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Storm damage insurance claims: property owners be warned

14 Nov 2016

Recent storms in South Africa not only wreaked havoc in the streets of Bloemfontein and Gauteng, but also sent the short-term insurance sphere spinning.

Recent storms in South Africa not only wreaked havoc in the streets of Bloemfontein and Gauteng, but also sent the short-term insurance sphere spinning, says Commins.

Gavin Commins, CEO of The Valuator Group, who specialises in property and asset valuations, says physical damage to cars and property is evident, and the financial implications for short-term insurance policy owners can be far reaching as the industry receives a flood of claims, which are often not easily accepted or approved.

According to experts, Commins says South Africa should be bracing itself for extreme wet-weather conditions and possible floods, which scientists expect to be brought on by La Niña from December this year to February 2017.

The El Nino phenomenon has caused a devastating drought across the country over the past year, and last year the country received its lowest rainfall since 1904. La Niña, on the other hand, is the counterpart of El Nino, and is accompanied by a drop in ocean temperature with cold and wet weather conditions.

“Although the rain will be most welcome, short-term insurance companies are urging their clients to protect their assets and mitigate risk against loss or damage,” he says.

Commins says insurance companies are tightening their reins on improperly valued assets. Homeowners may run into difficulties with claims and compensation for payments that they have already made to repair the damage if the valuations are not accurate.

“We’ve noticed a definite upswing in the need for independent professional valuations,” he says.

“Independent valuations lend assurance and peace of mind to insured parties and insurers. For the policy owner, knowing that your assets are covered to their fair value is imperative.

Commins says short-term insurers will apply the Average Clause if assets are undervalued, which could have disastrous financial consequences for clients.

“One should never under-insure valuables in order to lower premiums - it just doesn’t pay in the long run,” he says.

“Companies are also suggesting that one should even enlist a professional assessment team that can identify risk areas of your home, business, stock and equipment and implement suitable risk prevention measures.”

Commins says individuals should also check their insurance policies to ensure that they are covered for storm and hail damage as this is sometimes omitted.

“Although your insurer is there to oversee you and your claim, policy holders must safeguard themselves by making certain that they are adequately covered, as ultimately it is their responsibility,” says Commins.

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