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Fire prevention and insurance advice for property and business owners

Home-owners along the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town have felt the might of runaway wild fires.

While the Western Cape fire department has the situation under control, residents are once again aware of the need to remain vigilant against the increasing risks of fire damage and injury caused by wildfires.

Similar to the devastation left behind by the fires that swept through the Garden Route area in November 2018, insurance is one of the necessary steps to take to reduce the risks of financial loss caused by fire damage, says Bradley Du Chenne, CEO of Hippo

If you have not done so already, do a regular household insurance review to ensure that new appliances and other valuable items you added to your assets over the last year are in fact covered by your insurance cover.


Du Chenne says it is important that people understand what cover they prevent any fire-related claims from being rejected.

Insurance cover for fire damage will depend on which type of cover you have, be it car insurance, buildings insurance, household insurance or business insurance. “You cannot, for example, claim for fire damage to your furniture if you only have buildings insurance,” says Du Chenne.

He says policyholders are generally covered for fire damage if they have

- Vehicles insurance with comprehensive car insurance or third party, fire and theft cover.

- Buildings insurance either through their home loan or bond account provider or estate, or personal buildings insurance cover if they own the property.

- Household insurance usually covers items such as furniture, electrical appliances, linen and clothing. With this you need to do a regular household insurance review. Should you be under-insured, you could face having only a portion of your claim paid, says De Chenne.

- For watercrafts such as yachts, motorboats, dinghies, rubber ducks and jet skis, you should have a watercraft policy taken out alongside their car, buildings or household insurance policy.

- A business property requires business insurance for any motor or non-motor assets such as vehicles, buildings and office equipment used for business purposes. Insurers could also cover you for business interruption as a result of fire damage.

Policyholders are cautioned by highlighting the below examples of when fire related damage would not necessarily be covered by your insurer:

1. Arson

Deliberately setting property on fire is a criminal offence and not covered under your insurance policy. Investigators are appointed by insurers to determine whether the fire has been caused by arson.

2. Fire in a vacant home

Insurers normally define a vacant home as one that has not been occupied for more than 30 consecutive days. You can, however, obtain an unoccupied home insurance endorsement to your existing policy from certain insurers.

He also recommends that home owners especially those that live in urban or peri-urban areas follow these tips on reducing the fire risk of your properties.

It boils down to creating three distinct ‘zones’ of protection around your home:

- The immediate zone around your home

It should consist of well-irrigated, fire resistant, low-growing ground-covers and lawn, together with non-flammable hard-landscaping, such as flagstone walks, brick patios, stone retaining walls, gravel and inorganic mulches, namely an immediate zone that offers low-resistance.

- The garden or medium resistance zone

Choose fire-resistant trees and shrubs, but make sure they do not touch each other or create a fire-ladder effect.

- Perimeter or buffer zone

Plant low-growing, fleshy-leaved ground-covers, hedging plants, large aloes and isolated forest trees that are fire-resistant and re-sprout when damaged by fire.


“As policy benefits and exclusions vary depending on the exact type of cover and the specific insurance provider, you should always check your policy documents to ensure you are adequately covered. If you feel that an insurer is not providing you with the right service or cover suited to your needs, shop around for a better deal,” says Du Chenne.

Should you need any assistance please feel free to visit our website


Article courtesy of Property24
pictures by Pixabay