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In a world where technology is constantly improving, the amount of electronics being produced and sold nowadays is astronomical. Most of us have moved away from just using our phones to make calls – these very powerful devices can, at the touch of the button, connect you to the “internet of things” – for most people, they can’t imagine their life without them and the need for these electronic tools to be fully functional at all times is obvious. In order to keep them functional, we perform routine and regular maintenance like charging the device. The simple act of charging a device, believe it or not, comes with risks.

How often have you bought a generic charger or generic wires to charge your precious phone or device? Reasons for opting for a generic product often include the high price of the original product or the unavailability of the manufacturer’s accessory. However, some of these generic products are of a low quality, resulting in fraying, poor performance, malfunctioning etc., leaving you in a position where you have to replace them frequently. These are some of the milder consequences. Some of the more severe and catastrophic consequences are:

• Battery malfunction, as generic chargers provide a generic charge – Different devices require different levels of charge. These generic chargers can potentially transfer too much power or too little power into your device, which usually causes the battery to overheat or malfunction. Now you are in the frustrating position where the device, that has all of your important information and memories, may be damaged by the charge and consequently, may need to be replaced.

• Overheating of the chargers – These chargers may have a lack of insulation, due to being made of sub-standard components, so you run the risk of both your device and the charger overheating. Overheating can cause damage to circuit components, explosion, fire or injury.

• Increased fire risk – Electrical risks, like overheating, overcharging etc. are a common reason for buildings and their contents to be totally destroyed by fire. Even worse, these fires can spread and decimate surrounding property.

In a reference to the topic on hand, find the link to Wendy Rhodes’ article below, who warns the reader of the possible dangers generic phone chargers pose after her dad experienced a catastrophe, by recounting their horrific fire experience online

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What about your Insurance policy?

First off, it is important to always ensure that your policy covers all your assets as comprehensively as possible, including the risk of fire. Most asset insurance policies worth their salt will cover this and many other sudden and unforeseen risks – it is essential that you check your policy coverage and sums insured regularly. AIB Cape is always ready and available to answer any questions you may have in this regard.

Insurance policies also impose a positive duty on you, to act as if you don’t have an insurance policy (protecting your assets). Insurers usually call this reasonable care or a duty of care. So, for example, if you see you that the wires of your cell phone charging cord are smoking, you would need to take reasonable care to avoid loss which is foreseeable, by replacing the cord immediately, as continued use would probably result in an uninsured fire or injury to yourself or others.

In any event, “prevention is better than cure” – no one wants their house and belongings destroyed by fire. Insurance claims of this nature are stressful, apart from the trauma of losing valuable assets, some of which are irreplaceable (think of photo’s, family heirlooms and computers if they are not backed up etc.)

General charging safety tips (taken from the referenced “Reshareworthy” article):

• Only buy and use approved chargers for your electronic devices
• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions with regards to charging times, including all other instructions and contact them directly if in doubt
• Be careful not to overload any power bars or outlets. One plug in each socket is best.
• Avoid leaving devices to charge unattended
• Don’t leave devices charging near flammable materials or objects
• Ensure good air circulation around devices at all times
• Inspect your charging devices and wires regularly for overheating, wire fraying etc.
• Check for hot plugs or plugs with dark marks. If you find any, take the plugs out of the socket and get them looked at by an electrician

One final takeaway: small things can become big things, when seemingly insignificant risks are not taken seriously and dealt with.

As always, AIB Cape remains at your service.

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October 30, 2019

Posted In: Newsletters

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