Monday night’s violent hail storm has caused significant damage to cars and infrastructure, with a leading insurer reporting vehicle damage and solar panels being among the leading items damaged.
Although the extent of the damage was still being collated, early indications from insurer Dialdirect Insurance show that damage to vehicles was the leading claimed incident, followed by claims to solar heating tubes and solar panels.
DialDirect spokesperson Martin van Wyk said they had received “a large number of claims” after the storm.
“While it is too soon to confirm the exact number, so far, the majority of claims received have been motor-related.
“Customers have, however, also been reporting damage to solar water heating tubes, solar electricity panels, skylights, roof tiles, windows, and geyser panels,” he said.
Another insurer, Auto & General, has urged residents to be vigilant in protecting themselves and their assets during hail season, both at home and on the road.
Ricardo Coetzee, Head of Auto & General Insurance, said people should ensure they were sufficiently covered in the event of hail storms.
“Although vehicles are usually the hardest hit, major hail storms also result in damage to roofs, windows, sliding doors, skylights, gardens, and outdoor equipment. Make sure that both your vehicle, homeowners, and home contents insurance adequately cover you against damage to property caused by hail,” he said.
The summer months in South Africa usually come with sunshine, but also inclement weather such as floods and hail storms.
Coetzee said it was best to stay put ahead of an imminent hail storm, as visibility was poor and driving conditions were poor during these storms, and extensive damage could be caused to the car.
Tips while driving
Don’t park under trees, as there is a risk of falling branches and debris.
If you are on the road and get caught in a hailstorm, look for cover. This could include a covered car park or a petrol station. Take extreme care when pulling over, put on your hazard lights, and don’t risk your safety or the safety of others by dashing madly for cover. Stay in your car and only leave the safety of your sheltered spot when the storm has passed.
Remember that, with the sudden drop in temperature during a hailstorm, your car’s windows will be more prone to fogging up, hampering visibility, so make sure that your car’s defogger is working properly.
At home, they said gutters should be kept clean and free of debris to channel ice and water away from the roof, while any outdoor equipment and furniture should be moved undercover and roof structures should be checked to ensure that they won’t buckle under the weight of the hail in the event of a blocked drainage system.
Clearing debris from gutters is essential and will limit damage and discomfort in times of disaster.
Turn off gas and electricity if flooding occurs.
Motorists should not attempt to drive in flood conditions. Remember that just 15cm of moving water can knock you off your feet, and water just 60cm deep can sweep a vehicle away. If the water is deeper than the bottom of your doors or the bottom third of your wheels, it is not advisable to drive through it.
Flash flooding often occurs when rivers flow over low-lying bridges. Avoid crossing bridges or roads next to rivers during heavy rains. If you do get stuck on a flooded road, it’s best to switch to the lowest possible gear and proceed slowly. If you approach a flooding storm water drain at high speed, it is advisable to take your foot off the accelerator and let your speed drop gradually. Never use the brakes suddenly, because this may cause the car to skid or aquaplane.
If trapped in a vehicle during flooding, abandon the vehicle and climb to higher ground. It is dangerous to try and drive out of the water to safety.