Permanently fitted carpets are insured as part of an insured building. This means that it is insured against damage caused by sudden and unforeseen flooding events such as burst pips, burst geysers, accidental bath overflows, storm or rainwater and sewerage overflows.
What is not covered is damage resulting from a gradual event caused over an extended period of time, usually by a leaking or corroded pipe, or lack of waterproofing maintenance or ventilation – all which ultimately leads to damp, rot, decay, moss, mildew, etc. The reason for these exclusions is that insurers cannot be held responsible for costs that escalated over a period of time after the initial event took place.
Responsibility of owners
For the reasons stated above, it is the owners’ responsibility to do everything they reasonably can to prevent further damage after an event has taken place. These days all policies require it and insurers may well reject claims where owners are found to have acted irresponsibly in preventing further damage. Insurers and appointed assessors are mindful of the fact that the cost of cleaning carpets is far less expensive than to replace carpets and they are prepared to consider reasonable emergency costs required to prevent further damage.
Swift action by a reputable carpet contractor can often save a carpet flooded by clean water from a geyser or a burst pipe. Carpets flooded by soiled water, flood mud, silt or sewerage flooding are invariably damaged to an extent where it is impossible to save the carpet which then needs to be replaced.
Emergency costs not covered
What is very important to note is that the policy covers actual damage and where a carpet has been saved, there is no damage for which the insurers are liable for. There is then no underlying claim and as such, insurers are not responsible for the emergency costs incurred. Depending on the circumstances, insurers may consider an ex-gratia (voluntary) contribution for these costs.
It is also important is to note that, where a carpet is partially damaged but needs to be completely replaced, insurers are only liable for the cost for the damaged part of the carpet.
Author: Rian Pienaar
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