Santam Agriculture is partnering with farmers to create awareness of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act and encourage proactive fire risk management.
Hanlie Kroese, business development manager: Santam Agriculture, explains that the National Veld and Forest Fire Act of 1998 is a legislative tool to help farmers prevent financial and infrastructure losses as a result of fire. The Act is important for the South African agricultural environment and farmers have also become much more aware of the implications of fire on their operations and livelihood.
"Fire is always a major risk for farmers, especially in regions where a higher rainfall has resulted in a higher load of combustible material that can burn. This material is also of a lower quality and can burn more easily.
"Farmers are required to comply with the Act, and Santam encourages clients to become members of registered Fire Protection Associations (FPAs) - a stipulation of the Act. An FPA is formed by landowners within the same area, to predict, prevent, manage and extinguish veld, forest and mountain fires," says Hanlie.
As an incentive, Santam will reward clients who are members of FPAs with more competitive insurance premiums in the form of discounted rates and premium and excess incentives. Hanlie says farmers belonging to an FPA are in a much better position to manage fires and this significantly reduces risk for the farmer and Santam.
"Most farmers have to take precautions against fire, but insurance against fire is not a one-size-fits-all. Farmers need insurance against fire damage to crops, assets as well as natural rangeland and pastures.
"A farmer's own property (e.g. buildings, sheds and the contents of such) are insured against fire damage under a Material Damage Section (e.g. the Fire, Building Combined or Office Contents Section), however farmers must also ensure they have cover where the fire spreads from their land onto neighbouring property. Insurance for any legal liability for injury to others or the property of others arising from such a fire can be taken out as an extension of public liability cover.
"Most Agricultural insurance policies exclude legal liability for spreading of fire due to the high risk involved, but cover can usually be purchased for an additional premium. Farmers must make sure that they specifically request cover for fire spreading to plantations or sugar cane if they are in the vicinity of these, as most standard spread of fire extensions do not include fire to plantations and sugar cane in view of the high intensity and cost of such a fire."
Deliberate ignitions that can lead to wildfires include:
- Farmers burning for grazing, regeneration of vegetation and control of nuisance animals;
- Rural landowners burning debris either for invasive alien plant control or general landscaping;
- Burning for grazing around low-cost housing and informal settlements;
- Fire break burning;
- Ecological burning; and
Santam's Agriculture clients are able to obtain the following cover to protect themselves against the unforeseen damages due to fire:
- Cover for damages they may become legally liable for, should a fire start on their farm and then spread to neighbouring farms.
- An extension which gives cover for fire extinguishing charges when the insured's own property is threatened by fire. All reasonable fire extinguishing costs and expenses to prevent the spreading of such fire beyond the borders of the insured's own premises.
- Livestock: Insured against death of the insured animal (excluding game), as defined in the schedule, against fire and the farmer can also get cover for his assets such as fences, buildings and structures.
"At Santam we endeavour to make insurance even more accessible, affordable and attractive to farmers and producers. With more than 84 years of experience, we value our stakeholders' business requirements and need to understand all the challenges they face in order to provide insurance good and proper.
"We undertake to to give you real solutions and sound advice, relevant to your specific circumstances. We acknowledge that insurance is often seen as a grudge purchase - our challenge is to make it more practical. It's all about knowing clients and deciding what will work best for each individual and your specific circumstances," concludes Hanlie.
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