do so much irreparable damage to vehicles and property. Windscreens are shattered, vehicles dented, roofs damaged, and house windows broken.”

The cost to repair and replace vehicles varies according to the severity of the storm and damage done to the paintwork, etc. Not only are the costs crippling, but the repair process can take months, depending on the availability of car parts and the capacity of approved motor body repairers.

So, how can South Africans in these regions prepare for the storm? Neethling offers some tips to help Northerners activate disaster preparedness:

If you are on the road or your vehicle is parked:
• Drive slowly – slower driving minimises the damage of hail and combats slippery roads.
• Locate a safe, covered area immediately or pull over under an overpass, provided it is safe to do so.
• Undercover parking at malls and petrol stations are good temporary solutions to protecting your car during a hailstorm.
• Stay inside the vehicle. Large hail stones pose genuine injury threat.
• Keep fleecy blankets in your boot so you can cover your car to minimise the impact of hail.
• Take careful note of the extent of the damage to your car; look for damage to all glass items including side mirrors, taillights and head lights. Taking pictures may be useful when it comes to claims time.
• If you are affected by hail, immediately report the incident to your insurer.

When you are at home:
• Keep your gutters clean. It is important to clear gutters of leaves, twigs and any other debris regularly. Hail takes a while to melt and an overflowing gutter could lead to a leaking roof and further damage. Hail build-up is also heavy, so make sure that the guttering is sound and in good order.
• Trimming trees close to your house helps get rid of branches that can cause severe damage during a storm.
• Keep your blinds down. Make sure you close all curtains, blinds or shutters to prevent broken window glass and hailstones from entering your home and injuring you or your family.
• Park your car in the garage or in a sheltered undercover area.
• Ensure that you are adequately covered against hail damage in your insurance policy so that you have cover when you need it.

“Now is not the time to compromise on your insurance cover – it is very important to know exactly what you are covered for and for what amount. Consumers should make sure their policies are up to date and take a note of the insurer’s available emergency services. Choose an insurer that assists you in protecting your assets in severe weather situations by sending out weather alerts,” concludes Neethling.

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