Leaks, floods, burst pipes – what can you claim from your insurance policy?
WINTER brings its own set of problems for homeowners.
If you live in the Western Cape there’s the risk of leaks and floods. The colder temperatures countrywide can lead to fire damage from gas heaters or woodburning fireplaces. And, of course, there’s the yearlong risk of geysers that can burst and ruin ceilings and floors.
Let’s see what damage you can claim for.
Cover for your house and household contents against water damage due to flooding is usually standard on policies.
The roof is covered under the homeowner’s insurance, and furniture is covered by household contents insurance.
So if your homeowners’ insurance is at a different insurer than your household contents policy, you’ll have to submit a claim to each accordingly.
Unfortunately, these claims are sometimes denied. The main reason is poor maintenance by you, the homeowner.
A general requirement is that policyholders must take reasonable steps to prevent or mitigate loss or damage.
Loose roof tiles and any leaks must be repaired. Gutters must be kept clean and broken gutters must be fixed or replaced.
If you maintain your home in a condition to withstand normal weather conditions but you suffer flood damage, your claim should be successful.
Winter weather commonly causes pipes to burst, and geysers can also suffer damage. Damage to your geyser, pipes and possibly resultant damage to your ceilings should be covered under your building insurance. Water damage to your furniture and appliances as a result of a burst geyser or water pipe is covered under household contents. When temperatures drop, floor and wall tiles might lift or crack. But if this happens due to shoddy workmanship – if the tiles weren’t properly laid, for example – the claim might be denied.
Loss or damage because of fire is usually standard cover on the homeowner’s and household contents policies but there could be terms and exclusions.
LIGHTNING Thatched roofs and wooden structures pose a higher risk for fire damage, so if you have either of these your policy will probably require you to install a lightning rod and some form of fire extinguisher. If you don’t, your claim might be refused.
In high-risk scenarios such as thatched roof houses in an area where lightning is common, your policy might exclude fire damage due to lightning. If you have a thatched roof and your house suffers damage due to the roof catching fire but haven’t specified it in your policy, your insurer can deny your claim because it wasn’t aware of the risk.
FIRE Gas stoves, heaters and fireplaces all pose a fire risk. If fire damage was caused by negligence or because you didn’t comply with the insurer’s requirements, your claim will probably be refused.
For example, if you have gas appliances in your home, you need a certificate of conformity for gas appliances. This proves they were installed by someone registered with the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety Association of Southern Africa, were installed leakfree and are safe. If the installation is noncompliant and your home suffers fire damage, the claim will be denied.
An example of negligence is if you haven’t cleaned your chimney and the air flow is hampered because of twigs, dry leaves or birds’ nests that can catch alight. When you submit a claim, insurers will inspect your property to determine if you’ve complied with the policy requirements.
Border walls on your property are usually covered under your homeowner’s insurance. They should be covered against wind and water damage – provided you complied with building regulations.
If you have a brick wall built by someone who didn’t comply with the National Home Builders Registration Council standards, or if you tried to save costs by not building a proper foundation, that’s negligence and your claim will probably be denied.