All insurance claims for damage to buildings are assessed by the insurer. Where any material breach of legislation or regulations with regard to construction, maintenance and safety of the buildings are found, the insurer is entitled to reject such claims.
Here are some relevant regulations that must be adhered to:
National Building Regulations
These regulations set out specific requirements for construction of stairs, walls, roofing, etc. It even dictates minimum requirements for fire prevention and protection. This legislation is in place to ensure safety measures are in place for the occupants of buildings.
South African National Standards (SANS)
These are published standards and guidelines that apply to certain installations and fixtures to buildings including (but not limited to) plumbing, gas appliances and electric security fencing. Reputable contractors are obligated to install these fixtures in line with these specified standards.
Municipal and Local Authority Bye-Laws
There is very definitive legislation that prohibits the erection of buildings in a manner that may obstruct services and ability of emergency vehicles from accessing property.
Failure to comply with above legislation, regulations and standards may compromise the property owners at claim stage. Insurers make it a condition in their policy that property owners are responsible to ensure that their buildings are maintained and kept in a safe and compliant state. It goes without saying that it is the property owner’s responsibility to do everything possible to prevent damage, loss or bodily injury on their property.
Some very typical examples of damages or events that could be prevented:
- Water damage caused by plumbing installations that are not compliant – usually geysers.
- Fire damage and spread of fire, where the correct and sufficient firefighting equipment is present.
- Collapse of walls, where incorrect building practices and standards are applied.
- Injury to a person who fell down stairs without sufficient handrail supports.
- The dismantling of an entrance gate to allow for a firefighting vehicle to enter during an emergency.
It would then be prudent, where possible, to insist upon some compliance when attending contract works on the buildings. Insist upon plumbing compliance certificates, gas installation compliance certificates, electrical compliance certificates, fire protection equipment servicing certificates and for proof of approved building plans by the local authorities.
Author: Brian Addison
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