Yes: If the cause of the damage was a sudden and unforeseen insured event.
No: If the damage was caused by wear and tear, defective workmanship, defective design or product, lack of maintenance or has arisen over an extended period of time.
Sectional Title Prescribed Rules (the new regulations) set out the perils or events that the body corporate must be insured against. The perils affecting the buildings include damages caused by, fire, storm, wind, tempest, flood and earthquakes, amongst others. The Sectional Title policy held by the body corporate should at least provide cover against these prescribed risks.
If the roof is damaged as a result of one of these events or perils, the policy should respond appropriately. It all comes down to the cause or proximate cause.
However, if the cause was due to a lack of maintenance or failed waterproofing as a result of wear and tear rather than a storm event, there would be no cover for the roof damage.
Example A: The body corporate’s budget is tight and although the roof is showing signs of disrepair, the trustees decide to rather wait until they have built up sufficient funds before attending to waterproofing of the roof. A storm system moves in and the roof leaks badly which highlights the areas needing repair. As a result, the ceilings below are water damaged.
In this example, the insurer will definitely not pay for the roof repair, as the damaged roof area “was due to of wear and tear or lack of maintenance” rather than the storm itself.
The resulting water damage will mostly likely be rejected by the insurer because the failure to take preventative measures and lack of maintenance caused this loss. Some insurers are more lenient on the resulting damge portion where it can be proven that the trustees actually were not aware of the poor state of waterproofing prior to the event.
Example B: The roof and waterproofed areas of a particular complex are in a good state of repair and regularly checked. A storm system moves in and tiles are shifted by strong wind. An area of roofing is ripped off by the wind and torrential rain pours into the roof cavity causing flooding in sections below.
In this example, the insurer will pay for the entire loss without question, as the event was clearly a storm and wind related peril, occurred suddenly and was not foreseeable. The trustees can show that the roof was in good condition, so there are no grounds for the insurer to consider rejection.
The importance of keeping the roof structure and coverings (exterior membrane) well-maintained and checked cannot be emphasized enough. Huge losses can occur and if the insurer rightfully rejects a claim on grounds that the cause was not peril-related, owners could find themselves financially compromised.
Good practice is for managing agents or trustees to arrange for routine check-ups on the roofing and waterproofing, and to keep records of these inspections.
It will be comforting when submitting any insurance claim for roof damages, knowing that the roof and waterproofing are well-maintained and in good state of repair. Having records of such maintenance efforts will assist in proving any claim, i.e. that losses were sudden and unforeseen and not as a result of lack of maintenance.
Author: Mike 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