The following question often arises: Are garden irrigation systems covered by the body corporate or home owners association buildings insurance policy? If so, what are the limitations?
In this instance, we are not talking about hoses or pipes that are connected to taps or water sources and that lie on top of the lawns and garden beds. Rather, we are referring to permanently laid underground piping with pop-up sprinkler heads that run on computerised timers and usually, with multiple circuits that serve extensive common property garden areas. These irrigation systems are improvements that are deemed to be external fixtures and/or fittings. The installation or equipment is not deemed to qualify as being machinery and therefore, machinery breakdown cover is not extended to these installations. Only a borehole pump motor would be embraced by the machinery breakdown cover provided in the policy.
We have approached five specialist underwriters or insurers for comment and opinions herein and we are comfortable to suggest the following:
- A standard perils-based insurance policy covers the irrigation system in event of specified events only, e.g. sudden damage caused by an earthquake, fire, flood, impact by vehicle or aircraft, or explosion. In the case of a broad form asset all risk type policy, any sudden damage is covered unless otherwise specifically excluded.
- Depending on the insurer, limited cover (if any) is provided in event of theft to these installations, usually between R10 000 and R20 000. Check your policy cover limit as may apply. It is highly unlikely that an entire irrigation system will get stolen but rather certain exposed components. Policy excess (first amount payable by insured) applies in the event of any claim and this would negate any smaller or more frivolous claims.
- In the event of a catastrophe claim event, where the entire irrigation system may be damaged or destroyed, the insurers may call for proof and/or substantiation of value. If your common property irrigation system holds a substantial re-instatement value, it would be prudent to note this value in the policy as part of common property improvements.
Author: Brian Addison
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