‘I lost everything’: Housewife regrets not taking out fire insurance

SINGAPORE – To escape an electrical fire that engulfed her second-floor Housing Board flat, Mrs. Norizan Abuhassan, 42, her husband and son jumped from her window.

The fire, which occurred on February 28 last year, destroyed the two-room apartment in Block 22 Jalan Tenteram, Whampoa, and personal effects worth $6,000.

Ms. Norizan, a patient services manager, said when she moved into her new flat in Punggol in September, home insurance would be essential.

She said: “It took me six to seven months to save the money for my small business selling clothes from home, as I was off work for almost a year (as I was recovering from my wounds).”

She suffered a broken spine and twisted ankle after jumping from her flat, while her husband needed seven stitches in his right foot after losing his balance on landing.

“I have eight screws in the spine and three screws in the leg,” she said.

Another owner, Mrs. Sadiah Bahar, 51, lost $5,000 worth of personal effects such as cabinets and a refrigerator when a fire broke out in her two-room apartment in Ang Mo Kio in July 2019.

The family’s personal mobility device is believed to have exploded due to overloading.

Mrs. Sadiah, a housewife, said: “I lost everything in the fire, everything is gone. It’s a regret for a lifetime.”

She said she would take out home insurance when she moves into her new apartment, also in Punggol, in December.

With the recent wave of fires this year, fire safety experts and insurance companies are stressing the importance of getting the right home insurance.

This covers civil liability damage to neighbours, renovation costs and the protection of personal effects in the accommodation.

The Housing Board (HDB) requires flat owners who have taken out HDB loans to take out and renew HDB fire insurance for their accommodation while they have an outstanding loan.

But this only covers the cost of restoring damaged internal structures and facilities and areas built and provided by HDB. These include exterior walls and windows of HDB apartments.