If you’re in a position to buy your house free and clear, then home insurance becomes a choice. Since insurance is fairly inexpensive in South Africa, the risk of not insuring vastly outweighs any money you might save, making this a clear choice if you’re looking for the sensible option.
If you purchase a home with a mortgage loan, the property typically acts as security for the loan. As such, insurance is required in order to protect your lender’s interest in the property. Should you refuse to pay your home insurance, the mortgage company will pay it anyway, and debit all charges from your mortgage account, resulting in more long term cost to you.
Note that mortgage loans only require you to have insurance on your house, and not the contents of your home. Nonetheless, most insurance companies offer relatively attractive, comprehensive homeowner’s insurance packages making this, again, a risk not worth the savings.
Below are a few popular local insurers:
- OUTsurance: This company is known for the extensive rewards it offers its clients for NOT claiming. Visit http://www.outsurance.co.za/ or call the sales line on 0860 0600 00.
- Dial Direct: This company’s marketing strategy is oriented around having excellent customer service and providing fast, accurate quotes online or over the phone. See for yourself if they live up to the hype. Visit http://www.dialdirect.co.za/ or call 0860 4244 24.
- Mutual & Federal: This company provides excellent short term insurance deals. Visit http://www.mf.co.za or call 0860 2255 63.
- First for Women: http://www.firstforwomen.co.za or call 0860 1035 51.
There are numerous water companies and boards that serve different areas, bonded together under the South African Water Association. For more information, visit http://www.saawu.co.za/ or call the general inquiries line on 011 455 0591 or 011 455 0176.
Water bills are typically sent to the owner of any home, so if you’re renting a house or other freestanding residence, you will probably have the bills sent to you by the owner at the end of every month.
In the case of apartments or duplexes, water is often communal, and as such water charges are a flat rate included in the levies (often no more than R200 or R300 per month).
ESKOM (the acronym is a combination of the English and Afrikaans abbreviations for the Electricity Supply Commission) is the only electricity company in South Afrca, and until recently was the main provider to the entire southern African region, including Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It’s come under massive public scrutiny in recent years for its failure to keep up with electricity demands in the country, despite company experts predicting the destabilization of ESKOM’s grid as early as 1998. In 2007, the shortfall grew to the point that ESKOM had to institute rolling blackouts for several months.
In spite of extensive public protest, ESKOM’s move to raise tarrifs in 2009 was approved. The 34 percent increase has brought about growing interest in economical use of power and the minimization of electricity consumption in the country.
Homeowner packages start at around R30.04 per kilowatt hour, added to a daily network charge of R1.08 and a service charge of R1.42. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the general inquiries board on 011 800 8111. You can also SMS any queries to 082 941 3707.
Most homes in Cape Town now run off computerized electricity meters. Each meter has a unique code, which should be provided to you by the owner or previous owner of your abode along with your identifying E-kard. You can use this card to purchase pre-paid electricity vouchers at gas stations, convenience stores and supermarkets. To top up your meter, all you’ll need to do is enter the 16-digit code provided on your voucher.
For homes that don’t have meters installed, the only option is to pay via debit order, in which case your payments will be automatically deducted from your account on an agreed-upon date each month.
This option may also be attractive to meter users who want to keep track of their spending, as limit controls can be placed on the payments. Should you exhaust your budget, you’ll still be able top up using prepaid vouchers.
To set up your debit order, call the ESKOM call centre on 08600 37 566.
For a more thorough rundown of the various payment options, visit http://www.eskom.co.za/live/content.php?Category_ID=232.
Gas isn’t piped in Cape Town, but you can purchase gas canisters and refills from independent retailers. Total Refinery is the largest supplier in the Western Cape. To find your nearest depot, visit http://www.totalgaz.co.za/Os/osgazsouthernafrica.nsf/VS_OPM/381611CDDC6C29DAC1256F950047F6B9?OpenDocument
Cape Town’s central branch is located at 97 Auckland Street, Paarden Eiland. They’re currently charging R141.08 to refill a 9kg gas tank. Obviously, the period of time this lasts will depend on whether you’re using a heater, stove or artificial fireplace, as well as on the make of your appliances and the frequency of use.
SAPO (the South African Post Office) does not require you to register your details in order to receive mail. The only requirement is that you possess a publicly accessible, clearly visible postbox with a clearly marked apartment or house number on it. Certain packages may be too large for delivery, in which case you’ll receive a notification slip from the post office asking you to collect.
To track registered mail, visit http://www.epostal.co.za and register your details with SAPO. You’ll then be able to monitor the progress of your mail online.
To find your nearest SAPO branch, visit http://www.sapo.co.za/CustomerSupport.aspx?ID=4, or call 0860 086 860.
SAPO open hours vary depending on the branch’s location: Some open at 07:30, others at 08:30, just as closing hours vary between 16:00 and 17:00. Contact your nearest branch to find out.
When it comes to local shipping, CTC Worldwide logistics is the import and export company of choice. Visit http://www.ctcworldwide.co.za or call 021 419 9330. Their offices are situated at number 303 in the MSK Building, corner of Buitengracht and Riebeek streets, in the CBD.