Geyser Insurance and Water Damage

When you are the proud owner of a home, it brings you much joy but also many responsibilities. To protect your home and its contents you will have to take out insurance to protect you against various risks. The contents of your house, such as your furniture, clothes and personal possessions are covered by taking out Householders Insurance.

Comprehensive Homeowner’s insurance, on the other hand, protects your home itself. The risks which you are protected against would include the following:

  1. Fire, explosions
  2. Acts of nature such as wind, thunder, lightning storm, floods, hail and snow
  3. Earthquakes
  4. Bursting of geysers and water pipes

Having comprehensive homeowner’s insurance will be a condition if you take out finance in the form of a home loan. If your house is fully paid the responsibility to see that your house is sufficiently insured is yours alone. It is suicidal not to have homeowners insurance, you could be financially ruined if your house burns down.

Geyser-related losses are probably the biggest single claim factor insurers have to deal with. The insurance industry replaced more than 30 000 geysers in 2006. Many people mistakenly think that geysers are covered under householder insurance but it is not, you must have homeowner’s insurance to cover your geyser.

It is very important to know what exclusions there are on your homeowner’s policy. Geysers are a particular bug-bear. You may be covered for the replacement of a burst geyser but not the resultant water damage to ceilings, walls and carpets. In some instances you may be covered but have to pay two excess amounts – one for the geyser and another for the resultant damage. There will also, most probably, be a limit to the amount you can claim.

Global warming did not pass South Africa by, our weather patterns have changed. The Cape had one of its wettest winters ever and insurance companies were inundated with claims for leaking roofs. People are very upset when insurance companies fail to pay out against many of these claims. It is the old story—you must read your policy carefully.

According to any homeowners policy you have a responsibility to maintain your house in a reasonable state of repair. Gutters and downpipes blocked by leaves, a roof not painted, sealed or maintain for many years will inevitably lead to leaking and resulting damage. The insurance company may refuse to pay out on a claim should it be determined that you did not carry out basic care. They may also cover the damage caused inside your house only after you had the roof fixed at your own expense.

As a responsible homeowner you should maintain your home, something many people don’t do, especially in difficult economic times. Check your home regularly, keep gutters clear, check your roof, remove overhanging branches from nearby trees, they can cause major damage.

As far as geysers are concerned your best bet is to be pro-active. You can ask your plumber to implement a preventative maintenance programme such as correct anode replacement and a regular geyser-valve cleanup. When installing a new geyser have a drip-tray installed as well. This is actually a requirement by law and will collect a lot of the water and hopefully you will become aware of the problem before further damage is done.

Be aware of tell-tale signs such as a rumbling geyser or steam coming out when you open the hot water taps. Switch off the geyser immediately and turn off the main water supply.

A product called Water Angel was launched in South Africa in 2007 and won technology and business excellence rewards. The patented Water Angel system monitors geysers by detecting a leaking geyser or pipe and switch off the water and power supply to the geyser. It may be worth your while investigating this option.