The devastation and loss of lives following the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal marks the worst natural disaster ever experienced in South Africa. More than 300 people have been confirmed dead, and the figure is set to go higher as rescue workers continue to comb through the debris. An estimated 140 schools are affected, electrical substations submerged, power lines severed, and roads and bridges destroyed. The damage to infrastructure in KZN after the 2019 flash floods was estimated at R1.1 billion yet estimates for this one already exceeds that.
The South African Insurance Association (SAIA) would like to convey its heartfelt condolences to the families of those that have lost their lives during these floods. Some of our members have already made their presence felt in the disaster-stricken area and continue to provide not only insurance claims advice, but most importantly at this time of need, humanitarian assistance. Our members have already deployed their respective teams to the ground in the impacted areas to assist those in need, where possible, as well as policyholders who have been impacted by the floods. SAIA and its members would like to assure impacted policyholders that systems have been put in place to assist them with their claims. Should you be impacted by the floods, please do contact your insurer or financial advisor immediately.
SAIA and its members have been concerned about the potential impact of climate change for many years and have been engaging with various relevant stakeholders on issues around risks related to climate change. The most recent engagement was in February 2022, through a climate change webinar where SAIA engaged with climate change experts including a view of municipal readiness in assisting communities to recover following climate change events.
SAIA recommends the following immediate safety precautions:
- If advised to evacuate your home, do so immediately.
- Move immediately to higher ground or stay on high ground.
- Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters. (Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.)
- After a flood, return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and take note of debris.
- Should your home be surrounded by floods, if safe to do so, photograph the damage to your property for insurance purposes.
SAIA recommends that you examine any policies you have or intend to take out to see what is covered. Several insurance products will assist you in recovering from the adverse effects of storms and flooding.
- Homeowner/Building Cover: This insurance covers the building and other permanent and immovable objects within your property boundaries. Most homeowner policies include perimeter walls, garages, gates, motors that power them, outbuildings, swimming pools, borehole pumps, fixtures, and fittings in the house or flat.
- Household Contents Cover: This includes your furniture, clothes, crockery, linen and other items in the house. A household-contents insurance cover will assist you by replacing, repairing, or reinstating the damaged goods after flooding.
- Landslip and Subsidence Cover: This cover is an optional cover at additional insurance premium therefore must be specifically requested if to be included, therefore engage your broker or insurer for this cover to be included. This insurance cover assists you if your building or contents are damaged due to landslip or soil subsidence.
- All-Risk Cover: This cover primarily cover items that are mobile such as cellphones, cameras, and laptops.
Policy details vary between different insurance companies. Do ensure that you understand the full extent of the cover provided by each of your policies. If you are uncertain about what has been covered, please get in touch with your insurance company or broker for a full explanation.