Lack of insurance adds fuel to the fire

The latest high-rise fire to hit the UAE is a stark reminder why residents need to have their homes and belongings insured.

AJMAN // The latest high-rise fire to hit the UAE is a stark reminder why residents need to have their homes and belongings insured.

Many of the owners and tenants who were left homeless after Monday night’s fire in towers six and eight of the Ajman One development did not have a home and contents policy that would help to cover the cost of replacing their possessions destroyed in the blaze.

With insurance premiums as low as a few hundred dirhams a year, distraught residents have been left regretting their lack of foresight as they start the grim process of tallying up what remains.

Hawwa Haide’s flat on the fifth floor of Tower Six suffered only partial damage in the blaze itself, but water damage from the sprinkler system means her home is unliveable for now.

“The lounge is completely burnt out, however, the bedroom and kitchen were damaged because of the sprinklers.”

The British homeowner said she thought about taking out insurance for her apartment while back in the UK but never got around to it.

“It was on top my list of things-to-do, but when I came back I forgot about it,” said the businesswoman.

Joseph Agon shared an apartment in Tower Eight with colleagues from the restaurant where he worked. He and his flatmates lost all of their belongings in the fire.

“Our apartment was burnt out badly, we don’t have any insurance, and now we have to pick up our lives and move on,” said the Filipino.

Menna Talla, regional communication & Corporate Responsibility manager at AXA Insurance, said policies could cost as little Dh200 a year.

“Such an event is unfortunately a wake-up call for everyone,” he said.

“Either landlords or tenants realise that they are missing home insurance and that they can lose everything in one disastrous event. After such incidents we see a big increase in inquires online, but afterwards it goes back to normal levels.”

Mousa Abdulfatah, who owns a flat in Tower Six, said he was facing a “financial catastrophe” because of the fire and planned to make home insurance a priority in the future.

“I bought the apartment a few months ago as an investment, but didn’t bother buying an insurance,” said the Palestinian.

“I don’t want to be in this mess again, it’s a financial catastrophe to me and my family,” said the businessman.

Ghaleb Jaber, general manager of Real Estate Investments Public Corporation, which manages Ajman One, said all 12 residential towers were covered by buildings insurance and Towers Six and Eight would be inspected on Sunday.

“The insurance company came yesterday [Tuesday] and repairs will be started after an expert comes to determine the damage,” Mr Jaber said, adding the total number of damaged apartments was unclear as police and civil defence are still surveying the towers.