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Here’s how to protect yourself and your property in flood season



There is a global rise in climate change linked to extreme weather events. We’ve already seen devastating floods in Durban this year causing more than R650-million in damage. With frequent downpours expected around the country this winter, now is the time to buckle down and proactively prep to mitigate storm damage.

Marius Steyn, Santam’s Manager: Personal Lines Underwriting, says he expects 2019 to be equally stormy. “However, by taking just a few responsible steps, it is possible to protect homes and their contents from damage.”

He said that many people have home contents and building insurance, but forget to check the replacement value of the insured items and contents. “Remember, your total contents need to be adequately insured at the current new replacement value of each item and not the actual value which would take age and wear and tear into consideration. That means updating your insured amount annually to allow for additional purchases made throughout the year. When it comes to your building, you should insure all the structures on your premises at the building replacement value.  Remember this total value should represent all structures like swimming pools, paving, car ports, walls, etc., together with the buildings on the premises.  The property value should, however, not be taken into consideration. Again annually this should be reviewed to keep up with rising costs of building material and building rates.”

Here are Steyn’s top tips for keeping yourself and your home safe from flood damage:

  • Insure your home and its contents at their current replacement value. Make sure you update your cover annually.
  • Know your risks when purchasing a home – ask about the history of the area you are buying in as well as the particular property in terms of flood zones and soil types i.e. clay which could cause a higher propensity of subsidence and landslip when exposed to moisture.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. Watch out for storm warnings. If you’re a Santam client located in an area expected to experience a storm or flood, you will receive an SMS warning.
  • Identify areas on your current property where water can accumulate during heavy rains and find a solution to redirect or absorb the excess water during flooding.
  • If you have a swimming pool, ensure you increase its backwash cycles during the rainy season to prevent possible flooding of buildings.
  • Make sure your drains and gutters are properly functional and clear of leaves and other debris.
  • If your home is on a slope or below street level, make sure there is an unrestricted outflow for the water build-up.
  • Make sure all electrical outlets, fixed heaters and other exposed electrical wiring are at least 300 mm above expected flood levels.
  • Lift furniture and electronic equipment above flood levels in areas where possible flooding may occur.
  • If it is safe, turn off the electricity to the plug point at the main distribution board.
  • If you use sandbags, make sure you place cloth between the layers as this forms a plug between the bags to keep the water outside.
  • If driving is essential, avoid areas where flooding has been reported.
  • Reduce your driving speed in rainy conditions and increase your following distance from the vehicle in front of you.
  • Make sure your headlights are switched on and avoid braking suddenly.
  • Ensure you check your windscreen wiper blades and brake pads regularly, so they are always in good condition.

“We are increasingly experiencing large volumes of rain in short time periods,” says Ruan Smal, a risk analyst and technical specialist at Santam. “Torrential rains in the Western Cape after dry summers increase the possibility of flooding, especially in parched areas where the hard, compact soil is denuded of vegetation.”

Santam offers insurance cover for buildings and their contents for both private and business institutions, which could be impacted by heavy rains and subsequent flooding. Visit Santam.co.za for more information.