Top tips to protect your home against volatile weather

14 June 2022 Old Mutual Insure
Lizo Mnguni, Spokesperson for Old Mutual Insure

Lizo Mnguni, Spokesperson for Old Mutual Insure

Are you prepared? Here are simple things you can do to prevent damage

During the month of June every year, some parts of the world observe National Homeownership Month. The recent and devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal, one of the worst on record in the history of the country, have shown us how vulnerable many South African homes are to weather-related damage.

“Against this background, now is an opportune time to shine a spotlight on how homeowners can protect their homes,” says Lizo Mnguni, spokesperson for Old Mutual Insure. “There is a lot that homeowners can do to get prepared before disaster strikes.”

He explains that our homes are usually the biggest asset we will ever buy over in our lives, and so protecting its long-term value is priority for most property owners.

Storms and persistent wet weather

Mnguni suggests that before rainy weather and storms, a good check is to know exactly where your house’s shut-off valves are for the main water supply, should water damage occur.

“Check your gutters and drainpipes to avoid leaves and other debris from clogging them up and damaging your home’s exterior siding. Also unplug all electronic devices, including cell phones, laptops and Wi-Fi routers to prevent serious damage to these devices should you experience lightning. You may also consider a back-up generator in case of power failures during storms.”

Mnguni also suggests that you have emergency home assistance in place and have emergency numbers on speed dial in case off an incident at home, such as flooding, or a tree falling on the roof. Home assistance services can add tremendous value during storm periods to homeowners who experience any type of emergency.

“The only option when storms are upon us is for homeowners to be proactive, which can lower the possibility of damage to belongings as a result of extreme weather conditions.”

How to protect your home against fire

“During the cold winter months, like what we are currently experiencing, fireplaces and other open flames tend to be the leading cause of fires. However, we have also seen a strange onset of fires in the winter months that occur due to warmer weather, especially in residential areas that are situated near ecologically sensitive areas,” says Mnguni.

He explains that when it comes to fire insurance, homeowner insurance typically helps cover your home and belongings. Most policies include coverages that may help pay to repair or replace your home and its contents if they are damaged by fire. When it comes to fire damage, homeowners’ insurance typically helps pay for repairs to your home, unattached structures on your property and your belongings.

“However, homeowners’ insurance may not cover all types of fire damage. For instance, if you intentionally start a fire in your home, you'll generally find homeowners insurance will not pay to repair the damage. It will also not cover any damage caused by wear and tear, or a lack of maintenance on behalf of the homeowner,” says Mnguni.

He explains it is important to regularly conduct a comprehensive risk evaluation of your premises to prevent any incidents.

“If you have a fireplace or indoor braai, clean your chimney flue regularly for ventilation and fire mitigation, use a fire screen to prevent any cinders or sparks from flying across the room and never leave a fire unattended. You could also consider fireproofing roofing materials and repairs to roof cracks. Another idea is to look at installing a fireproof safe to keep some of your irreplaceable valuables.”

Other proactive things homeowners can do

Mnguni says that there are many misconceptions about insurance. He says the first one is around understanding the difference between replacement value vs market value. Building Insurance works on replacement value not market value.

“You can be both under- and over-insured. Check and calculate the replacement value of your building or house at least once a year to make sure you are adequately insured,” says Mnguni. “Also, buyers must be careful not to be insured in multiple places for one building, i.e., insured through the bank, maybe the body corporate and their own private insurance.”

However, he says the most important thing is to remember is that your homeowner insurance policy is not a maintenance contract.

“It is important for buyers to understand that buildings insurance provides cover against specific insurable events, and one cannot claim for things like a damaged ceiling due to excessive rainwater that has leaked into the roof from gutters being clogged up,” concludes Mnguni.

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