The current rolling blackouts have resulted in an increase in appliance claims, according to at least one insurance company. Affected customers claim they cannot afford the exorbitant excess fees when filing claims for faulty appliances.
Load shedding has been wreaking havoc since its inception 15 years ago. Refrigerators are the worst affected, with food spoiling.
Denise Cole is the latest victim. Her refrigerator and television got damaged during load shedding. Despite being insured, she says insurance excess fees have sky-rocketed.
“They must also make their money, now they make it from us. We must pay the insurance. You must pay for your access. If things like this happen now. I didn’t have a TV. So you must now decide if is it important so that you can make ways to make that payment of the excess. your fridge is going off, and all the things in your fridge are going off. So what are you supposed to do? If it goes off, who will compensate you?”
Companies which specialise in repairs say they are also victims of load shedding. They say the rolling blackouts prevent them from meeting deadlines. They say it now takes longer to repair broken appliances.
Manager of Diamond Appliances, Janine Windt says “When the load shedding strikes, or when there is an unfortunate incident with the electricity, we do run off a generator, but we cannot test any appliances off of the generators, so our work comes to a standstill. if we do test appliances, off of the generators, the clients’ appliances are gonna get more damaged.”
The hardest hit by this challenge are the poor and pensioners.
“The pensioners are suffering the worse, I mean for a pensioner to have to fork out five and a half thousand rand for something, and just have to do that again a couple of weeks later, it’s ridiculous,” Windt adds.
Sharp increase in claims
One insurance company has noted a sharp increase in claims in Santam. The company says the increase in excess fees is informed by various factors.
Santam head of Non-Motor Claims Rowland Ramalingam says, “We’ve seen an increase last year, about sixty percent of claims relating to appliances. relating to, you know, load shedding. And that results in power surge claims as well. Look, I can’t comment for all insurers, I think from a risk perspective, insurers will manage that risk and see how to mitigate their loss from that sub-loss clause, you know, power surge claims. And that could be from various initiatives requiring excesses, also requiring clients to put in power surge protectors and various other forms of devices to prevent any sort of power surge damage to their appliances.”
Consumers are advised to switch off their appliances, when the rolling black-outs strike, to minimise damage.
Many don’t see an end in sight, as Eskom continues to ramp up rolling blackouts.