Household Insurance and Accidental Damage

Household Insurance provides cover for the contents of your house as well as limited cover for contents outside your house such as your garden furniture when damage resulted from an insured peril. The “normal” perils you are insured for are damage caused by fire, theft, lightning, impact, storm and water damage. You may assume that you are covered for every possible happening and find out too late that it is not the case.

The most prevalent example in South Africa at the present time will be the regular power failures or power cuts (load shedding) we all experience. Electronic equipment such as your personal computer, television sets, fridges and freezers can all be damaged by power surges or spikes associated with power cuts.

You come home after a frustrating day at the office (more load shedding) only to find that your television was damaged beyond repair by a power surge. Luckily you have household insurance and they will pay for the repair…..or will they? The bad news is that most insurance policies do not provide cover for this specific event unless your television set was specified on an All Risks policy. Any items you have listed under the All Risks section will be protected against accidental damage.

With insurance the golden rule is – read the small print and arm yourself with knowledge – never assume anything.

With household insurance you have the choice of a number of additional optional covers, one being Accidental Damage Extension. If you had this additional cover you would be in a position to claim for the damage caused by the power surge. You do have to specify the amount of accidental damage cover you require and you will pay extra for this cover but the amount is usually small in comparison to the total damage you may be left with if you do not have accidental damage cover. . The insurance company will place a limit per item and maximum amount per event.

Small children and expensive gadgets or family heirlooms in the form of breakable objects in your home? You may want to consider accidental damage cover; your basic household content cover is not going to help you in this case.

If you have accidental damage cover and your freezer is damaged by a power surge or spike the damage will be covered. Pool pumps and electronic gate motors can also be included under accidental damage cover.

Another plus is that should you have to claim against this cover your no-claim bonus is not affected. Arranging accidental damage cover will be far cheaper than having to list every electronic device in your house on an all risks policy.

Will you be covered in the event of a burglary and the alarm system failed to respond? Your responsibility is to ensure that your alarm system and back up batteries are in proper working order at all times. We asked a number of insurers if they will meet a claim should the alarm system fail even after you took the necessary preventative measures. The answer is yes, they will pay out against a claim in such as event. DO NOT TAKE THIS FOR GRANTED. Rather contact your insurer and make 100% sure.

The Insurance Industry will have to look at the issue of power cuts and make adjustments to policy documents accordingly but until such time you are best advised to make arrangements with your own insurer.

When completing an application for household insurance it is therefore very important to complete the section referring to Accidental Cover Damage. Some companies may include some accidental damage cover as part of their standard policy but the amount may be far too small, rather read the small print and ask your broker or insurance company.

Better safe than sorry!