With the summer season in full swing, many homeowners are using their swimming pools on a regular basis and pay close attention to maintenance issues, but during the colder winter months maintenance is often neglected. It is important that homeowners realise that a swimming pool requires all-year-round maintenance as they could expose themselves to insurance claim rejections if they fail to maintain their pool.
This is according to Dawie Loots, CEO of MUA Insurance Acceptances, who says that only damage that is considered sudden and unforeseen to the pool will be covered by an insurance policy. “If it is determined that the damage is a result of poor maintenance the claim will not be paid out. The homeowner must also ensure that the swimming pool is insured for the correct replacement value to avoid underinsurance issues.”
Loots says that it is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure that the condition of the property is maintained. “This includes all building structures from swimming pools or jacuzzi’s to garages and other outbuildings.”
“Many consumers are under the misconception that having a swimming pool on a property can lead to higher insurance premiums, but this is not the case. A swimming pool is considered as part of the building structure of the house and is not used as a rating factor when determining insurance premiums,” says Loots
He states that swimming pools and pumps, like most items, will need to be replaced and upgraded over time. “It is therefore a good idea to keep your pool (as with any other building structures) in good condition and discuss any queries or concerns about the insurance of your swimming pool with your broker.”
Loots also states that it is essential that homeowners are also aware of the legal implications of owning a swimming pool, as legislation and building regulations place greater responsibility on homeowners. “South Africa’s civil liability laws mean a civil claim can be charged against a pool owner for any damage suffered as a result of injury or drowning, whether fatal or not.”
“All pools have to be safe guarded in terms of the regulations. This means that all swimming pools must be maintained and fenced off and children should not be able to squeeze and crawl through or climb over the fence. All outdoor pools are be required to have a pool cover, or must be fitted with a floating pool alarm when the pool is not in use,” explains Loots.
Loots provides the below tips for homeowners to ensure that their swimming pool is properly maintained and safe for use by both adults and children;
- Maintain secure fencing and a locked entrance around the pool and deck area to prevent access when adequate supervision is not available.
- Make sure there is adequate lifesaving equipment in the pool area, including life preservers and a rescue hook.
- Keep chemicals safely stored away from the pool area. Follow all storage and usage instructions recommended by the manufacturer.
- Never leave a child unattended in the water or pool area.
- Inspect the liner periodically as rips and tears can appear undetected at the top of the lining.
- Check for signs of wear and tear in areas where pipes or other items may have penetrated the liner (e.g. skimmers, hoses, etc.).
- For swimming pools located above the ground, check metal supports for rust or deterioration. These may indicate areas where the pool could rupture or a person could be injured.
- Check the deck for safety hazards (e.g. protruding nails, loose boards, etc.).
- Keep your pool maintained and seasonably prepped. Be sure to lower the water level and keep the pool covered in the winter months.
- Install an audible pool alarm to alert you if someone falls into the pool while it is unattended.