KNOCK-ON DAM­AGE

Leaks, floods, burst pipes – what can you claim from your in­sur­ance pol­icy?

DRUM - - ADVICE -

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.

WA­TER DAM­AGE

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.

WEATHER DAM­AGE

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.

FIRE DAM­AGE

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.

WIND DAM­AGE

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.

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