This year’s energy problems have already been described as the worst load shedding in history. Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that 1,054 gigawatt-hours were cut in April 2022 alone, compared to 2,521 reductions for all of 2021. And by July 1, Eskom has cut 2,276 gigawatt-hours of electricity in 2022.

As a result, more and more South Africans are falling victim to the effects of congestion at home, in the business sector and on the streets.

According to insurance companies, there has been a significant increase in claims for damage to sensitive electronics due to voltage spikes caused by load cuts, News24 reports.

READ ALSO: Eskom closes in on record for worst year of load-shedding… just six months on

GROWTH OF INSURANCE NEEDS

In the first half of 2022, Santan recorded a 60% increase in claims, while Dialdirect Insurance saw more thefts and accidents due to power outages.

With Eskom implementing Phase 5 this week (following the implementation of Phase 6 over the weekend), Santam head of claims Faunus Coetzee said the company’s personal and commercial insurance portfolios have seen a spike in surge claims.

Discovery Insure’s head of technical marketing, Preshes Nduli, said the company’s short-term insurance business had also grown by more than 50%.

“In June 2022, when the load shedding was increasing, we were averaging 300 claims a week in the personal business,” she said.

LOAD DIVERSION CAUSES MORE ACCIDENTS AND THEFTS

According to Dialdirect, the load shedding led to a 3.2% increase in thefts and a 5.2% increase in accidents during the week. However, these numbers are more than doubled.

“The dangerous consequences of load shedding are when street lights and traffic lights are down at night,” said Annelie Retief, head of Dialdirect Insurance.

“When unloading is underway, the traffic lights do not work, and this leads to an increase in accidents. And when the power goes out for an extended period, the security systems fail. This inevitably leads to an increase in thefts,” Santam added.

ARE CUSTOMERS FINED FOR THEFT DURING UNLOADING?

“Most insurance policies state in their contracts that the alarm must be activated at all times when the home is unoccupied,” Retief said.

So what happens during load shedding? Are customers penalized if a break-in occurs during a power outage?

OUTsurance says no. The insurance company said that to keep premiums affordable, it has now introduced a higher excess for claims related to power outages.

According to Discovery, the insurer gives its customers the option to purchase a large amount of surge insurance for a small additional premium.

On the other hand, Santam does not cover load shedding under its insurance policy. However, sensitive electronics for customers under building and contents insurance are covered.

READ ALSO: ‘Total blackout’: What will it mean for South Africa?

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