News Release

November 16, 2016

Nino Meets Nina

Keep Your Possessions Safe and Insured From the Downpour

Johannesburg came to a standstill yesterday during a flash flood that swept cars away in Gilloolys interchange and wreaked havoc across Gauteng, highlighting just how very vulnerable we are to the changing weather patterns. The downpour happened in a matter of minutes in the late afternoon with incredible intensity, proving that extreme weather catastrophes can happen with very little warning, if any. General consensus from meteorologists in the know is that South Africa should brace for an El Nina phenomenon, bringing abnormally heavy rain falls and a high risk of flash floods until at least February 2017.

Mandy Barrett of insurance brokerage and risk advisors, Aon South Africa, says, "There is no disputing that South Africa has braved a brutal drought over the last months, so any sign of the El Nino phenomenon (dry, low rainfall conditions) being swept away by El Nina (high rainfall) is likely to be welcomed with open arms. But the severity of the flooding that we witnessed yesterday is alarming, and while there is little that you can do to prevent a flood, there are some important tips to take heed of to protect your personal safety and assets in such freak weather conditions."

On the road:

  • If you can, rather avoid driving in heavy downpours. Treacherous potholes could be hiding in the guise of a puddle. Never attempt to drive through a flooded area of the road – even a few centimetres of water is powerful enough to sweep a car away.
  • Get yourself to safety as quickly as possible – if you can, get out of the vehicle and get to high ground. Don’t close all the windows as the water will cause a vacuum and trap you in the car.
  • Many car accident claims are due to slippery roads and potholes. Tyre damage is not an uncommon occurrence, and is normally not covered by a motor insurance policy unless another part of the vehicle is damaged at the same time.
  • Check your tyre tread and replace worn tyres - an accident claim could potentially be repudiated if the tread is deemed insufficient to have stopped the vehicle in time. The legally required minimum tread depth is 1.6mm.
  • Increase your following distance and reduce your speed to allow enough time to react.
  • Watch out for potholes as they are filled with water in rainy conditions. Heavy rainfalls can also cause potholes to appear where there weren’t any previously.
  • Watch for motorists swerving to avoid objects in the road and be prepared to do the same.
  • Many traffic lights are out of order during heavy rain, so drive carefully.
  • Roads are congested with many tempers fraying, keep your cool.

Tips for home:

  • Your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover any damage to the structure of the building as a direct result of freak rainstorms, but will not cover maintenance-related damage. This means that while your insurance will respond by repairing the damage caused by a leaking roof, it will not cover the repair of the roof’s waterproofing if it deteriorated due to lack of maintenance.
  • If you’re faced with flooding of your property, try to move as many of your belongings as you can out of the water – the longer the water is left sitting, the more damage it causes. Try and clear away as much of the water as you possibly can to prevent further and permanent damage.
  • Half a meter of paving along the perimeter of a building can help with damp problems.
  • Keep gutters clear of debris to facilitate proper drainage around the house. Protect inlet/outlet pipes of any drains and storm water drainage against blockage from debris.
  • Check the waterproofing and flashings on the roof on a regular basis.
  • Install lightning rods along the outside of the house if your area is prone to lightning strikes and fit plugs with surge protection.

"Discuss your motor and household insurance with your broker to make sure you are comprehensively covered for such eventualities. The growing risks presented by our changing weather patterns demands that you review your needs in detail and get impartial and professional advice to ensure your cover meets those needs. Choice, simplicity of wording and customisation will ensure that your assets are covered correctly," concludes Mandy.

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