Are you insured for hail damage?

As South Africa enters hail season - from October to January - we look at the cover you need to protect your personal and business assets against hail damage. We also explore some precautions you can take to limit hail damage to your property.

Limited warning
Unfortunately, hail cannot be predicted very far in advance. At best, weather satellites can predict a hailstorm with only a few hours’ notice. While timing is limited it is better than being caught unprepared and it does offer time to move vehicles, farming assets (like animals) and other valuables. In 2013, hailstorms cost the South African short-term insurance industry more than R2 billion.

Risk region
These key elements mean you’re in a high-risk area for hail, the area has: summer rainfall, experiences thunderstorms, is high above sea level and is near to mountain ranges.

In South Africa, the south of Mpumalanga, the west of KwaZulu-Natal, the northern parts of the Eastern Cape and the east of the Free State are the highest-risk hail regions. The southern part of South Africa also carries some risk but with a far lower frequency.

Farmers need hail cover
Farmers must undergo a thorough risk assessment to ensure they get the best cover and advice. The amount of cover they require will depend on where they farm, the associated environmental factors and trends and the maximum damage hail could cause, which depends on the type of crop and growth stage of the harvest.

A severe hailstorm can destroy an entire harvest in a few minutes. It can totally destroy a farmer’s livelihood, especially when the farmer focuses on one type of crop that only grows at one time of the year. Crop insurance ensures the sustainability of the farmer and provides food and job security for the people working on the farm.

The biggest challenge for farmers is to keep updated with changes in climatic conditions and to continually monitor risks based on weather trends, so their assets are as well looked after as possible and comprehensively covered.

What to do
When you receive notification of a potential hailstorm your priority should be to keep yourself and your family safe. Next, you should attempt to protect your vehicles, buildings and other assets. Unplug all electronic devices before the storm begins and move all outside equipment and furniture under cover.

Avoid driving during a hailstorm. If you do get caught on the road immediately look for cover. Do not park under trees, as you’ll be exposed to the additional risk of a falling branch or other debris. Damage to cars is probably the most common hail related claim.

Buildings are also very vulnerable to hail damage with potential damage to roofs, skylights, sliding doors, windows and outside equipment and furniture. At home, ensure your gutters are always clear of blockages.

If you live in a high-risk area be sure to check your domestic and commercial insurance policies for cover caused by hail damage - as this is not automatically included.

Talk to your local Garrun broker to arrange a risk assessment and get further advice.