The recent fires on the Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain served as a blazing reminder of what’s at stake to all homeowners who have not yet arranged to insure their home against these kinds of disasters.
“While nobody likes to think that these kinds of traumatic experiences could happen to them, the reality is that everybody remains at risk. The best advice I could offer homeowners is that they regularly update their building and home contents insurance to ensure that they are fully covered in case of a disaster. Many fail to update these policies on a regular basis, which leaves them at risk of being under-insured, as the cost of things appreciates in value over time. So, while the R1 million building insurance policy you took out five years ago might have been ample at the time, it might not be enough to cover the costs of rebuilding today. The same principle applies to home contents insurance,” explains Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett.
Beyond getting your insurance policies in order, Goslett suggests that some fireproofing renovations might prove helpful to homeowners who reside in areas that are high-risk fire zones. “The first place to start is in the back garden. In an ideal situation, a smart garden design could prevent a fire from reaching your property. Consider installing paving around the perimeter of your home, making sure to leave as little grass as far removed from your property as possible. Plant shrubbery and vegetation around the boundary walls of your property and avoid creating garden beds alongside the home itself. Most importantly, be sure to regularly remove plant and garden debris from your gutters and your garden beds,” Goslett suggests.
The next step Goslett recommends is to ensure that fire-resistant or -retardant building materials have been used on the structure of the home. There are fire-resistant paints that can be applied, thatch roofing or wooden/laminated roof shingles can be replaced with metal or tiled roofs, and wooden doors and windows can be replaced with aluminium doors and windows.
Lastly, Goslett advises that all relevant safety precaution measures are fitted, such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and possibly even fire sprinkler systems. “Not only will this protect the home itself, but it will also increase the resale value of the property when it eventually becomes time to sell,” Goslett explains.