Building Insurance for New Builds

It’s important at any time to be sure about what you’re insuring your home against, but it becomes even more complex if you’re moving into a new build. At Allied Claims, we sometimes come across policy-holders who’ve lost out on insurance claims for new builds because they’ve confused NHBC with building insurance.

If you’re buying a new build, it’s vital to ensure that the builder is registered with the National Building Council (NHBC). This will mean your home is covered by Buildmark, a ten-year warranty.

Any structural damage will be covered by Buildmark for the full ten years, although other damages and defects have to be claimed within two years of buying the property. Buildmark is a warranty on the building itself, and can be transferred to a new owner if it’s sold within the first ten years.

The problem is that many owners of new builds seem to assume that their NHBC warranty is equivalent to a full building insurance. It’s not. The warranty is only valid against damage and defects that stem, directly or indirectly, from the builder’s errors. Anything external that happens to your property, from subsidence to being hit by a lorry, is outside the NHBC terms.

For any incidents of this kind, you need a regular building insurance policy. You’ll still have to convince the insurance company’s Loss Adjuster to pay up (that never changes) but without building insurance you could be left to pay for the full repairs yourself.

Ensure You Have Correct Cover for Your Building Insurance

There are many reasons for clients calling us in to act as Loss Assessor for their insurance claim. All too often, it’s because the Loss Adjuster has told them they’re under insured and has invoked the Average clause, meaning they’ll be paid less than expected.

This most often results from using an old valuation in the insurance policy. It’s not unknown for a 30-year-old valuation to be used, though in today’s volatile property market even a two-year-old one could be worthless. This will mean the building is under insured, and the Loss Adjuster will only allow a proportion of the insurance claim.

When you’re establishing how much to insure a building for, first find out the current building costs that would be required, either by speaking to a local contractor or by checking the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) website.

Then add a few percentage points — we all know this figure will have increased by your next renewal date.

You also need to take account of any additions or alterations. In any case, the policy holder is obliged to inform the Insurer if any alterations are about to be made. It could help you, too, if you need to take legal action against a contractor for causing damage through bad workmanship.

And finally, remember not to include the value of the ground in your building insurance. You’re insuring the building, not the ground it’s built on, and you’ll be paying extra premium for nothing.

High-Value Possessions — How to Make Sure They’re Covered by Your Insurance

Our last newsletter, on setting the right level of contents cover, seems to have sparked a lot of interest, judging from the questions we’ve received. Many of these have been about the thorny issue of high-value possessions.

What Are High-Value Possessions?

Put simply, a high-value item is any possession valued at above the allowed level specified in your insurance policy. Most people think in terms of jewellery and watches, but it could be books, art, collections, equipment or even clothing. And they’re not only at risk of burglary. Fire or flood can destroy possessions of high monetary or sentimental value.

You may have some idea of the value if you’ve bought the item yourself, though it may still be higher than you thought, but if you’ve received it as a gift the chances are you won’t know the value. If you’re in any doubt at all, it’s best to get items valued, and they should be specified in the policy if they’re above the value — otherwise, the Insurer’s loss adjuster is likely to refuse payment for them.

In almost every case Allied Claims comes across, the policy-holder assumed it would never happen to them. In one recent case, for instance, the claimant lost out on an entire £91,000 claim because they were under-insured and hadn’t specified several high-value items.

How Do I Make Sure I’m Covered?

It would be easier if there were a one-size-fits-all procedure, but the reality is that each Insurer has different criteria for what constitutes high value and what kind of proof you need for claiming. It’s up to you to check this, but the basic steps that are usually needed are:

  1. Identify the high-value amount per item set by the Insurance Company.
  2. Disclose and itemise each relevant piece in the policy.
  3. Photograph each item and keep all the photos in a safe place.
  4. Keep the original invoices if you’ve bought the item yourself.
  5. Have valuations done every few years for each item by a reputable dealer who knows what they are doing.

This won’t necessarily be all, though. The Insurer may well impose extra conditions, such as burglar alarms and safes, or they could require particular items to be kept in a safe depository. They need to be aware of the value to determine what’s necessary, though, and if you don’t inform them your insurance claim could be invalid.

How Much Insurance Cover Should You Have?

How much should you insure your possessions for? It’s a tricky question, since too low means you wouldn’t be able to replace everything if you made a claim, while too much means you’re wasting money on the premiums, and the Loss Adjuster will require the correct valuation when you claim. What you need is just enough cover.

In addition to the basic cover, contents insurance providers offer various add-ons. Perhaps the most important of these is Accidental Cover, which we’d advise taking up, while other extras like Legal Cover and Home Emergency Cover depend on the circumstances. If you’ve done the sensible thing and gone through an insurance broker, they’ll advise you on these.

Valuing Your Possessions

So how do you get an accurate valuation of your possessions? It’s a laborious job, but you only have to do it once. Just go from room to room putting each item and its value on a spreadsheet, not forgetting those obscure items (bike, barbecue, exercise equipment) that you used once or twice and stuck in the shed or attic.

You’ll be surprised how much it all adds up to — and the good news is that, once you’ve done it, you’ll only need to add new items as you get them.

For anything regarded as high-value by Insurers, you’ll need to make up a second spreadsheet. Anything worth more than the Insurer’s high-risk single item value must be itemised in the insurance policy, or the Loss Adjuster will refuse to pay out on a claim for those items.

Getting Your Possessions Valued for Contents Insurance

Do you know the value of the possessions you have in your home? If you’re like most of us, probably not, which is why so many people are shocked when they make an insurance claim to replace their possessions after major damage to their home.

So why do we lose perspective over the value of what’s in our home? This is partly because we typically amass our possessions over a long period of time. Even if we’re among the rare people who’ve kept the receipts, we don’t usually keep up with price increases. The replacement cost may be a good deal more than the original price.

And that’s if we’ve actually bought the item. If it was a gift or an inheritance, we don’t usually think about finding out the insurable value.

It helps to have a photograph of the item if its value isn’t known, but a genuine valuation is better. The Insurer usually stipulates an upper limit that can be paid for any individual item, unless its value has been specified in the policy documents. If an item isn’t listed, you may not receive its full replacement cost.

When you’re taking out a contents insurance policy, make sure it includes a list of what’s being covered, including items you may not expect to count as contents, such as flooring and carpets. The Insurer’s Loss Adjuster will always ask for a complete list of damaged or missing items when you make a claim.

New Strategies By Burglars

Have you ever noticed a sticker appearing on your gate, wall or door-post? They usually look innocent enough, just advertising the 24 hour services of a local plumber, locksmith or electrician. Perhaps useful, perhaps annoying, but there can’t be any harm in them, can there?

Sometimes there isn’t, but the company may not have put them there — it may not even exist. Stickers like this are increasingly being used as code by burglars, marking houses for future burglary.

If you find a sticker of this kind:

• Remove it at once.
• Contact the company (if it exists) to find out if they put it there.
• If not, notify the police.
• Make sure that all your locks are secure.

Disposal of Valuables

An occupational hazard of being a burglar has always been the risk of getting caught with your valuables while making a getaway — but the modern burglar is getting around this.

“Cash for Gold” envelopes are intended to allow law-abiding people to post small valuables and be sent cash in return, instead of having to take things to the local pawn shop. Unfortunately, this also works for burglars and their ill-gotten gains. If the envelope is posted at the nearest letter-box, the burglar is carrying no incriminating evidence.

The main things you can do about this are increase your security and mark all your valuables so they may be recoverable. And, always, make sure your contents insurance is up to date.

In the unfortunate event of suffering a loss through burglars and you need to make a claim you can contact us here >>>

I, an Insurance Assessor advise – “Beware Tech-Savvy Burglars”

insurance assessor burglaryAs a insurance assessor I see so many problems that arise from theft. If you think your valuables are hidden securely in your home, you may need to think again. Burglars are increasingly resorting to technology to lead them to the valuables hidden around the house in locked cupboards and drawers.

I, as an insurance assessor, have seen that there’s been a dramatic increase in the use of metal detectors by burglars. Instead of having to take up crucial time searching the house and forcing open doors and drawers, the detector will lead them straight to what they want. The tech-savvy burglar can be in and out like a surgical strike.

insurance-assessor-safeA locked safe can help, of course, but the keys will also be picked up by the metal detector, however well hidden. A better answer would be to have a safe, attached to a solid wall or floor, that’s secured by a combination lock. If the burglar doesn’t have the combination, a metal detector won’t help.

A combination safe could not only save your valuables, it could also save you money on insurance premiums as both you and I, who will be your insurance assessor know all too well. This may vary depending on the policy or circumstances, but you should certainly bring up the fact with your insurer or insurance broker and find out what effect it will have.

If the burglars are successful and you have to make a claim, you’ll need a current valuation, an invoice or receipt, or a photo of the item to give the insurer’s Loss Adjuster — ideally all three. But, if you invest in a combination safe, it may not come to making a claim.

If you wish some more advice on this or any other topic relating to a burglary claim then contact me here >>>

Insurance Claim Jargon — More Terms Explained

In my last blog, I explained a few insurance claim terms that might baffle you. At Allied Claims, we do our best to make it straightforward, but other insurance professionals, such as a Loss Adjuster, may not realise you don’t understand what they’re talking about.
Business Interruption
When business productivity is stopped by an unplanned event or disaster, affecting the company’s profits.
insurance-claim-business-interruptionIf your business has to temporarily stop trading, for instance during repairs following a fire or flood at your premises, a Business Interruption Clause can be activated. Your insurance claim under this clause will normally cover loss of income, and also loss of certain overheads over a specified period of time.
This isn’t always as simple as it sounds, since the insurance company’s Loss Adjuster may not be using the same definitions of costs and overheads as your accountant. Because of this, we’d recommend that you consult both an accountant and an Insurance Broker when determining your level of cover for Business Interruption.
Getting the right level of Business Interruption cover could mean the difference between your business surviving or going under after a disaster. It’s estimated that at least 70% of businesses that suffer a catastrophic insurance claim fold within two years, either because they have insufficient or inappropriate Business Interruption cover, or because they have none at all.
Claims and Underwriting Exchange
A computerised register of information from insurance proposals, claims and renewal forms, shared by insurers as part of their campaign against fraud.
insurance-claim-underwritingMost people don’t realise that every insurance claim made is recorded in full, whether or not it’s successful. If you have to complete an insurance application form, you’ll find they want to know whether you’ve made a claim in the past three or five years.
False information given here, such as saying you haven’t made a claim within that time when actually you have, could result in a future claim being refused, even many years later.
Co-insurance
An arrangement by which an insurance policy is shared by more than one Insurer.
reinsurance-insurance-claimYour Insurer may, in certain circumstances, choose to spread the risk by reinsuring part of your policy with one or more other insurers. This doesn’t really affect you as the Policy Holder, since you’ll only deal with the Insurer you negotiated the policy with, but it’s as well to be aware of how any insurance policy is working.
If you need any help with your insurance claim, ring us on 0800 999 5679 or go to the Contact@ section of the website by following this link >>>

Insurance Claim Jargon – A Few Terms Explained

Like any sector, an insurance claim has its own jargon, often completely meaningless to the lay-person. At Allied Claims, we try always to talk in plain language to our clients and explain any technical terms, but it’s as well to know some of the terminology for any contact with other professionals, such as a Loss Adjuster.
Over the next few months, I’ll be giving a guide to some of the most important terms. Here are three to start.

Accidental Damage

insurance claim accidental damage
Unexpected and unplanned damage or harm caused to a property or a person.
This seems obvious, but “accidental” doesn’t have quite the usual meaning for the purposes of insurance. For damage to be judged accidental, it must be clear that you haven’t substantially contributed to the damage by action or negligence.
For example, suppose you’re carrying a sealed tin of paint through your house. You stumble, the tin flies out of your hand and hits the floor hard enough to burst open. Suddenly, you have a carpet that looks like a Jackson Pollock painting.
This is definitely accidental, and your insurance claim should be accepted. If, on the other hand, you were carrying an open tin of paint with no lid, the Loss Adjuster may judge the damage as partially your own fault and advise the insurance company to refuse the claim.

Aggregate Limit of Indemnity

The maximum amount an insurer will pay for all insurance claims over a set time frame.
Understandably, an insurance company isn’t willing to commit an unlimited amount of money per claim. Most people only ever need to make one or two claims on an insurance policy, if any, but there are exceptions.
Most policies will include an aggregate limit of indemnity, which will set a figure on the limit they’re liable to pay out in total over a set period. This is usually the lifetime of the policy, but occasionally a different time-scale is specified. If the combined total reaches this cut-off point, the insurance company will no longer pay your claim, however valid.

Assurance vs Insurance

Assurance is against something that will happen; insurance is against something that may happen.
insurance claim v assurance
Have you ever wondered why you have Life Assurance but Property Insurance? That’s because you will die (though hopefully not for a long time), whereas you may never need to make an insurance claim on your property.
This obviously affects the way in which the risk is calculated, although assessments will still be made to calculate how long you’re likely to live, and therefore how many payments the insurance company can expect to receive. Ultimately, though, they will need to pay out.
If you need any help with your insurance claim, ring us on 0800 999 5679 or go to the ‘Contact@ section of the website by following this link >>>

Insurance Claims and “The Insurance Act 2015”

Many experts consider The Insurance Act 2015, which comes into force later this month, and what it means for insurance claims, to be the biggest shake-up in insurance law for over a century. Its changes are aimed at businesses and corporations, rather than consumers, and most crucially changes the principles surrounding disclosure and penalties for non-disclosure.
The Act changes correct practice in dealing with insurance claims amongst other areas for insurance companies as well as for insured parties, but the most important things for businesses to be aware of are:
  • Instead of a vague obligation to reveal all circumstances affecting the insurer’s decision, the Act introduces a “duty of fair presentation”. This defines matters deemed to be known as those held in their records, those available to senior management and those available to a responsible person, such as a broker.
  • Previously, insurers could declare the policy invalid for any non-disclosure (e.g. if windows weren’t locked as declared, even if the insurance claim were for flood damage). The Act gives a sliding scale of remedies for insurers, depending on how serious the breach is, ranging from invaliding the whole policy to reducing the cover.
  • The Act specifies that, while a specific insurance policy may be agreed by both parties outside the terms specified in the Act, the insurance company must clearly explain the differences and their implications.
insurance claims commercial premisesThe Act makes it even more crucial than before that all relevant parties are involved in setting up a commercial insurance agreement, to ensure that nothing that should be disclosed is overlooked. This is always best undertaken with the advice and expertise of a professional insurance broker.
Allied Claims, who offer an expert loss assessor service specialise in property and business insurance claims, encounter situations that stretch the imagination, but that’s nothing to excuses given in other sectors. Here are just a few of the reasons we avoid car insurance:
  • “To avoid a collision I ran into the other car.”
  • “The telephone pole was approaching and I was attempting to swerve out of its way when it struck the front end of my car.”
  • “First car stopped suddenly, second car hit first car and a haggis ran into the rear of second car.”
Advice from Our Blog
Our blog gives regular updates on the insurance sector, though regrettably we’ve no advice on how to avoid being hit by a haggis.
If you want to know what insurance claims have in common with treating cancer, check out the post on the many uses of thermographyThermography, while our explanation of the Proximate Clause is essential reading to anyone who wants to make sure they have all eventualities covered in their policy.
Have a Great Month
We look forward to doing business with you or seeing you at networking events — or perhaps someone you know has a insurance claim. In the meantime, feel free to check out our website and read our blogs.