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Your hail season survival guide

22 November 2019 Santam

Summertime is historically hail season in the northern parts of South Africa. Hail stones vary vastly in diameter – from the size of marbles to the size of golf balls.

They cause millions of Rands worth of damage each year – last year, the short-term insurer, Santam, paid out more than R610 million in hail and special peril-related claims. To avoid costly hail damage, it is worth being prepared for hail season.

Santam’s personal lines underwriting manager Marius Neethling says: “Hail is an extremely destructive natural weather pattern. Hailstones can measure up to 7 cm in diameter so it is easy to see why so much irreparable damage is done 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 whether the damage could be repaired paint less or not. 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.

Statistics show an average of six to eight hail days each year in parts of Gauteng and Lesotho, the eastern Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. So, how can South Africans living in these parts of the country prepare for the inevitable fall-outs of these storms? Neethling offers some tips to help the Northerners be adequately prepared for hail storms:

If you are on the road or 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 hail storm.
• 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, tail lights 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 buildup 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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