Is Your Home Insurance Policy Winter-ready?
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While many parts of South Africa are spared heavy rains – and the attendant threat of flooding – during the cold months, Old Man Winter still presents his own unique set of challenge to the cautious homeowner.
Taking into account seasonal considerations is very important when constructing your home insurance policy, and with winter’s chill already settling deep into our bones, now is as good a time as any to think about what extra dangers your home and household contents are facing during this time of the year.
While freezing winds rage outside, many people huddle around the fireplace with their families, staving off the cold with hot chocolate, good company, and a blazing fire.
It sounds idyllic, but that fire is a potential safety hazard, and one that certainly justifies getting cover against fire damage to your home.
Of course, the best insurance policy is one that you never have to claim against, so while you should make sure that you’re covered in case the fire gets out of hand, it is always a better idea to take play it safe and take the necessary precautions.
So, make sure that the area around the fireplace is clutter-free and does not have any flammable materials laying about. Additionally, when you’re getting ready for bed, don’t trust that dying flames mean that the fire can be safely ignored. Embers can ignite flammable materials almost as readily as fire can, and even if the flames look like they’re gone and not coming back, you can’t be sure unless you douse the fireplace with a good helping of water.
Unsurprisingly, fire hazard are the biggest insurance risk that comes with winter, and electrical or gas heaters present almost as much danger as do actual naked flames.
With the extra pressure of additional appliances being hooked up to your power points, there is always the risk that bad wiring or an overloaded plug could short out, cause a spark, and ignite a carpet, rug or other flammable household item.
To avoid waking up or coming home to a disaster, make sure to check the wiring of that heater you pulled out of the hallway closet for the season. And never go to bed, work, or out with friends, without disconnecting the extra appliances that you’ve hooked up to heat the chill from your bones.
Above all, do not leave a heater running unattended. We know it’s nice to come home to a warm house, but it’s not so great to come home to a burning one.
You’ve seen the frost collecting on your windshield when you get up early for work, but have you ever considered what that same sort of freezing might do to your plumbing?
While South Africa rarely gets cold enough to freeze more than a thin skin of water, it is not unheard of for water to freeze in out pipes. This could cause an accumulation of damage that may well result in burst pipes, flooding and widespread water damage throughout your home.
It is a good idea to have someone come in on an annual basis, to inspect your home and your pipes and to make sure that everything is resilient and in good working order.
Even with the best home insurance policy in the world, prevention is better than cure, and you want to avoid disasters before you have to go through the disruptive inconvenience of cleaning up after a catastrophe while waiting for your insurance company to process your claim.