Fire and Rescue Department data show an alarming trend in which only two million out of eight million houses in Malaysia are insured against fires, reported The Star.
Last year, around RM3.31 billion worth of property was destroyed by fire.
“Many people think such a disaster will not happen to them, but statistics do not lie,” said Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid.
The director revealed that the 6,301 cases handled by the department last year was due to ignorance on the causes of fires and human errors.
These ranged from indiscriminate disposing of cigarette butts, overloading electrical appliance usage, short circuits from old wiring, usage of candles and smoking in bed.
Mohammad Hamdan stated that this was aggravated by low awareness on the necessity for fire detection, extinguishing systems and escape procedures.
“People barricade their homes with grilles for security with no thought of how they can escape in the event of an emergency. Many do not have fire extinguishers at home. They think they can rely on the fire department to put out a fire.”
“They don’t realise that initial action can save lives and property from extensive damage or loss,” he lamented.
He strongly advised people to get fire insurance coverage.
One reason why fire insurance gets ignored, according to Allianz Malaysia chief executive officer Zakri Khir, is because most people believe their houses are already protected under the fire insurance requirement of most banks during the property loan financing.
“But they forget that the insurance policy expires once the loan is paid. If there is a fire after this, all the monthly payments will have come to naught, and they have to start all over again,” he said.
REHDA president Datuk Soam Heng Choon said it is important for homeowners to understand the need to secure insurance policies which provide coverage for burst pipes, explosions, lightning, flood, theft and fires.
He also cautioned owners against unwittingly purchasing overlapping insurance policies.
“For high-rise properties, it is compulsory for the management committee (MC) to have a master fire policy to insure the building.”
“Most owners do not know they can ask for a copy and show this to the bank when applying for a loan, so that they do not have to pay a second time for another fire insurance policy in their financing plan.”