Home Insurance: Adulting 101

So you’re about to move into a new home and are now investigating different home insurance policies for which you’re getting a million and one quotes. Before you sign on the dotted line for the necessary evil of home insurance, there are a few things about which you should probably be aware. Today’s world is a stormy ocean of different required insurance types – pet, medical, life (which, tautologically, only covers you when your life comes to an end), car, travel, umbrella, and home insurance are but some of the policy types you need in order to function as a real adult. And each of those types have different criteria and exclusions, and before you know it – you’re drowning in the fine print and jargon. Sunburst Electric would like to buoy you up and steer you through the murky waters of ensuring that your home insurance covers you for electrical faults and damages.

You may have finally selected your home insurer, but the first thing you need to know is that home insurance doesn’t automatically cover you for electrical faults. In this article on moneyshop, Santie Steven from Insurance Busters explains that “This cover is not automatically included. Some insurers will offer additional cover to be taken out, called mechanical and electrical breakdown cover. The client needs to pay extra to enjoy this cover. It is important that client[s] understand the terms and conditions under this additional section that can be taken out at an additional cost as there may be many exclusions.” So, check your fineprint and go back to the drawing board if necessary.

Other insurers may only offer the option in a very limited way whereby the homeowner can contact a company to investigate issues, and the call-out fee and first hour of labour may be covered under his/her insurance policy. The cover ranges between R5k to R20k, and Stevens explains that “The higher the insured amount chosen by the client the higher the monthly rate will be. This cover is for electrical or mechanical breakdown on white goods. Therefore the insurer will always request a damage report. There is normally an excess (1st uninsurable amount) payable.” If you’re happy with that option, then it’s smooth sailing. But what if you’re after more comprehensive cover? And what are all of the possible exclusions?

Exclusions aren’t standardised, and each insurer has different exclusions. Stevens explains that “Normal exclusions by insurers who do offer [electrical damage] cover as an additional add on, will be wear and tear, damage caused by rodents and cockroaches, etc.,” and adds that damage caused by power surges is excluded by most insurers and isn’t covered. It all boils down to being specific when you request insurance cover since – according to Stevens – “If damage is caused due to a power surge and the client did not specifically request this cover to be  included under the contents and building section of the cover, it will be excluded, even under the mechanical and electrical section of a policy if this was available to add on. … Insurers who normally do offer mechanical and electrical breakdown cover, will normally offer accidental damage as well. Accidental damage is normally excluded on certain items in the house and this extension must be taken out and paid for to enjoy cover. If accidental damage [is] automatically included and forms part of the cover it is limited and the client should ensure they understand the exclusion on their policy.”

Surge protection is particularly important in a place like South Africa, and is electrical fire damage insurance. Simply put, whip out a magnifying glass and make sure you peruse that fine print very, very carefully. Know what type of insurance is best suited to your specific needs, and make sure that you discuss those needs with your insurance broker. Ask questions about what is excluded and what is covered when requesting electrical faults and damages insurance. When it comes to ensuring that you and your expensive goodies and gadgets are protected, there really is no such thing as a stupid question.

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