Enticed by attractive government incentives and the promise of lower energy bills and a greener environment, more and more Australians are looking into solar power
to supplement their household energy supply. One question homeowners often have is whether or not their solar panels are insured under their normal household insurance. This guide to solar panel insurance will help you learn everything you need to know about making sure your investment in solar panels will be fully insured.
Are Solar Panels Covered by My Normal Home Contents Insurance?
Many homeowners believe that solar panels are covered by home contents insurance, but this is not the case. However, this does not mean they are not insured. Because solar panels are fixed to the home, insurance companies consider them to be part of the structure of the home and not part of its contents. However, you will want to contact your insurer and have their representative revalue your home. You may find that you will have to pay a slightly higher premium, but this will ensure that should your house be entirely destroyed, you will recover its entire value.
Because solar panels are not insured separately, their parts may not be covered by your home insurance. Surprisingly, solar panels are rarely significantly damaged by hail, but they can be damaged by other extreme weather conditions such as high winds and electrical storms, which may make them overheat. While this will not cause a fire, it can damage or destroy components of the system, such as an inverter if you have one. Your only protections from this kind of damage are your product warranty and guarantee. These are so important, you need to look into them very carefully before you purchase your solar panels and have them installed. These are some of the things to look for and ask about:
- Your money back guarantee should last for between five and ten years.
- You should get a performance warranty of up to 25 years.
- Parts of the system, such as the panels and other working parts, should come with five to ten year warranties.
- Workmanship and labour should come with five to ten year warranties.
Remember, too, that should the company that sells you your solar panels sell their business or go out of business, they will not be required by law to honour your warranty. If they subcontract to outside installers, be sure that your warranty includes any work performed by the installers. Also, get written statements from your supplier and installers regarding anything they tell you about the system's stated performance, warranties and guarantees. You will need this documentation should you ever have to make an insurance or warranty claim.
What to Look for in Your Contract
As with any major home improvement, you need to enter into a contract with the supplier and installer of solar panels. For insurance and warranty purposes, these are some of the main things to look for in your written contract:
- Full product and labour specifications, including components, transport requirements and any other details that may affect the total price of the solar panels.
- Estimates of daily electrical output, annual power production and production divided into best and worst months.
- Notification of who is responsible for connecting your solar system to the power grid.
- Notification of responsibility for meter changeover (solar panels require "smart" meters).
- A detailed explanation of how you will receive any Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and/or solar credits.
A detailed contract is important not only to ensure that your warranties are honoured, but in order to ensure that should you have to make an insurance claim, you will get a "like for like" replacement system.
The most important thing of all is to make sure that the designer of your system and its installer are both accredited. Accreditation is received from the Australian Clean Energy Council (CEC) and is your guarantee the the materials and workmanship that have gone into your solar panels and system are of an acceptable standard. In the end, this is the best solar panel insurance you can get and your assurance that you are making the most of the solar power
that is made available to you.