x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Tamweel blaze cause could leave residents without compensation

The carelessly thrown-away cigarette that caused the Tamweel Tower blaze could mean residents without home insurance might not be compensated.

Tenants affected by the fire that gutted the Tamweel Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai may not get compensation if they have no home insurance because the fire was started by a cigarette butt.
Tenants affected by the fire that gutted the Tamweel Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai may not get compensation if they have no home insurance because the fire was started by a cigarette butt.

DUBAI // The carelessly discarded cigarette that caused the Tamweel Tower blaze could mean residents without home insurance might not be compensated for lost possessions.

The result of a police investigation, announced on Tuesday, could absolve the building’s developer Tamweel of any blame for the fire.

That would mean residents might not be able to claim compensation for the contents of their apartments lost in the blaze, which badly damaged about a quarter of the building last month.

“If the liability can be proven, they [the building owner] can in theory be sued for the contents of that place,” said Surendra Nayar, chairman of the owners association board.

“In the case of Tamweel, it’s not their fault that someone threw a cigarette, so they can’t really be held liable for that.”

Investigators found there no evidence that the fire was caused by an electrical fault. It is believed to have been started by a cigarette that ignited rubbish left outside the building, then spread up the flammable building cladding to the roof.

However, one resident, Bassem Fakhry, said the issue of liability was not so clear cut.

“If there was rubbish left exposed, that could catch fire at any time,” he said. “In my view, that counts as liability.”

Insurance loss adjusters are in the final stages of inspecting the building and a report is expected to be ready by next week. It is believed the case will be treated similarly to the Al Tayer Tower fire in April.

The 40-floor building in Sharjah was destroyed in a blaze that was also blamed on a discarded cigarette butt.

The insurers of the Sharjah tower, Arab Orient, said in October that tenants would not be compensated for their lost possessions as the building’s owner was not deemed liable for the fire.

Matthew Newman, a financial adviser at Dubai-based Lime Insurance, said there have been cases where residents were able to claim for damage to possessions from a building’s insurance cover.

“It really depends on the cover,” he said. “Obviously the best type of cover is to take out your own contents insurance.”
One tenant of Tamweel, who did not have contents insurance, said he had not thought it necessary.

“I’d just moved into a brand new building,” he said.

“I didn’t expect it to go up like a Roman candle.”

mcroucher@thenational.ae