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Buildings Insurance: What is covered?

In this blog, we consider some of the events that trustees of a Sectional Title building should have insurance for:

  1. Fire, lightning and explosion;
  2. Riot, civil commotion, strikes, lock-outs, labour disturbances or malicious persons acting on behalf of, or in connection with, any political organization
  3. Storm, tempest and flood;
  4. Earthquake
  5. Aircraft and other aerial devices or articles dropped from the air;
  6. Bursting or overflowing water tanks, apparatus or pipes;
  7. Impact with any of the said buildings or improvements by any road vehicle, horses or cattle;
  8. Housebreaking or any attempt threat;
  9. Loss of occupation or loss of rent in respect of any of the above risks.

It is under #6 where most of the problems seem to arise!

In order to clarify this issue, let’s consider an example of a perils-based policy wording which pertains to bursting of pipes:


Sudden and unforeseen bursting of water tanks, water apparatus (excluding geysers, which are more specifically insured under Section M – geyser Maintenance, and boilers) or water pipes, including damage thereto, but excluding loss or damage to any property caused by or aggravated by;

  1. Wear and tear or gradual deterioration, rust, corrosion, mildew or damp
  2. Subsidence and landslip;
  3. The insured’s failure to take reasonable precautions for the maintenance and safety of the property insured and to minimize any destruction or damage.

From this example, it is clear that a leak, drip or something “not sudden” would not be covered; specifically a leak caused by say a “pin-hole” or other deterioration over time.

To summarise:

1. Burst pipe with resulting damage: Insurer should pay for the locating, repair of the pipe as well as the “putting back” e.g. re-tiling and replace any other “resulting” damaged areas e.g. ceilings damaged, carpet damaged etc.

2. Deteriorated pipe, slow leak or damp over time: Not an insurance claim – no sudden water damage, loss caused by deterioration.

3. Deteriorated pipe but sudden ‘collapse’ of pipe; sudden appearance of water, eg. Running pool of water, flow of water: Insurance will only pay for the resulting water damage e.g. the ceiling in flat below that was suddenly damaged. The location of the leak, the repair and the putting back of tiles etc – for the owner or if common property, the body corporate’s account.

Here are some examples where the cause is ‘wear and tear’, common issues and not insurance matters: bath traps leaking  or dripping; shower waterproofing not working well; roots growing into waste pipes and causing damage over time; sealing (silicone beads) needing replacement; rising damp; roofing needing repairs, etc.

The above policy wordings may also apply to your freestanding home via your homeowner’s policy.

Remember that your insurer is not your ‘maintenance plan’ but rather your insurer. We are there to indemnify the insured against a defined event: something sudden and unforeseen as described above (a fire, explosion, storm, bursting), not as a result of gradual deterioration or wear and tear.


Author: Mike Addison, Addsure

Contact Addsure – The Leaders in Sectional Title Insurance – to get fit and proper advice from advisors who understand sectional title. Contact us in Johannesburg (011) 704-3858, Durban (031) 459-1795; Cape Town (021) 551-5069.