Back in 2008, when a random and entirely unexpected tornado came rushing through Durban’s upper highway area, people were left completely bewildered by the ferocity of the storm.

To be sure, tornados are nothing new. We watch the news with a mix of awe and shock while central American homes are flicked into the air and entire suburbs are ravaged.

The point here is this: Most of us in sunny South Africa are not used to such violent and extreme weather conditions. Yes, we have our fair share of storms, some flooding…and mostly extreme heat, but are we prepared when they hit us personally and do damage?

This brings us to the often-uncomfortable topic of building insurance.

Who needs building insurance?

Can’t we rather spend our hard-earned money elsewhere?

Well, of course you can. But before you head down to Incredible Connection for the latest smart television consider what building insurance covers. Are these likely to create a headache for you down the line?

(And of course, by “headache” we mean: will you be left sleeping in a wet, smoky, or non-existent home?)

To start at the beginning, it’s safe to say that if you own a house then you need building insurance.

You may never in your life have to deal with tornados, earthquakes, flash floods or explosions. But what are the chances that your geyser will burst and soak your ceiling, your new carpets and your built-in kitchen cupboards? Is there a chance of power surges knocking out your electrical equipment, your gate motor or the electrical units in your house? Will your house ever be vandalised by angry protestors or questionable tenants? Is there a chance that the beautiful trees that surround your home can drop a one-tonne branch or two onto your roof?

As with all things related to insurance, the question should always be: can I afford to fix or replace these myself? And additionally, can I afford temporary accommodation for myself and my family if my gas oven explodes and my home is uninhabitable?

Commercial property owners fully understand the value of protecting their assets and will have a firm building insurance policy in place to care for unexpected problems. Residential property owners should have these too.

Malcolm Osmond of CC&A Insurance Brokers says, “It’s a good idea to periodically check what your policy covers and what your claims process is. Does your building insurance cover your garage? Does it cover external walls and fencing? Are you paying too much – or too little – for your personal needs? Do you understand the fine print?”

While the likelihood of your home being swept away in another freak tornado may be remote, there are other factors which could come as an unpleasant surprise without the proper short term policy in place.

This article should not be considered legal or financial advice and is for information purposes only. You should consult with a professional financial advisor to determine what may be best for your individual needs.

Malcolm Osmond, CC&A Insurance Brokers (Pty) Ltd
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