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Homeowners' Insurance
Monday, July 22, 2013 - 12:23
Certificate caution

Concerns over home security have led many South African homeowners to install electric fences as an added layer of protection against burglars. But if they have not used the services of a certified installer they may face the risk of financial loss if a claim is rejected, or even legal costs associated with liability claims.
This is according to Marike van Niekerk, Legal and Compliance Manager at MUA Insurance Acceptances, who says any homeowner who is planning to have electric fencing installed or upgraded must ensure it complies with Regulation 12 of the Electric Machinery Regulations of 2011. “This legislation stipulates that all new, upgraded or repaired electric fences are required to comply with strict regulations now governing the industry and the homeowner must have in his possession a certificate of compliance issued by a certified installer.”
Non-compliant electric fences not only place homeowners at risk of insurance claim rejection, but the homeowner may also be held legally liable for any injuries inflicted upon others, including trespassers, says van Niekerk. “Any legal liability claim resulting from non-compliance with legislation will be excluded from cover under the homeowners’ insurance policy.”
Van Niekerk says this also applies to property owners renting out to a third party. “Not only does the property owner face expensive legal costs, but he also runs the risk of being criminally prosecuted.”
She says that should an insurer establish that an electric fence was installed by an unregistered installer and the fence has to be fixed or replaced due to damage, such a claim can be rejected on the grounds of defective workmanship. “In addition, property owners will be forced to remove their fence or ensure that an accredited installer upgrades it to meet compliance requirements.”
In order to issue a certification of compliance, all electric fence installers must be registered by the Department of Labour as well as pass an exam by 1st October 2013 to ensure they are qualified and able to meet the regulations as prescribed in the new law.
The South African Electrical Fencing Installers’ Association anticipates that by this date there will be only 300 registered and accredited electric fence installers nationwide. “This figure is quite low and should serve as a caution to homeowners who must properly screen their contractors before commencing work on their premises.”
Van Niekerk adds that homeowners will be unable to transfer a property where electric fences are present without providing an Electric Fence Certificate (EFC) to the conveyance attorney. “This certificate must be presented along with the electrical compliance certificate. The EFC is transferable, so once it is issued there is no need for another certificate to be issued upon transfer of ownership.”
She advises that property owners should take precaution and include an appropriate clause in their rental or sale agreement to address the requirements and responsibilities for electric fence compliance of each party before the property is occupied by the lessee or buyer.
According to the new law, property owners will have to make sure that proper warning signs are erected on the property to caution all visitors, says van Niekerk. “These signs should be visible from the pavement and the driveway. In addition to this, the legislation also stipulates that an electric fence should not hang over into the neighbouring property.”

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:26.7 1st July, 2013
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