WATER-SHEDDING 101 – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
With many parts of South Africa struggling with water interruptions and poor supply, our latest blog takes a look at how the right insurance policies can help protect yourself and your business against all the eventualities stemming from water-shedding.
HIGH AND DRY
South Africa has seen increasing instances of water-shedding and extended water interruptions, not only of a few hours in duration, but often of several days and even weeks.
Alternative water sources are not so easy to develop, unlike load-shedding, where other energy sources are readily available; and as a result, South Africans can expect regular water cuts for the foreseeable future.
Water shortages and cuts are not only a significant inconvenience and a health risk, but can also result in geyser failure. Coupled with power surges resulting from load-shedding, which can destroy sensitive electronics, geysers are at even more risk than before.
Water-shedding may result in an insufficient water supply to geysers.
As hot water is used during water-shedding, the geyser’s heating element may be exposed to air if the water level drops below the heating element level. The heating element is not designed to be exposed to air while heating and it will fail. For example, if your kettle’s heating element is exposed to air when it is switched on it may overheat and break.
From an insurance perspective, the question is, when would you be covered and when not?
The items that you want to insure will depend on the available cover provided by your policy.
It’s important for you to be familiar with your policy wording, and what your responsibilities are. This will help you to ensure that you are adequately covered.
Geysers and resultant damage can be insured under household buildings cover which automatically includes cover for geyser failures. Only damages or losses because of a specific covered incident such as fire, theft and flooding are covered, but damage to your plumbing system due to wear and tear is not.
Here’s how you can protect yourself against the insurance risks posed by water-shedding:
- Switch off your geyser. Make sure to turn off your geyser on the distribution board prior to both load-shedding and water-shedding.
- Maintain your geyser. Regular servicing will increase the longevity of your geyser. It should be serviced every three to four years in areas with good water quality, and every two years if you have poor-quality or hard water.
- Close your taps. If the water supply is cut without warning, it is easy to forget that you had the taps running to wash the dishes or run a bath. If you go out and the water supply is restored while your home is empty, you could return to a flooded home. Your buildings policy will usually cover damaged carpets, ceilings, wooden floors and other structural parts of your home, while your home contents policy would cover items such as your furniture, appliances and electronics.
- Minimise fire risks. Periods of hot and dry weather, combined with water shortages, pose a significant fire risk. A building insurance policy requires you to take reasonable precautions to prevent fires or minimise potential loss. For example, storing combustible materials close to building structures may be seen as negligent.
CONSERVING OUR WATER
With South Africa’s water deficit predicted to grow to around 17% by 2030, it is wise to educate yourself on the various water conservation methods available.
- Water storage tanks have proved to be an effective method of mitigating the impact of abrupt water restrictions and outages on homes and businesses.
- Harvest rainwater using buckets or basins placed under gutter downpipes and out in open areas. By keeping this water covered and out of direct sunlight, you can safely store it for watering your garden or cleaning your car.
- Finally, you can also speak to a specialist about accessing underground water reservoirs via a borehole. It’s vital to have a survey conducted first as there are no guarantees that water will be available to use.