Home insurance: How to arm yourself against rejection of a storm damage claim
Consumer journo Wendy Knowler says she gets a steady stream of complaints about homeowner's insurance claims not being paid out for property damage sustained during a storm.
This could be anything from boundary walls collapsing to tiles being blown off a roof.
Knowler relates the story of a Pretoria couple whose thatched lapa fell apart during a storm in January.
Absa Insurance rejected their claim saying the structure had in fact collapsed because the poles had deteriorated.
“It was determined that these damages have not occurred as a result of any sudden and unforeseen insured event; and these damages are not covered in terms of the Absa Homeowners Comprehensive Insurance Policy and as a result liability for your claim will not be accepted.”
It was too late to call in an expert for a second opinion on the state of the poles because the property owners had already had the remains of the lapa removed, believing it posed a danger to their children.
In so many cases, says Knowler, the insurers find that it wasn’t that the storm was too violent for the structure to withstand - the structure itself was sub-standard in some way.
But here’s the thing - the storm which lashed South Africa on January 25 was not just any storm - it was Tropical Storm Eloise, a pretty sudden and unforeseen event, and I’m pretty sure all insurers saw a spike in claims on that day as a result.Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
Knowler asked Absa if their assessors were comfortable that they had made a fair decision in this case?
The insurer revisited the claim and found that in light of the gradual deterioration of the poles, the collapse of the structure was inevitable.
"This background together with the assessor’s findings that the storm merely aggravated the situation and was not the direct nor sole cause of the damage was the basis for the repudiation of the claim."
Read your homeowner's insurance policy carefully and make sure you understand all the extensions and exclusions, Knowler advises.
And get your walls, lapas, roofs, etcetera checked out by a professional regularly
Listen to Knowler's advice in the audio below:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Home insurance: How to arm yourself against rejection of a storm damage claim