Thinking of doing additions/renovations? Read this!
What DOES homeowners insurance cover?
Damage and loss to your home can occur in many ways – from fire, flooding and natural disasters like storms, to damage caused by thieves trying to gain entry to your house. Most homeowners insurance policies in South Africa will cover the structure of your home and its outbuildings (like the garage and servant’s quarters) against the following types of loss or damage:
- Fire, lightning and explosions.
- Loss or damage caused by deliberate or willful acts.
- Burst geysers and resultant damage.
- Natural Disasters including storm, wind, flood, hail, snow or earthquake damage
- Loss or damage caused by faulty water systems, including burst, leaking or overflowing geysers, water supply tanks, cisterns and water pipes.
- Theft or attempted theft where forcible and violent entry to (or exit from) your property causes damage to the premises.
- Impact by animals, vehicles, falling trees or parts of trees; aircraft or articles dropped from above.
- Breakage or collapse of fixed radio or television aerials, satellite dishes or masts.
- Erosion and / or Subsidence (not due to clay).
Check your policy document for cover of the following:
- Alterations to your property should you become confined to a wheelchair
- Damage to the garden caused by impact
- Emergency services expenses
- Appointing of guards to protect your property
- Replacement of keys, locks and remote control units
- Electrical gate motors
- Cost of demolition fees
- Accidental breakage to fixed glass and sanitary ware
Important: When you are shopping around for insurance quotes, make sure the home insurance cover you choose allows you to claim for the cost of repairs, or even the complete reconstruction of your property if it is damaged to the extent that you cannot live in it. If your home is rendered uninhabitable, some policies will also allow you to claim for the cost of renting alternative accommodation during the time it takes to complete the repair work.
What does homeowners insurance NOT cover?
Homeowner’s insurance is cover for your home (the building, not the contents). “Remember that the insured value is not what you could get if you sold your property; it is for the cost of replacing or rebuilding your home at today’s values. Beware of relying on bank valuations!. Even if the insurer is associated with a bank, make sure your home is not undervalued.
The following are reasons for homeowner’s insurance disputes:
- If your loss was the result of “gradual deterioration” and “maintenance” issues, you aren’t covered. Homeowner’s insurance typically covers you for storm and fire damage.
- Poor design and faulty workmanship. These are usually not covered.
- Retaining walls not built to acceptable standards. Retaining walls have to be built according to engineering specifications. So if a landscaper – and not an engineer – built your retaining wall and it collapses, your insurer might not pay out.
- Subsidence. If your house is built on clay, cover for subsidence is “normally excluded”.
- Unoccupied premises. “If you leave your home unoccupied for, say, 30 days, without advising your insurer, it could have grounds to repudiate a claim”.
- Moveables not covered. There are often disputes over what is a fixture, which is immovable, and what is a moveable item. Homeowner’s insurance covers you for permanent fixtures only.
- Damage from civil unrest or war.
- If you have fascia boards, make sure they are secured with screws, not nails. Some insurers will not pay out if fascia boards secured only with nails, are blown off.