Once or twice a year, we experience heavy rain because of storms, which cause damage to the infrastructure and buildings.
Readers often call our office asking for our opinion about the party responsible for covering such damage.
The answer is not straightforward, and it will primarily depend on the cause of the flooding.
This could be caused, in addition to the act of God (heavy rain of unusual intensity and duration), but also due to the blocked drains, which seem to attract lots of debris flooding caused by construction work and material left behind.
There is also the case of the slope in roads and some roads leading to a building entrance (especially to basements) where uncaring owners do not bother to clean their properties or take such events into account with construction works that occur either in nearby projects or roads.
Addressing the compensation problem is difficult, but more importantly, it is whether your insurance policy covers such events.
This is a problem in itself since you will be met by a first refusal in the event of a claim from an insurance company.
In one case, the insurance company replied that leaves blocked the roof drains, which flooded the roof, resulting in water entering the apartment.
We protested that an owner cannot visit their roof every other day to ensure the roof drains are not blocked.
The insurance company also claimed bad workmanship with the drains (mind you, it was a building of 20 years without problems).
So, what does one do in such a case, take legal action against the local municipality, the neighbour who did not clean the drains, or even “God” for not considering the extreme rainfall?
In some cases, the government seems to be willing to cover (at least part) of this damage, as was the case of the Larnaca fire that destroyed a number of buildings, even those without a building permit.
There was also the flooding of an artist who was using the building’s basement (parking) as a recording studio and asked the government for compensation – which she got.
We cannot excuse the carelessness of the insured, who do not consider such events.
I am often critical of the insurance companies and the various scams and tricks they come up with in order not to pay or pay far less using our favourite approach.
Although not directly related, the very recent court decision of compensation at Armou village placed the blame on the government due to the non-adherence of the authorities in their duty.
It is a start for the insured to start thinking about whether their insurance contracts are one-sided.
For this, I would like to review the position of the Commissioner of Insurance, who seems to be living in another world.
In my opinion, the commissioner should increase her checks on the prevailing practices and charge them for any loss (other things being equal) in favour of the unsuspecting public.
By Antonis Loizou FRICS – Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Valuers, Property Consultants & Estate Agents