Cape of Storms and Claims: Navigating the wet and wild world of insurance!

By Dave Zetner

Ahoy, Cape Town residents! If you’ve recently been serenading the rain gods, it seems they’ve heard you loud and clear. With the recent downpours and the Western Cape resembling a water park more than our beloved peninsula, many of us have been left with more than just wet socks. From drenched driveways to the occasional floating car, it’s been a season to remember (or forget, depending on how waterlogged your living room is).

But fear not, dear Capetonians! While we can’t control the weather (yet), we can undoubtedly navigate the stormy seas of insurance claims. So, grab your umbrella and dive into some frequently asked questions that have been pouring in (pun intended).

‘Act of God’ or Act of Insurance

You might wonder if your household insurance covers storm damage to your house or vehicle. After all, isn’t a storm an ‘Act of God’? Good news! Most policies do provide coverage for such divine interventions. However, always keep your policy booklet closer than your raincoat. Some might have exclusions, especially for vehicles.

Double Trouble in the Mother City

With Cape Town’s repeat performance of storms this winter, you might be thinking, “Can I claim again, even if I just claimed a few months ago?” The answer is, “Generally, yes.” But remember: it’s essential to fix any damage from previous claims. Insurers have a keen eye for spotting a leaky roof that’s been left unattended.

The Tale of the Toppling Tree

If a tree decides to take a nap on your property, who do you call? Ghostbusters? Not quite. Start with your insurance. But if that tree was from your neighbour’s yard or the City Council’s pavement, and they’ve been neglecting its upkeep, you might also have a claim against them. If it’s not your tree, the negligent gardener also needs to cover the removal cost. (It’s a bit like a detective story but with fewer trench coats and more tree branches.)

The Under-Insurance Umbrella

Here’s a splash of cold water: many are under-insured for the kind of damage we’re seeing. It’s like wearing gumboots when you need a full-on wetsuit. Regularly review your policy and ensure it covers the total replacement value of your home and its contents. And, no, that doesn’t mean what someone might pay for your home, but what it would cost to rebuild or repair it. So, if you are found to be underinsured, say by 20%, any claim will be reduced by this amount, too!

Snap, Crackle, and Document!

Always document and photograph your property and its contents. Think of it as taking selfies with your sofa or photoshoots with your fridge. This way, you have all the evidence you need when making a claim. Plus, who doesn’t love a good home photoshoot?

Now, as the sun finally peeks through the clouds and we swap our rain boots for flip-flops, it’s essential to remember that the ever-changing weather affects us all. Whether it’s the bright sun causing wear and tear or the heavy rains testing the strength of our roofs, our homes are continuously facing the elements. And with these changes come the need to be ever vigilant about our insurance coverage.

In conclusion, while we can’t predict when the next storm will hit or when the sun will shine bright, we can ensure that our homes and belongings are adequately protected. So, the next time you’re enjoying a sunny day or preparing for a stormy night, remember to review your insurance policy. Because, as we’ve seen, the weather might be unpredictable, but with the right coverage, our peace of mind doesn’t have to be.

Stay dry, stay insured, and always keep your sense of humour, Cape Town! After all, every cloud (or insurance claim) has a silver lining.

• Published in the November 2023 issue – Click here to start reading.

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