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Extreme Weather And Your Insurance

If you have WhatsApp, chances are strong that you woke up to a barrage of winter-wonderland videos from friends or family around the country, as snow made landfall in Johannesburg, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal over the weekend and early this morning. The South African Weather Service (SAWS) has warned that the combination of very cold temperatures and snowfall poses a risk to anyone conducting outdoor activities.

With extremely cold and wet conditions persisting country-wide, Attie Blaauw, Head of Personal Lines Underwriting at Santam, has advised those living in areas prone to extreme atmospheric conditions in South Africa to take precautions.

“There are steps that can be taken to lower risks associated with property or personal injuries during these extreme weather events. These extreme weather conditions have destroyed economies, lives and livelihoods. Importantly South Africans need to be careful and exercise extreme vigilance in the wake of the severe weather conditions that may inflict the country,” said Blaauw. 

He shares these tips below.

Driving on icy roads

  • If you can avoid driving in icy conditions, do so.
  • If you must drive, make sure you do some checks on your car before leaving. Check the coolant level and antifreeze amount, make sure defrosting and heating equipment is working, check your wipers, and washers and if your vehicles’ tyre tread is sufficient and roadworthy.
  • Check your lights and make sure your remove any snow or ice from your windows for full visibility.
  • Turn on your lights, go slowly and increase your following distance to leave yourself plenty of room to stop. According to Arrive Alive, you should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake very gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  • Do not make use of cruise control and avoid speeding on icy roads.

Driving through a downpour

  • If at all possible, avoid areas prone to flooding – particularly in periods of heavy downpours,
  • Monitor the local radio stations in your area for weather and traffic updates and plan your route accordingly,
  • 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 (Do not put these on the bright setting),
  • Be alert and be aware of the vehicles around you – particularly in times of poor visibility,
  • Obey the rules of the road, especially any temporary signage or hazard warnings around flooding,

Should you find yourself in deep water

  • Stay calm and stay alert – do not panic,
  • Avoid driving through sections of water where you are unable to see the road, this is both risky and dangerous,
  • Do not drive around or through barricades – they have been put there for your safety,
  • Should your vehicle be trapped by rising water, stop, then get out of the car and move to safer or higher ground. Your safety and the safety of your passengers is more important than your vehicle,

How to protect your vehicle from hail

  • If possible, use a GPS or Maps app functionality to search for covered parking facilities nearby (such as a shopping mall),
  • Cover your car with thick fleecy blankets,
  • Think of investing in a low-cost vehicle carport,
  • Ensure that your car is insured for the correct value and that your policy will cover hail damage.