What you don’t know about fire and your insurance

It’s super nippy out there and people have long since cleaned their fireplaces, dusted off their heaters, and cranked up their electric blankets. While all these winter warmers keep us toasty, they also lead to the occasional fire breaking out in homes across South Africa. Thankfully, if you’ve got home insurance, then the damage will be covered… Or will it?


Unfortunately, just because you have insurance doesn’t automatically mean that you’re covered. It often depends on the type of fire, the type of insurance you’ve selected, and how much insurance you’ve got. Let me tell you all about it so that you can make sure that you’ve got adequate cover in case the unthinkable happens in your home.

Fire Insurance

Start with the type of insurance

To cover fire damage in your home, you’ll need both buildings and home contents insurance. Home contents insurance will cover all the belongings inside your home from fire damage but it won’t cover any damage to the structure of your home, like your walls and floors. That’s where buildings insurance steps in.

It might sound like a bit of overkill to get both, but the reality is that even if a small fire starts in your home and you contain it quickly, it could still cause some structural damage and destroy a few personal belongings. And that could still end up being pretty pricey to deal with if you don’t have buildings cover for the structure and home contents insurance for your stuff. We shudder to think about the cost of having to start over because your entire home was damaged by the flames, smoke, and heat damage.

Ultimately, it’s a good idea to consider having both buildings and home contents insurance.

Now, check that you have enough cover

Far too many South Africans are under-insured, which means that you have insurance but the amount that you’re covered for is less than the value of what you’re insuring. It’s pretty much like insuring a BMW for the value of an older VW beetle.

What insurers do in this case is only pay an amount that’s relative to how much you’re under-insured by. Let’s say that your home is insured for R1.5 million, but it would cost R3 million to rebuild it. You’re actually under-insured by 50% so you’ll be only receive 50% of every claim. The remaining amount will be your responsibility to pay for. That’s a lot of money that has to come out of your own pocket, and is the saltiest salt to rub in a wound.

If you have cover, then chat to your insurer about whether your home is adequately insured and then consider getting a quote or 2 to compare. Why? Because when your insurance amount is increased to reflect the true value that it would take to replace or rebuild, you’ll find that your premium will increase… And you may want to check that you’re getting the best deal.

Check out ‘fire and fury’ home insurance

Things are happening in the insurance world as companies try to differentiate from each other and compete in the market with products that make more sense for consumers. This ‘fire and fury’ cover is 1 such example and with this option, the items in your home (which belong to you and the people who live with you) are covered for a wide range of risks, including fire… But not theft or robbery. That’s why it’s a cheaper type of policy and it’s a good option to consider if you live in an extremely secure neighbourhood (like a gated community or estate) have a state-of-the-art security system, and 24/7 patrols.

We hope these tips help you figure out if you’ve got the right cover for your home, and if you need any help working out the true value of your home structures and belongings, speak to an insurer who can help you out, like these guys.

Watch this space for updates in the Opinion category on Running Wolf’s Rant.

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Staff Writer

Running Wolf's Rant's correspondent who chooses to remain anonymous...

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