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New law places legal liability on homeowners for pool accidents

With Summer in full swing it is essential that consumers make sure they are aware of the legal and insurance implications of owning a swimming pool as new legislation will place even more onus on the owner.

This is according to Marike Stals, Legal and Compliance Manager at MUA Insurance Acceptances, who says homeowners should be aware that there are two types of cover under building insurance policies. “The first covers the actual damage of the structure, while the second is legal liability cover, where the homeowner protects themselves legally against something happening to guests, trespassers and / or their tangible property on the insured property.”

“Currently, the owner of the pool is held accountable under South African Law of Delict in the event of a drowning incident. 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 drowning, whether fatal or not.”

Stals says internationally, pool safety laws are very strict and South Africa is following this trend. A draft ‘By-Laws for the Safe Guarding of Swimming Pools’ has also been proposed to the City of Johannesburg (COJ), which is legislation based purely around the safety-proofing of swimming pools.

“The new By-Law aims to regulate the access to swimming pools and is intended to protect members of the public from drowning. Following the promulgation of the By-Laws, anyone who wants to have a pool installed on their property must apply to the City for approval and all pools must adhere to strict rules according to the By-Law. Those who have pools in their property already will have two years to notify the council about the existence of their pools following the promulgation,” says Stals.

According to the By-Law, all pools will then 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 climb over the fence. All outdoor pools will be required to have a pool cover or must be fitted with a floating pool alarm when the pool is not in use.

“If homeowners with swimming pools do not comply with the statute in the proposed By-Law they can face criminal charges such as fines or even imprisonment. Additionally, the insurance policy will not cover the homeowner if they have not complied with the new By-Law which could potentially be a huge financial loss if the homeowner is found guilty of negligence,” concludes Stals.

Source: Empire Communications (a division of Epic Communications (Pty) Ltd)

June 10, 2012

Posted In: Uncategorized

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