Rural property owners face a higher risk from fire than their urban counterparts, and that includes liability risk, says Whakatane District Council’s deputy principal rural fire officer Tony Gillard.
Fire suppression insurance cover is required under the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977.
The consequences are greater because fires are detected later and the emergency response takes longer.
“Any fire you light, be it campfires, cooking fires, braziers, rubbish fires, controlled burns or prescribed burns, are your responsibility.
“You could be liable for costs associated with an escaped fire in the rural area if proven to have caused it.
“Insurance gives landowners and forest owners some security so that a fire doesn’t mean needing to sell other assets, such as your home, to pay for fire suppression cost or other losses caused by a fire starting on your property. Individuals found responsible for causing rural fires have faced costs in excess of $500,000.”
What insurance is needed to cover any potential fire related costs, losses and liabilities?
1. Insurance of property for loss and replacement from fire: For your house, household effects, other buildings, vehicles, plant and machinery, forests and crops.
2. Public Liability Insurance: To cover the cost of damage and loss to a third party from anything, including fire, that escapes from your property and damages other parties’ property.
3. Forest and Rural Fire Act fire suppression insurance: To cover the cost of fire suppression from fire caused by you or started on your property. Cover is required under Section 43, 46 and 46A of the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977.
There are also some simple steps you can take to help reduce emergency response time:
• Clearly display your RAPID (Rural Addressing Property Identification) number at the beginning of your driveway.
• Ensure unhindered access to your property for fire trucks and large vehicles by clearing roads and drives to a width and height of four metres.
• Maintain tracks, roads and bridges
• Maintain water supplies with good access and adequate sign posting.
Tony says: “Check your insurance policy today”. Talk to your insurer to confirm cover and appropriate limits. The buck stops with you!”