Insurance is often the cause of disagreements and disputes in Sectional Title schemes, but it need not be if unit owners, trustees and their managing agents just keep a few basic things in mind. The first of these is that the body corporate insurance {and the extent of that insurance) is a legal requirement in terms of the Sectional Titles Act. The trustees have to make sure that it is in place and there is no debate among owners whether it is needed or not.


Another important note is that every owner in the complex by default pays part of the cost of this insurance. This cost (the premium) is typically included in the annual budget for the complex {levy budget). Each owner pays their portion of the premium per the PQ (participation quota) that is calculated on the area occupied.


All homeowners in the sectional title need to be clear about what exactly is covered under their joint insurance policy. You as an owner are entitled to a copy of your policy whenever you would like one. It is advisable for the trustees to use a broker to guide you and all owners of the extent of cover.


What this whole article is about is what the Sectional Title policy does not cover. Generally, unless specifically specified, the Sectional Title policy will cover the Body Corporate for the full replacement value of all or any residential sections in the complex and any communal areas that is destroyed by fire, flood, earthquake, riots, burst pipes and vehicle collisions. With the changes in insurance products all specialist insurance companies include Liability cover as a requirement of the CSOS Act, trustees' indemnity, and where required machinery breakdown. Additional items may be included as required so it is advisable to speak to your broker for assistance on this cover.


Apart from the above, homeowners will have to get their own insurance to cover their household contents. This would be your furniture, personal belongings, appliances, electrical equipment, amongst other things kept in your home. Damage to these is not covered by the Sectional Title policy, even if they are damaged by something the complex's policy does cover.


It is so important to remember that all insurance policies cover against sudden unforeseen events no matter what kind of policy it is. Keep in mind that there is an excess or first amounts payable linked to any claim you make, this is also for if you are making a claim from a neighbour's damage coming into your own unit. Whoever lodges the claim is the one who pays the excess.


Let's talk about what is considered as a "sudden unforeseen event". This is something that happens abruptly, quickly or taking place all at once. It is something that was not planned, and also is not gradually occurring. Anything that is linked to wear and tear or that which can be maintained, and the damage is linked to lack of maintenance is not covered.


This means that things like rising damp, tree roots, slow leaks, peeling paint, or any other slow damage happening in your home or to your personal belongings is not considered a valid claim. This is why it is important to have a broker that can help you understand your cover and whether it is advisable to claim.