Harris Marley
Harris Marley

Global Courant
Picture: Daily Maverick

With load-shedding now a daily occurrence in South Africa, increasingly more consumers and businesses are exploring the option of alternative power solutions. Auto & General Insurance cautions that this spells opportunity for criminals to pounce and cash in on these high value systems. 

“Solar panel theft is an emerging trend – one that we are keeping a close eye on,” says Ricardo Coetzee, Head of Auto & General. “When it comes to insurance, homeowners should keep in mind that solar panels, and some generators, are fixed to the property and therefore, covered under a buildings insurance policy.  They do not need to be specified separately.  Homeowners do however need to inform their insurers and adjust their total sum insured accordingly. If a device is not fixed – like an inverter or UPS for example, it would be insured under home contents cover.  These devices do not need to be specified but the overall total sum insured should be reviewed to ensure it is sufficient to cover the replacement of the items.”

Auto & General Insurance offers the following advice to protect your solar installation:

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Use a reputable installer who knows the risks involved with solar panel crime and how to mitigate them. Have solar panels installed on the roof, out of reach, making them less conspicuous and more difficult to steal. Eliminate things that make it easier for criminals to access panels, like untrimmed tree branches, rubbish bins and garden tools left outside etc. Ask a professional to install solar panel locks, which make it more challenging to remove these panels. Lock panels together where possible. Upgrade your home security: it’s wise to have various security measures such as gates with good quality locks, an electric fence, an alarm system with sensors, security spikes around access paths to your solar panels, an armed response service, movement detection security lights, CCTV, intercom, panic buttons and good access control – in place. Use all of the security measures at your disposal, all of the time.  Have visible security signage in place to serve as a deterrent. Alert your neighbours and security company when you’ll be away for an extended period of time, asking them to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity around your home. Ask the solar panel installer about marking your panels with unique identifiers that are difficult to remove to make sure that they are easily identifiable as yours.

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