Category Archives: Insurance Claims

Keep Your Home Insurance Safe for Your Summer Holiday

Before long, many of us will be locking up our homes and leaving them for a week or a fortnight to enjoy a well-earned summer holiday. The last thing we want is to come back to is a burgled home.

Burglar in HouseYou don’t want to be burgled at all, but however many precautions you take, there’s no cast-iron assurance that the burglars won’t find a way in. You can make an insurance claim, of course — but the worst outcome of all would be for the insurer’s Loss Adjuster to turn you down for not being careful enough.

You can take the common-sense precautions, like securely locking all doors and windows and having a good alarm installed and set. There are things, though, that can alert burglars that the house is empty — post or newspapers piling up, for instance. Remember to cancel what you don’t need, but ideally it would be best to arrange for a friend, relative or neighbour to visit a few times while you’re away.

The Dangers of Social Media

There’s a new danger these days, however. We all like to let everyone know what a great holiday we’re having by posting our photos on Facebook or other social media. The problem is that burglars look at Facebook too, and often use it to find out which properties are going to be empty. You may as well make a public announcement that your home is available to burgle.

If this happens, you may find when you make your insurance claim that the Loss Adjuster refuses you on the grounds of the Reasonable Care clause in your insurance policy. Your social media posts are a matter of record, and the insurance company may well check to see if you’ve been unreasonably careless.

So don’t help the burglars, and don’t give the insurer a reason to reject your claim. Keep the Facebook posts till you’re safely home. Feel free to get in touch with us for more information.

Insurance Claims for Water Damage and Dry Rot

After the kind of cold spell delivered by the “Beast from the East”, the number of burst water pipes skyrockets. This is because pipes can crack when they freeze, and water starts to flood out when they thaw.

If your home or business premises has been flooded, it’s vital to get the drying-out process started as soon as possible, and your insurer’s Loss Adjuster should be arranging that. The trouble is that everyone else is claiming at the same time, and it could take up to four weeks from making your insurance claim till the Loss Adjuster gets round to dealing with it.

Even when the drying-out process does get under way, you need to be sure it’s being done properly. If only the most obvious damp places are dried, it could mean trouble further down the line.

Drying Out Your Building

If water has leaked upstairs and seeped through to the lower storey, the wooden joists under the upper floor and the timber frame in the partition walls are likely to be saturated. Similarly, if the floor at ground level has been flooded, the water will be lurking in the sub-floor void and affecting the timbers there. Failing to dry these out thoroughly can result in dry rot developing, which can create serious problems later.

Unfortunately, even when the Loss Adjuster does bring in a restoration company, they may just install heaters and dehumidifiers that only dry out the surfaces and interior finishes of walls and ceilings. You as policyholder need to insist on seeing a complete specification of the work any contractor is going to carry out as part of your insurance claim.

Of course, it’s not always easy for an individual policyholder to stand firm against the Loss Adjuster, especially if you’re not completely sure of their rights. And that’s where an independent Loss Assessor like Allied Claims comes in. Not only will we get things moving in the first place, but we’ll also insist on full specifications and make sure they cover the hidden damage, as well as the obvious.

If you need to make an insurance claim for water damage or dry rot, get in touch to find out how Allied Claims can help you.

The Loss Assessor’s Role in Your Business Interruption Claim

It’s devastating enough for your property to suffer fire, flood or theft, but far worse if the property is also your livelihood. If you suddenly lose either the property itself or any assets it contains, such as stock or machinery, it could mean the end of your business.

Fortunately, you have the option of taking out business interruption insurance. This provides cover till your business has recovered to where it was before the disaster. It enables you to recover losses to your gross profits, while also covering any additional costs — renting temporary premises, for instance.

There can still be problems with your insurance claim, though. You could find that the indemnity period on your policy isn’t long enough for you to cover your costs, or that your business is underinsured. These and other factors may mean that the insurer’s Loss Adjuster won’t award you the full amount you need — and that can be as devastating as not having cover at all.

How Can a Loss Assessor Help You?

Even if you’ve made sure your business interruption insurance is accurate and up to date, there are plenty of pitfalls you can encounter in making your insurance claim. And this is where using an independent Loss Assessor can be the difference between whether or not your business survives.

A Loss Assessor provides you with help that’s at least as expert as the insurer’s Loss Adjuster, whose job includes finding legitimate reasons not to pay you. The Loss Assessor will help you compile a detailed claim that accurately calculates your loss of profits. This will be based on an realistic projection of how your business would have performed over the relevant period, drawn from recent performance and genuine forecasts.

Loss of business through a disaster is always going to be a trying time, but you can recover from it if your business interruption claim is properly handled. Why not get in touch with us to see how we can help you?

Insurance Policies and the Average Clause

We hate it when anyone loses out on their insurance claim. During a single fortnight recently, two Policyholders we’re acquainted with lost large amounts — and the cause in both cases was the Average Clause in the Insurance Policy.

These people had £50,000 and £135,000 docked from their pay-outs — and not because the Loss Adjuster was being at all devious. It was because they hadn’t realised they needed to keep their policies up to date over the years, in particular updating the value of their properties. They’d simply renewed the policy as if the value hadn’t changed.

This is where the Average Clause comes in.

When you insure your assets, such as your home, one of the pieces of information you supply to the Insurer is the “insurance value”. This becomes the sum insured under your policy and the basis for calculating your Insurance Premium.

If the insurance value on your policy is lower than the actual value when you come to make an insurance claim, you won’t have paid enough on your premiums to cover the full value. Not unreasonably, Insurers are unwilling to cover the extra costs.

The Condition of Average

The Condition of Average is inserted into insurance policies to protect Insurers from this situation. Put most simply, it says that, for instance, if you’ve only declared 50% of the insurance value, you’ve only paid 50% of the premiums and the Loss Adjuster will thus only allow 50% of your claim.

To take an example, if the insurance policy covering a building is for £50,000 and the actual insurance value at the time of loss is £100,000, the proportion of Average will be just 50%. That means that, whether the loss is minor or total, you’ll only receive 50% of any claim you make.

In this situation, if you were claiming £50,000, with an excess of £250, the calculation would be:

  • 50% Average of a £50,000 claim = £25,000
  • Less policy excess of £250 = £24,750 pay-out
  • Total loss on £50,000 claim = £25,250

A loss of this size could be devastating, so if you’re unsure whether you’re up to date under the Average Clause, consult your insurance broker as soon as possible. Or you’re very welcome to get in touch with us for a chat about it.

Damage Mitigation — Why It’s Vital for Your Insurance Claim

Suppose you’ve been burgled. You find your door broken in and your most valuable possessions gone. You’d call the police, naturally, but would you then go off to work without bothering to get your door repaired enough to lock it?

Of course you wouldn’t, but it does happen, and anyone behaving like that is creating serious problems for themselves.

Damage mitigation is an important principle in both law and insurance claims. It means that, if you’ve suffered loss, you must take “reasonable action” to prevent further loss, otherwise either the courts or the insurance company’s Loss Adjuster can refuse to compensate you.

This isn’t bloody-mindedness. If, for example, you were to go straight out after a break-in and leave your home unsecured, it would be impossible to prove what had been taken in the original burglary and what had gone as a result of your negligence. In those circumstances, the Loss Adjuster might be justified in refusing to pay any of your claim.

The same applies if you leave your home or business premises at risk after a fire or flood, rather than undertaking essential structural work at the earliest possible opportunity. Damage mitigation is vital if your insurance claim is going to succeed — as well as being common sense.

How Can a Loss Assessor Help with Damage Mitigation?

There are many reasons why it’s vital to appoint a Loss Assessor as soon as you know you’ll be making an insurance claim, and damage mitigation is one of the most important.

A Loss Assessor will always work for you to get the compensation due to you — after all, they don’t get paid if you don’t. But it’s no good having a Loss Assessor if you’ve already failed to meet your damage mitigation obligations.

If you appoint a Loss Assessor at once, they’ll be able to see what needs to be done straight away, such as emergency work to prevent further damage to your property, and arrange for it to be done. They’ll also undertake a thorough survey of the damage, which can be used to support your claim for the losses you’ve suffered.

Appointing a Loss Assessor at the earliest opportunity could make the difference between success and failure in your insurance claim.

Remember to Have Your Chimneys Swept Before Winter Sets In

How long is it since you last cleaned your chimneys?

As winter draws in, there’s nothing like a roaring fire in the grate to make you warm and cosy in your home. It comes with a price, though, and that includes have the chimney swept on a regular basis. A blocked or dirty chimney can cause serious damage — perhaps even a fire that destroys your home.

This is because any soot left in the flue can ignite when it heats up, not to mention other debris, such as birds’ nests or spider webs, that might have found its way into the chimney. At best, that could damage your flue, and at worst it could burn your house down — and, if you try to make an insurance claim when you’ve neglected your chimney, the loss adjuster could turn you down.

A blocked flue can also release deadly carbon monoxide into your home, from the gases coming back down the chimney.

How Often Should a Chimney Be Swept?

The fuel used in the fireplace dictates how often your chimney needs to be swept. A coal-fire chimney should be swept at least twice a year and a wood-fire chimney quarterly when the fireplace is in use. If you’re using smokeless, gas or oil fuels, you’re usually safe keeping it to once a year — but remember that all gas-related work should be done by a Gas Safe engineer. Always be safe with your gas appliances.

A few basic safeguards will help you enjoy your fire securely and make certain that, if you do suffer a fire, the loss adjuster will have no reason to refuse your claim:

  • Have your chimney swept before you start using the fireplace.
  • Keep the grate clean, making sure it’s free from ash and soot.
  • Avoid using damp wood, as cooler smoke creates more ash.
  • Using a fireguard in front of an open fire can prevent sparks flying out from the embers.
  • Don’t leave a fire burning unattended — extinguish it before you leave the house or go to bed.
  • If you’re using wood, don’t leave your supply too close to the fire, as it could ignite.
  • And — invest in a carbon monoxide alarm. Your life and your family’s lives might depend on it.

Chimney sweeps used to be considered very lucky. Maybe that’s because people back then realised that their job could save lives.

Are Your Rodding? Your Downpipes, That Is

It happens every Autumn. The falling leaves and twigs get blown about and end up in your gutters and downpipes, stopping the rainwater flowing away as it’s meant to. If the debris isn’t cleared, you could end up with an over-flowing pipe and flooding, and it could even damage the structure of your house.

You need to get your downpipes rodded.

This isn’t just because it’s a hassle to repair the damage, though. It’s actually a condition of many insurance policies that you have your gutters cleared and your downpipes rodded at least once a year, and your insurance claim may be refused otherwise.

The catch is that you have to be able to prove to the insurance company’s loss adjuster that it’s been done. If you’re doing it yourself, take pictures of yourself rodding — though be sure you stay safe if you’re taking selfies up on a ladder.

If you’re hiring a roofer, a receipt is essential. All too often, clients tell me they’ve had their pipes rodded, but they paid cash in hand with nothing written down. It may be tempting to save money that way, but it could end up costing you far more if you have to make an insurance claim.

Look After Your Roof

The guttering and downpipes need annual attention, at a minimum, but that’s not the limit to the attention your roof requires. A leaking roof can do untold damage to your home and, again, the loss adjuster is likely to refuse your claim if you can’t demonstrate that you’ve looked after your roof.

If you have a flat roof, in particular, there’s likely to be a clause in your insurance policy that you must have it maintained every ten years. Whatever type of roof you have, though, it’s vital to keep it in good condition and hang onto the proof. Otherwise, you may end up having to pay for the total cost of repairing your flooded home.

 

The Causes, Symptoms and Cures for Subsidence

Any suspicion of subsidence strikes fear into the heart of homeowners, and for good reason, as it can mean a substantial repair bill. As long as you don’t neglect the problem, it should be covered by your insurance policy, but it’s important not to give the Loss Adjuster any chance to refuse your claim.

Subsidence is when the building’s foundations slowly sink, and is most often caused by nearby trees and shrubs sucking moisture from the soil, leaking drains softening the ground, or old mine-workings beneath the house.

Although subsidence could happen to any building, the biggest risk is for Victorian and Edwardian homes, which tend to have very shallow foundations.  There’s also a particular risk if the house is built on clay-rich soil — which accounts for a good deal of the South-East.

Unless there’s a specific cause, such as a leaking drain or mine-workings, it usually starts with trees or shrubs sucking up the moisture from the soil. As the clay dries, a “shrink-swell” effect hardens and cracks it, and the foundations start to sink.

Subsidence is usually combined in your insurance policy with heave, a separate but related problem. This is caused by the ground becoming saturated, lifting up and sometimes sideways, and can result in symptoms similar to subsidence.

Identifying, Preventing and Fixing Subsidence

The most obvious signs of subsidence are:

  • Cracks appearing in brickwork and plaster, especially if they’re wider at the top.
  • Doors and windows sticking with no obvious reason.
  • Ripples in the wallpaper when there’s no sign of damp.

Cracks can also be caused by the house settling, especially if it’s new, but if they keep widening the chances are it’s subsidence. If you notice any of these issues, it’s important to inform your insurer at once.

It’s also advisable to have it looked at by a qualified surveyor. If there is subsidence, it may be possible to solve it by removing tree roots or repairing a leaking drain, but it’s likely your home will have to be underpinned, which involves adding extra support for your foundations. This should normally be covered by your insurance policy, but it may involve an excess up to £1,000.

In addition, insurers often regard an underpinned house to be at greater risk, so you’ll face higher premiums. It makes sense, therefore, to prevent subsidence from happening and avoid having to make an insurance claim. Precautions to take include:

  • Before you buy a house, check the surveyor’s report for any signs of subsidence.
  • Don’t have trees or shrubs closer than 5-10 metres to the house.
  • Prune the branches of any trees regularly.
  • Make sure your pipes and drainage systems are well maintained, so they don’t leak into the ground.

Legal Expenses Cover and Your Home Insurance

Most insurance claims are straightforward. If you’ve had a fire, your home’s been flooded or your roof has been blown off, there shouldn’t be a problem claiming — although the company’s Loss Adjuster may still find a flaw in your claim.

Sometimes, though, an insurance claim can be a lot more complex. You could find yourself having to seek legal advice, or even pursuing or defending a civil action.

This is a problem, since solicitors don’t come cheap. If you have legal expenses cover as part of your insurance policy, though, both legal advice and costs in a civil case would be covered.

How Does Legal Expenses Cover Protect You?

Having legal expenses cover can protect you against legal expenses in a wide range of situations, including:

  • Personal injury or death — If someone is claiming compensation for an injury sustained on your property, your legal expenses will usually be covered up to a specified amount.
  • Purchase or sale of property — You’re protected against expenses from contractual disputes during the sale of a property — with an estate agent or removal company, for instance.
  • Property disputes — The costs of a dispute over boundaries, noisy neighbours, damage to property and similar causes will be covered.
  • Consumer disputes — If you buy, sell or hire goods in your home, your expenses for disputes are covered.
  • Employment disputes — Legal expenses cover can pay the costs for an employment dispute, such as unfair dismissal, involving a tribunal.
  • Tax investigation — You can claim legal costs involved with HMRC investigating your tax affairs.

Legal expenses cover may already be included in your home insurance policy, but if you don’t know it’s there you could lose out. On the other hand, if you find your policy doesn’t include it, perhaps it’s time to rethink your home insurance cover.

Seven Things That Could Invalidate Your Building Insurance Claim

  1. Leaving Your Home Empty — If you leave your home unoccupied for more than thirty consecutive days, the insurer could refuse to pay on any insurance claim you might make, whether that’s fire, flood or burglary. Make sure you arrange cover for your home to be empty, whether as a one-off or ongoing.
  1. DIY Disasters — DIY can save you money, but it can be very expensive too. If your insurance policy doesn’t include accidental damage, you could end up having to foot the bill for drilling through the water pipes. Make sure you’re covered before starting.
  1. Wilful Damage — Whether it’s you or a visitor to your home that’s responsible, most insurance policies don’t cover wilful damage. That includes unruly guests at a party, for example. So make sure you trust the people you invite into your home.
  1. Neglect — There are always maintenance jobs to keep your home in good shape, whether that’s clearing your guttering or having your wiring checked regularly. If you don’t bother and it leads to a disaster, your insurer’s Loss Adjuster might refuse your claim, so make sure you keep your home in good repair.
  1. Home Improvement — It might seem odd that home improvement can be a problem, but you could end up being underinsured. If you haven’t informed your insurer about a new extension or loft conversion, they won’t be covered in any valuation for repairs, so get everything sorted out before you start the improvements.
  1. Vermin — Creatures like rats or mice can cause substantial damage, such as chewing through wires, and this may not be covered by your insurance policy. Check your policy for what’s covered, and deal with any sign of vermin promptly — most local councils have a pest control department.
  1. Not Informing About Regular Guests — If you regularly take in guests, for instance as an Airbnb host or short-term rentals, you must inform your insurer, or your insurance policy may be invalid under non-disclosure rules. Check with your insurer what implications any arrangements will have on your policy.