Most properties in South Africa will have some form of property insurance and so owners are generally satisfied that they have liability cover in the event of a loss or injury on their property. However, liability insurance is not always that simple and it is imperative that property owners familiarise themselves with the terms and conditions of their insurance cover. It is also vital that property owners investigate all property insurance policies as some offer considerably higher limits of indemnity than others.
Many property insurance policies now require compliance with national building regulations in order to validate cover, and in the policy contract, the insured are always expected to take every reasonable precaution to safeguard themselves from loss or injury. Is it reasonable to expect every property owner to have an intimate knowledge of national building regulations? I do not believe this to be a practical or feasible approach. However, it is a reasonable expectation that the property owners maintain and care for their properties and take all reasonable precautions to safeguard against loss or injury suffered on or as a result of their properties. Where necessary or when in doubt, suitably qualified professionals must be consulted to assist the property owner in achieving this. Failure to do this may quite possibly prejudice the insurer. In the event of a claim, unnecessary damage that could have been avoided may be suffered, with the consequence being partial or total rejection of the claim. Amounts claimed in liability claims tend to be considerably higher than those of material damage claims, so the effects of non-settlement of a claim have the potential to be financially devastating to a property owner.
In order to protect themselves and their insurance cover, property owners should ensure that suitable precautions are taken in and around their swimming pools.
Below is a list of such measures, which could also extend to a variety of other communal facilities at the property such as lakes, rivers, children’s playgrounds and sporting facilities.
Fences: All swimming pools should be enclosed with an appropriate fence and point of access. Fences must be sufficient to keep children from squeezing through or climbing over and should not be of such a nature that they themselves could cause injury (e.g. thorny hedges or rusty, sharp iron).
Ultimately, the responsibility for any property rests with the owner and all that can be expected is that they take every reasonable precaution to safeguard their property and all who visit it. This means keeping a well-maintained property that is compliant with relevant legislation and sound building specifications.
Despite the best efforts of the property owner, however, there will still be some individuals who wilfully create dangerous situations for both themselves and others. This may include people performing reckless acts in and around the pool or using the pool while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Often, the actions of such people have traumatic and costly consequences. Liability Insurance provides cover where the property owner is legally liable for the damage. Where any person chooses to act outside of the realm of reasonable behaviour or willingly endangers themselves, it is highly unlikely that the property owner can or will be held liable for any loss or injury suffered.
In the end, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Making a small effort now will avoid potential troubles and, more importantly, save lives.
Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 7, Issue 1, Page 3
Bruce Gibson is a specialist sectional title financial advisor at AddSure (www.addsure.co.za).
This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.