You may have already seen your neighbours’ lights on during loadshedding and wondered how you can set up your home in the same way. Or perhaps you’ve already decided to splurge on a solar panel system but aren’t sure how your insurance company will feel about it? We’ve got answers for you.
We get plenty of stunning sunshine in South Africa, so why not use it to help keep your lights on and cut down on your electricity bills? However, with adding this feature to your home comes laws and guidelines to follow. And you want to make sure that should something go wrong, your home insurance covers any disasters.
Read on for a guide on solar insurance in South Africa. We’ll cover plenty of questions, including adding solar panels to your home, how insurance works for solar, and other vital info you need before you take this next step.
Adding Solar Panels to Your Home in SA
With the country’s current loadshedding schedules combined with unreliable power due to maintenance and natural disasters, many people are making the move to solar. It’s not cheap, but if it’s done by a reputable company — like Sun2Solar — this addition can add value to your home.
This allows homeowners to harness electricity from the sun while still being able to take advantage of grid electricity.
Solar vs. Inverters
While backup power inverters and even generators are great, solar adds so much more power to your home. Plus, you need Eskom’s electricity to charge inverters and backup batteries, while you just need good old sunshine to keep your solar power running.
Do You Need Solar Panel Insurance?
Solar energy is not cheap. Adding this alternative power system to your home can cost anything from R100,000 and up. Most average around R140,000 to R250,000, depending on how much power you’d like to have and how big your house is.
But these systems are also outside on your roof, exposed to the elements and not quite hidden from criminals. If you had to experience theft of your panels, a fire in or on your home, or damage from a storm, it would be potentially devastating to have to fix and/or replace them.
So yes, if you’re looking at adding solar to your home, you need insurance.
Read more: Benefits of Insurance in South Africa
Solar Insurance in South Africa: What to Know
As with any kind of insurance, the more you know, the more empowered decisions you can make. It may not be a highlight kind of conversation you want to have, but being aware of your insurance needs and options can set you up for a worry-free life.
How Much Does it Cost to Insure a Solar System in Your Home?
This will depend on who your home insurance company is, but you can expect to pay anything from R10 per R100,000 sum insured per month. So, if your solar energy system is worth R300,000, you’d pay R30+ per month on top of your initial insurance policy.
Do I Need to Inform Insurance of Solar Panels?
Many insurance companies offer comprehensive building insurance, which covers all permanent fixtures on your property. This covers your building (as well as things like covered patios, solar panels, etc.) for damage, fire, and often even theft.
While you can simply insure your solar panels under your building insurance, it’s important to make sure that they are listed within your policy. You also need to give your insurance provider the cost of replacing your solar system, as that will affect the new price of your premiums.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Systems?
This would depend on the insurance company you are with and their policy terms and conditions. For the most part, you can add solar energy panels to your building insurance, but some companies may offer cover for your solar system independently.
If you don’t yet have building insurance but are planning to have solar in your new home, it’s best to get a few quotes and compare offers before you sign with any specific company.
Does Insurance Cover Inverters?
On a related side note, do you need to separately cover your inverter? Inverters are removable objects in your home, so these wouldn’t fall under building insurance. However, you can add these to your Home Content insurance – right there with fridges, TVs, etc.
Insurance for Solar Panels in Sectional Title Complexes
If you’re buying a home that’s in a complex or block of flats, your building insurance might already be covered by your body corporate or home insurance. If you don’t already have solar installed in the house, then you’d need to discuss with the Homeowners Association (HOA) about adding this to the complex insurance. The extra cost would likely be added to your levy.
Sometimes, the body corporate/HOA will not cover individual solar panels, in which case you’d need to chat with your insurance broker and have this added to your own insurance policy. Just be sure that you’re aware of how your building/complex works before you move forward.
Can Renters Insure Solar Panels?
If you’re renting your home and have discussed with the landlord about adding solar to the house, you’ll also need to arrange for them to organise insurance. They would need to add it under their building insurance and adjust their premiums.
Are Solar Panels Insured Under Buildings Insurance in South Africa?
If you have business insurance that covers the building you run your business in, you can add any permanent solar fixture to this coverage. It will be similar to adding them to home insurance.
Insuring for Cash Value vs. Replacement
Something important to discuss with your insurance broker before you go ahead is whether they cover your solar panels for their cash value (what you bought it for) or replacement value (what it would cost to replace it).
Sometimes, this is the same amount, but maybe you got the system on a Black Friday special and can never get it that cheap again. In that case, Cash Value Cover would leave you short enough money to replace your system.
Note: This will affect your premium price – the more your insurance value is, the higher your premiums will be.
Things to Do to Keep Your Solar Panels Valid & Insured
Insurance companies will require that you ensure your solar panels are well looked after and properly installed. In order to cover them and payout in case of damage or disaster, it’s best to:
- Have your solar system professionally installed and follow local building codes and regulations. Proper installation can impact your ability to obtain coverage and influence the cost of insurance.
- Insurers often expect homeowners to perform regular maintenance on their property, including the solar system. Neglect or failure to maintain the system adequately could impact your coverage.
- Keep your insurance provider informed about any changes or upgrades to your solar system to ensure it remains adequately covered.
Summary of Solar & Insurance in SA
If you already have solar panels on your home, it’s time to make sure they’re insured! If you’re still in the process of adding these to your home, be sure to involve your insurance people in the process.
Installing a solar energy system in any building is well worth the cost and effort in 2023/24. With loadshedding, natural disasters, and general electricity maintenance, having reliable backup power is priceless.
Make sure you’re doing it right, and you’ll always have a reason to smile under those shining lights.