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Body corporates and your solar panels: don’t find yourself uninsured

Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana’s announcement regarding the launch of the National Treasury’s rebate scheme for new rooftop solar installations on private homes from 1 March 2023, has further increased the demand for renewable energy solutions by homeowners and in particular that of solar panel installations.

“There is however currently confusion and uncertainty amongst some body corporates and homeowner’s associations (HOA’s) when it comes to insuring solar installations. Some are not aware or have not been advised that they are able to cover solar panels under their existing building insurance policies. There are various cover options available and unless specified, the cost implications are minimal,” explains Hermanus van der Linde, CEO – IntegriSure Brokers.

For body corporates and HOA’s some of the options in the market are to insure a typical rooftop solar system or fixed generator by increasing the building sum insured with the replacement value of the system, which can be added to the Participation Quota (PQ). “The system will be covered in full for typical building risks such as fire, hail, impact and accidental damage.”

Other cover options include increasing the power-surge and/or exterior theft first loss limit to ensure that they are covered for all losses up to the chosen amount on a first loss basis. Another option that has been seen in the market is to add the solar system as a specified item with an additional premium payable which includes full building cover without limitations on theft and power-surge. “In this instance, the system should be specified at full replacement value.”

Those who live in residential estates or complexes need to obtain approval from body corporates or homeowners’ associations when looking to install solar. “As this is a new subject matter to deal with, combined with the current reality of unprecedented load shedding, it is very important to add this insurance matter to the agenda at upcoming AGM’s for members to understand the cover they will enjoy for solar panels, what it excludes and if there are any limitations.”

But, what are your options if your body corporate or HOA does not want to increase the sum insured of your building? “We are currently seeing reluctance from some body corporates and HOA’s to add installed solar panels to their building insurance, even though owners should insist that building sums insured be increased.”

If there is still resistance, residents and owners living in estates or complexes will need to take out cover for their solar panels on their personal policies. “We have seen various cover options in the market ranging from adding these solar panels to contents cover, to specifying it as an all risk item.”

Van der Linde cautions consumers as well as body corporates and HOA’s to ensure that solar systems are installed by a qualified, accredited installer who is able to issue a certificate of compliance as insurance companies and manufacturers may reject claims if the system is not installed by an accredited installer. “Reputable installers should have liability cover, product liability and cover against defective workmanship. When contacting solar installers ask to see their proof of liability cover.”

“We will continue to keep a close eye on the market for further trends and developments on this front and remain committed to providing comprehensive advice on the best insurance solutions for solar panels.”

“If you plan on investing in renewable energy installations ensure that you are adequately insured by talking to your broker for the best product options for peace of mind should something go wrong,” concludes van der Linde.