The storms and hail that have swept across Gauteng leaving a swathe of destruction in their wake since Monday has seen one insurer registering nearly 1 500 claims for damage to cars, buildings and homes.
Johan van Greuning, head of Standard Insurance Limited at Standard Bank SA, says that as soon as the South African Weather Service reports regarding severe storms began coming in, prior to any actual damage reports, the bank activated its plans to ensure that clients in need could lodge claims as conveniently as possible.
“”To assist clients, we have extended our call centre daily operating hours until 20:00 so that claims can be registered after hours. For customers who prefer to lodge claims electronically, our online site or mobile and tablet app can be accessed 24-hours a day,” he says.
The storms, which according to numerous reports are set to continue, have caused widespread damage to personal property and claims lodged include smashed windows, damaged roofs and ceilings, as well as damage to furniture and fittings within homes due to leaking ceilings. A large number of claims have also been submitted by motorists caught in the open by the storms.
Van Greuning notes that many insurance companies issue SMS or electronic warnings to clients about potential storms and hail. “These notifications should be taken seriously and steps should be taken to secure homes and park cars under cover.”
Additional steps that the public can take to avoid damage to homes and property when storms strike include:
* Make sure computers, TVs, decoders and other equipment is disconnected from wall sockets to avoid damage caused by electricity surges caused by lightning strikes.
* Check that roofs do not have broken or loose tiles that allow the entry of water during heavy downpours.
* Ensure that roof gutters are clean and unclogged, so that water does not accumulate and seep through roof tiles on to ceilings.
* Keep house windows shut, so reducing the chance of them being hit by hail or shattered by high winds.
“For motorists who are caught unawares whilst driving, we advocate a number of cautionary steps,” says Van Greuning.  These include:
* Be proactive and ensure that windscreen wipers are always in good condition so that they can cope with sudden downpours.
* Turn headlights on so that you can be seen by other vehicles.
* Reduce speed to match the road conditions.
* If you can, pull off the road safely and activate your car’s hazard lights as a warning to other motorists.
* Never get out of your vehicle, because of possible injury from hailstones.
* Do not attempt to drive through water washing across the road. Your car could stall in the water and it requires only about 15cm of rapidly moving water to wash a car away.