17 Jul 2017 laia

Motor and home winter insurance checklist make sure you are covered

The cold and icy weather conditions during the winter months in South Africa increases the likelihood of both motor vehicle accidents as well as property damages occurring. As a result, motorists and homeowners are urged to ensure their motor vehicles and properties are prepared to handle the change in season by conducting the appropriate safety checks and maintenance.

This is according to Dawie Loots, CEO at MUA Insurance Acceptances, who says that by conducting some basic checks, motorists and homeowners can mitigate the risk of an insurance claim during the winter period. “It is also important to ensure insurance policies are in place and that consumers are aware of the terms and conditions to avoid any claims being rejected.”

Motor checklist:

Loots explains that the risk of road accidents increases during winter because the roads are slippery either from frost due to icy weather or from water during winter rainfall, which typically takes place in the Cape region. “By conducting the below vehicle safety checks before driving in winter conditions will alleviate the risk of the driver being involved in an accident, while also reducing the possibility of any insurance claims being rejected.”

  • Check the tyre tread is not under the legal limit – a low tyre tread makes tyres much more slippery, increasing the breaking distance and therefore the risk of accidents;
  • Make sure the battery is in a working condition – colder weather can often cause problems with vehicle batteries;
  • Check and replace worn wiper blades;
  • Ensure all motor vehicle lights are working – break lights included;
  • Conduct regular checking of coolant, water and oil levels; and
  • Make sure brakes are tested and replaced if needed.

Home checklist:

From a home perspective, more people are lighting fires or keeping heaters on all night during winter which increases the chances of home fires taking place, says Loots.

He provides the below tips for homeowners to reduce their risk of potential fires in the home during winter:

  • Avoid overloading plug points
  • Use gas appliances responsibly
  • Never leave electrical appliances on standby mode
  • Ensure chimneys and fireplaces are maintained before use

During the cold winter weather there is often an increased use of electrical appliances, such as heaters, electric blankets, coffee machines and devices that provide entertainment as more people stay indoors. With all these electric appliances being used there is typically not enough plug points to accommodate this and as a result in many homeowners using multi-plug adaptors and overload the system. Try avoid this by consulting with an electrician on how to safely use multiple appliances.

A lot of homeowners use gas appliances as an alternative reliable source of energy, especially during winter. Gas appliances such as stoves and heaters pose a fire hazard if they have not had the appropriate safety checks and are not used responsibly. If a fire is caused by a gas appliance that was not installed by a qualified gas installer, the related claim can be rejected.

Many people do not realise that the electric current is still flowing in an appliance that is placed in standby mode. This can possibly cause a fire in the event of a power surge and can also lead to the damage of the household transformers.

The benefits of having a fireplace comes with the responsibility of regular maintenance. This means inspecting the chimney for any loose or missing mortar and making sure the damper is filled tightly. It is advisable to have the chimney cleaned professionally every year before winter starts as leaves or birds’ nests could be stuck in the chimney and prove to be a dangerous fire hazard.

“By adhering to the above winter checklists, motorists and homeowners will not only lessen the risk of physical harm to themselves and others, but will also alleviate the financial and emotional strain of a massive insurance claim,” he concludes.

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