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Be fire-smart with the right protection

The protection of the environment and its sensitive habitats, livestock and livelihood of people against the devastating effects of wildfires remains a key concern in large parts of rural South Africa.

The sheer scale of wildfire disasters in recent years, and the dire financial and socio-economic impact not only farmers and the agriculture sector as a whole, but also on entire communities as a result, have highlighted the plight for a more integrated and effective wildfire management strategy as a major priority.

Santam recognises and supports those efforts that bring together research results, technological developments and the expertise of skilled fire managers to fast-track the implementation of dedicated wildfire risk reduction practices and creating fire-safe environments.

As South Africa’s leading general insurer, Santam actively participates in a co-operative partnership between communities and local governments that drives awareness and educational initiatives to help prevent wildfire disasters.

Santam works closely with Working on Fire, a broad-based, integrated fire management initiative that lobbies municipalities to become increasingly resilient to the impact of fires and to educate communities on the very real risk and potential impact of wildfires on the livelihood of its people.

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Santam has a thorough understanding of the myriad of risks associated with wildfire disasters and has included fire extinguishing charges as part of the Santam Agriculture policy offering.

The extension under the Fire section of the policy provides cover for fire extinguishing charges if the insured’s own property is threatened by fire.

However, in the event that a fire breaks out on the insured’s property and spreads away from the insured property, the insured may become legally liable for damage caused to neighbouring property as a result of the spread of fire. The Public Liability section will protect the owner against this liability.

In an effort to minimise such damage, the insured may incur great expenses to contain and extinguish the fire. The fire extinguishing charges cover available under the Public Liability section of the Santam Agriculture policy indemnifies the insured for all reasonable fire extinguishing costs and expenses which the Insured shall become legally liable to pay as a result of the extinguishing or fighting of fire (including water-bombing by air) to prevent the spreading of such fire beyond the borders of the insured's own premises.

One of the best ways to proactively manage the risk of is for farmers to become members of registered Fire Protection Associations (FPAs) in their respective districts.

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FIRE: RISK WARNING

Devastating cost of fire to farms, the features of our spread-of-fire cover (including water bombing by air and liability cover) and the benefit of joining a Fire Protection Association.

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Benefits of belonging to an FPA

There are numerous benefits for farmers to become members of a registered FPA:

  • FPAs are community-based natural resource management organisations for the collective management of veldfires, using local knowledge within the framework provided by the Act.
  • The benefits of co-operation in preventing and combating veldfires through the institution of the FPA, within the framework of an agreed veldfire management strategy.
  • Effective management of veldfires requires organisational structure, strategy, plans, information, networks, skills and equipment that can seldom be provided adequately by any one landowner alone.
  • Collaboration by FPA Members implies that resources are shared which ultimately leads to the availability of more equipment.
  • The protection that comes from the enforceable rules of the association, as established in its constitution.
  • Improved communication among members about, for example, fire hazard conditions and risk management strategies.
  • As an FPA member, no presumption of negligence would apply in case of a civil claim for damages where a fire has spread from a member’s land and caused damages or losses to the property or land of another person. The benefit lies in the fact that the plaintiff will carry the onus to prove negligence on the part of the defendant regarding the cause of the fire, or the spreading of the fire to other farms.

In view of the increased risk management and legislative benefits provided by FPA membership, Santam will be offering premium and excess incentives to members of approved and well-functioning FPAs.

If you’d like to know more about these incentives, speak to your relationship manager or contact Santam Agriculture on 0860 247 400. For more advice tailored to intermediaries, visit our blog section for useful articles related to the topic, such as how much legal liability insurance farmers should have.

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