It is due mainly to seasonal heavy rains and strong winds that cause an up surge in claims for damaged boundary and garden walls.
It is worth noting however that home insurance is not meant to cover poor workmanship, a lack of maintenance or bad design. It is in fact there to cover any unexpected accident causing the damage.
Bad weather is frequently the final straw for a poorly maintained or badly constructed wall. Owners of walls found to have been poorly maintained or badly built walls will often have their claim rejected.
There are building regulations in place for the construction of a wall, and these requirements vary for the size, structure and kind of wall being built. For instance the thickness and piers of a wall are determined by its height.
Retaining walls need to be a lot stronger and therefore be thicker and have wider foundations. Regulations are also in place with regard to drainage as a badly deigned retaining wall with inadequate drainage will eventually fail when heavy rains occur.
Putting in an Insurance Claim for storm damage in South Africa
In South Africa a homeowner wanting to increase security will often heighten an existing wall. However, to do so without ensuring that the current foundations are adequate is an insurance risk. Should the wall fail and the foundation be found to be inadequate, then a claim may be rejected.
Insurance assessors can easily recognise a wall which has failed due to poor foundations rather than because of a storm. In such cases the insurance company will not pay out.
Walls which are too thin or built too high for their foundations are unable to withstand the variable climate here in South Africa. Changes in temperature, heat, moisture and strong winds all put a strain on the wall’s construction. These can lead to stress, movement and a weakening of the strength of the wall.
Before buying a property it is desirable to have an independent expert in the building of walls to assess the walls on the property and other structures. If this is not done, you may find problems and unexpected costs further down the line. If you are aware that the walls on your property do not meet the necessary standards, you should have them altered so that they do. If you do not do this, you cannot expect your insurance company to pay out if they do get damaged.
Ensuring a Successful Insurance Claim for Storm Damage
Homeowners should check regularly the condition and for any damage to their garden or boundary walls. Ensure that drainage holes are clear, that there is nothing leaning or putting strain on the walls, and that any build up of eroded soil is removed from the base of the walls.
If an insurance company finds that your wall is not built in accordance with the required standards, but if it had been the damage sustained would have been the same, there is a high possibility that they will in fact honour your claim.
In the case of injury to passers by due to the collapse of the wall, it is likely that you ill be covered by your general owner’s liability in your buildings insurance policy, irrespective of the design or build of the wall. However, owners should not ignore maintenance to failing walls. Owners should keep pedestrians away from the area and have repairs made.
* YouTube example of what storm damage can do – Secunda storm