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How water cuts will affect building insurance

In August 2017, we first wrote about the possibility of water supply cuts in the cities affected by severe drought. Over the past four months, expected late rains did not do anything to alleviate the water supply crisis and dam levels have continued to reduce over the summer months.

The City of Cape Town has put I place firm water usage restrictions in an attempt to avoid the City turning off the taps. Dramatic steps are advised and enforced to reduce consumption in the few months leading up to the ill-fated date; however, Day Zero is now expected by mid April 2018.

Day Zero is very different from simple pressure reductions or temporary water cuts as – from an insurance point of view – it means that water-reliant fire protection equipment will not be functional at all.

The latest feedback from building insurers is that they are reminding clients of their responsibilities as property owners. Property owners cannot simply bury their heads in sand and ignore this responsibility. One of the largest specialist buildings insurers (risk underwriting managers), CIA have provided a number of guidelines.

In the event that existing water reliant fire protection equipment or apparatus becomes inoperative, alternative firefighting and protection methods must be available. Where hose reels are installed, they advise installing two additional 9kg hand-held fire extinguishers for each hose reel.

Fire sprinkler systems are to remain open as per required standards, unless written instruction is received from local government or local fire authorities. Insurers must be informed when fire sprinkler systems are deactivated.

It is furthermore the property owner’s responsibility to keep the property safe and to mitigate any potential losses or fire hazards. Housekeeping should be re-visited with regards to reducing bush encroachment against building structures as well as ensuring removal and clearing of combustible waste or materials from being stored against the buildings. In areas where strong winds prevail, it is prudent to prevent or ban open fires around the building, and to educate owners and occupants on the effective use of the hand-held fire extinguishing equipment.   

We encourage our clients to actively protect their buildings and not prejudice themselves in event of fires at a time where there is no water.


Author: Brian Addison

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