South Africa’s solar panel insurance dilemma

As solar panel technology continues to advance at lightning speed, an unexpected challenge is slowly arising: Compatibility issues when a replacement panel is needed.

Replacement solar panels need to be compatible with the rest of the system, and sourcing the right panels can be challenging. What happens when a panel breaks or is stolen and there is no suitable replacement? Will your insurer pay for the entire system to be replaced? Read on as RBS explains.

Solar energy adoption in South Africa

One of the key drivers for the adoption of solar energy in South Africa is the frequent occurrence of load shedding. Load shedding is when the power utility company, Eskom, deliberately shuts down parts of the electricity grid to avoid a total blackout. This has resulted in frequent power outages and has negatively affected many households and businesses. By installing solar panels, South Africans can generate their own electricity, reducing their reliance on the grid and minimizing the effects of load shedding.

Solar panels are flying off the shelves of South African suppliers. This is understandable, considering that load shedding has no end in sight. Not only has the high demand created somewhat of a shortage of solar panels in South Africa, but solar panels are advancing at such a fast pace that finding a suitable replacement panel is often challenging if one is damaged or stolen.

What happens if a solar panel is damaged or stolen?

The loss of one panel significantly affects the performance of a solar installation and it is vital to replace the panel as soon as possible. 

Unfortunately, because solar panel producers release new models every few months, the solar panel models that are being imported are constantly changing and it’s not possible to just mix and match different panels.

For people that have a faulty panel or stolen panel one or two years down the line may not be able to find a suitable replacement. This means the whole system will need to be replaced.

Will insurers pay for a new system if a suitable replacement panel can’t be sourced?

The general consensus among South African insurers is: Yes, an insurer should replace all panels in the system if it can’t find a suitable replacement. However, whether or not each insurer will pay is dependable on them. 

If a solar panel is damaged or stolen and an insurance claim is valid, but a particular panel is no longer available, the insurer should replace all the panels in the system to ensure that the system operates as it did before the loss. 

In the same way, if an old-model TV is the subject of a claim, but the manufacturer has discontinued the specific model, an insurer will replace it with a newer model to ensure the customer receives an equivalent or better replacement.

It’s important to keep the insured amount for your Home Insurance updated. If you’ve recently invested in a new solar system, be sure to let your insurer know to ensure you’re adequately covered. To get an updated risk assessment, get in touch with your private RBS broker.

About RBS

Risk Benefit Solutions, better known as RBS, originated as an entrepreneurial-focused services business in 1998 and today is one of the largest fully-fledged black owned insurance brokers in South Africa and a Level One BBBEE contributor. RBS’s growth has contributed to offering clients a unique approach to risk management by positioning our skilled resources as an extension of our client’s risk management team. The company covers a broad spectrum of services, including Insurance Broking, Risk Management, Commercial and Corporate Risk Advisors, Employee Benefit Consulting, Health Insurance, Wealth Management, Asset Management and Corporate Vehicle Hire Services.