Insurance Case Study: Sydney School’s Hail Rampage

May 25, 2023

WINAICO Insurance Protects Sydney School From Hail Rampage

Complimentary Insurance on All WINAICO Products

WINAICO’s exclusive insurance policy is one of a kind in Australia. All systems sold domestically are eligible for the complimentary protection policy and the program is not offered by any other domestic solar option.

Solar Warranties are a guarantee on the manufacturing process of the solar industry. The Product and Performance Warranties ensure a design that is suitable for long term exposure in “normal” conditions. But as the environment is becoming more and more unpredictable, many rare events are becoming more common. Warranty WILL NOT cover you for these damages:

  • Environmental Damage (Hail, Typhoon, High Wind Events, Lightning, Snow, Frost, Floods)
  • Fire Damage (Explosions, heat damage from fires, smouldering, scorching)
  • Human Damage (Robbery, Burglary, Sabotage, Vandalism)
  • Animal Damage (Cable Bites, Nesting)

However, all of those issues and more can be claimed back under the solar system insurance. The policy is provided complimentary with any WINAICO module and one of the three policies that provide the greatest range of protection for a solar system in Australia. Not only will the insurance remedy the issue, but the lost income from the interruption will be reimbursed to the end customer assuring no economic loss if the policy needs to be activated.

Case Study: Sydney School Devastated by Hail

Formally known as the “North Sydney Hailstorm”, rare weather events caused massive damage with over 2700 calls for assistance. Over 1000 of those requests were scattered hail that was recorded up to 9 centimetres in diameter. For comparison, the IEC standard which is the regulation test for solar panels in Australia will only test 25 mm or less than a third of the hail that fell during this storm.

The hailstorm resulted in $328 Million dollars in damages to homes, cars, buildings and infrastructure. Only 3 people were injured by the event but 50 000 insurance policy claims were made following the days after the storm had receded.

A catholic school in North Sydney was among one of several locations that were adversely affected by the weather event. The roof was covered by over 70 kWs or 300 solar modules that were installed in mid 2016.  The installation completed by one of our Trusted Partners, MG Consulting, and was operating normally within the first year of the systems technical lifespan.

The Hub NRMA

The IEC Standard is the required certification for a solar module to be installed on an Australian rooftop. It is the minimum test used to remove low quality solar modules from the local market and ensure a standard that suits our local environmental conditions. WINAICO is proud of its advanced testing, which stimulates rare conditions to ensure longevity for our modules. Our current standard of Hail testing is using a 35 mm Iceball at 100 km/hr which is over 4 times the impact energy as the IEC standard testing parameters.

The hailstones measured up to 90 mms in diameter from this particular storm. If we assumed the same velocity as the IEC test, we estimate the hailstones had 46 times the energy of the current regulation impact force for Australian solar modules. The kinetic energy is over 90 Joules which is half the stopping power of a 22 Caliber rifle. The hail being within the same magnitude of impact as a hunting rifle clearly reflects the devasting force this storm delivered in 2017 and why no solar module could withstand this level of punishment.

The site was inspected by the installation team, which provided the following images of the array after the hail storm. Note that the force of some hailstones penetrated through the front glass and onto the covered roof underneath.

Complete Insurance Protection

Commercial sites are better suited for solar than residential installations. The hours of business correlate better with the hours of PV generation which will encourage larger and more expensive systems to be installed.  Commercial sites are dependant on having the system operate efficiently for the first 5-7 years in order to recoup the initial capital investment.

A system break such as the North Sydney Catholic school scenario depicted above could have been devastating. As this was not an issue of manufacturing, it cannot be claimed under usual solar panel warranty terms. Weather events such as storms, hail or fire are not covered under any manufacturing guarantee from solar manufacturers here in Australia.

MG Consulting made the smart decision to use WINAICO modules for the installation. All our modules that are sold in Australia come with complimentary insurance that is backed by Willis Towers Watson. The registration of the system shortly after the installation in 2016 generated complete coverage from any damages until mid-2018.

Shortly after the insurance claim was submitted, approval was given to completely replace the system and another 292 modules were shipped to site for installation. MG consulting removed the previous panels, sent them to a PV recycling business and installed the new system at no cost to the school. The insurance policy provided additional solar material and covered the labour costs for the replacement work.

This school serves as a real-life example of WINAICO’s customer’s satisfaction. As a recipient of the EuPD Top PV Brand for the last three years (2018, 2019 and 2020) we always aim to serve our trusted partners and end-customers with the level of care that they deserve. The complimentary insurance policy is the embodiment of that belief, guaranteeing performance free of charge for the first two years with an option to extend to five upon request.

Solar Panels and School Performance

Schools are ideal locations for solar. Large open roofspaces provide a great area for modules to be emplaced and usually well clear of shading from trees. More importantly, the school hours of operation mean that most of the electricity generated by the solar is used on-site, reducing excess export into the grid.

Our Lady of the Angels school has been a pristine example of solar on schools. After the re-deployment of solar panels for free under the complimentary insurance policy, the school has seen a drop in energy usage from the grid and a similar drop in the electricity bills. Several thousands of dollars have been saved which goes right back into benefiting the school community and enriching the educational resources available.

With the benefit of the complimentary WINAICO Insurance policy, Our Lady of the Angels has been able to get back into saving money, helping the environment and building a stronger community.

Solar School Powering Forward With WINAICO


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