Whether it’s cutting off utility lines, damaging garden walls and ornaments, smashing windows or causing leaks, homeowners often suffer damage to their property at the hands of their neighbours. You might think their insurance policy is bound to cover this — but that’s not always true.
It seems quite straightforward. If your neighbour is responsible for damage to your property, they should be liable for putting it right. In fact, this depends entirely on the circumstances.
Just as the loss adjuster could refuse to pay out on your insurance claim if there’s something wrong with it, the same can happen with your neighbour’s policy, even if the damage is to your property. For instance, their loss adjuster could decide a leak was caused by poor maintenance to their home and refuse to pay.
That will leave you with the choice of trying to get your neighbour to pay out of their own pocket or trying to claim on your own home insurance policy — assuming, that is, that neighbour damage is covered. The key here is “insured perils”. Home insurance policies generally include these, referring to certain events such as fire and flood. If the cause of the damage can be attributed to an “insured peril”, then you may be in luck.
It’s also worth checking whether your policy has accidental damage cover, which may cover this sort of situation. Some policies have it as standard, but if not you can usually add it on for a premium.
Neighbour Negligence and Record Keeping
Even assuming your neighbour’s insurance policy does cover the damage, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that they were responsible for it, whether through negligence or simply because the fault began on their property.
Prevention is better than cure, and assuming you have reasonable neighbours, they may be quite willing to fix the problem but simply not have noticed. So let your neighbours know about any damage you spot, and you could not only save yourself a lot of hassle in trying to get the repairs paid for, but also avoid the bad feelings that arise from a dispute over money.
However, it’s also vital to start keeping records of any damage as soon as it starts to develop, including notes and photographic evidence, all carefully dated. That way, if your neighbour still fails to take action after you’ve warned them, this will help you demonstrate that they were negligent.
And, just in case none of this works, check your own insurance policy.