What to know before installing a solar power system

South Africans looking to mitigate the impact of load-shedding by installing a solar system for their home must do so through an accredited installer or electrician to avoid insurance claim issues if something goes wrong.

This is according to King Price client experience partner Wynand van Vuuren, who said the onus is on homeowners to ensure that their installation is 100% correct.

“We’ve seen solar panels up in flames. We’ve seen lithium batteries up in flames, but also generators which were incorrectly installed,” he said during an interview with CapeTalk.

“People must be very careful. Go and read. Talk to people, talk to customers of the specific company that you might want to make use of.”

“The onus is on you as an insured person to make sure that the installation is 100% correct,” Van Vuuren added.

He explained that a certificate of compliance (CoC) is essential for building and household content insurance.

“If that electrician then comes to your property or to your business, make sure that you first find out that they’re accredited to do that work and that, at the end of the day, they will be able to give you the certificate of compliance,” he said.

“Most of the insurance policies out there will say that they aren’t liable for defective workmanship. They are not going to be liable if your roof falls in if it wasn’t properly built.”

“It is the same with these systems. You need to make sure that it is properly installed and that an irresponsible installation problem will not result in your house burning down or other damages coming through,” Van Vuuren added.

Reading your insurance policy to ensure it covers damage caused by power surges and fires is equally important.

He explained that once a homeowner has taken the correct route and received a certificate of compliance (CoC), it is alright to switch the system on.

“If anything then happens, your insurer must stand by you. You’ve got your building policy, your house contents policy. Those must include power surge damage. That must include fire damage,” Van Vuuren said.

“If there is then a loss, you’ve done everything on your part to make sure that the installation is correct, then your insurer will repair your house and pay for your new contents,”

“They will take it on with the company that has made the mistakes,” he added.

Head of Auto & General Insurance Ricardo Coetzee, in a statement, explained that solar panels and some generators are fixed to the property, meaning they do not need to be specified separately.

However, he noted that insurance companies must be informed of the value of such a system to adjust the policy accordingly.

Head of Auto & General Insurance Ricardo Coetzee. Source: FANews YouTube

“Homeowners do however need to inform us and adjust their total sum insured accordingly,” he said.

Coetzee noted that Auto & General Insurance had seen a spike in load-shedding-related burglaries.

“When the lights go out, so do the alarm systems, gate motors and electric fencing making it easier for criminals to gain access to your property and spend longer in it,” he said.

“Most insurance policies stipulate in their contracts that the house alarm must be activated at all times when the home is unoccupied.”

“So, if your house is burgled during a power cut, then, theoretically, your theft-related cover would be moot,” Coetzee added.

However, he noted that some insurers — like Auto & General — believe that load-shedding is beyond the control of their customers and they should not be penalised for it if they took all reasonable precautions.

“As such, each case will be considered based on its own merits,” Coetzee added.

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What to know before installing a solar power system