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Top 5 Building Insurance Claims

Most people who own a property, whether it’s their home or a business premises, have building insurance for it. In fact, it’s normally compulsory if you have a mortgage on the building — otherwise, it’s just overwhelmingly sensible.

A normal building insurance policy covers a wide range of mishaps. Accidental damage is the most common insurance claim, but others are frequently found. Here are the top five:

  • Accidental Damage — this could be anything from the kids kicking a football through the window to cracking the wash-basin by dropping something into it.
  • Weather Damage — extreme weather can damage your property either directly, such as a storm blowing off tiles, or indirectly, such as a tree being blown onto your roof.
  • Water Escaping — the most common reason for this is pipes being allowed to freeze and burst.
  • Burglary — a break-in doesn’t only affect the stolen possessions, you may also need to claim to repair a smashed window or replace a door.
  • Malicious Damage — this may occur during a burglary, but you could also find yourself the victim of vandalism.

Prevention Is Better than Cure

Most building insurance policies allow you to claim for all these and more, from fire damage to the effects of freezing weather. However, the insurance company’s Loss Adjuster will be on the look-out for any negligence on your part that may invalidate your claim. The best solution is to give no reason for this, and here are few of the most common examples:

  • Improving the standard of your locks and installing a burglar alarm can significantly reduce the risk of being burgled, but if it does happen the Loss Adjuster would find it difficult to turn down your claim.
  • If you have a chimney, it’s vital to keep it swept. This will reduce the risk of fire, as well as satisfying your insurer.
  • Leaving your gutters blocked with dirt or leaves can cause water damage and could leave you at risk of your claim being rejected.
  • Freezing weather can cause a range of problems, from structural damage to burst water pipes. These may be covered by your building insurance, but it’s far better to prepare before the weather turns cold.

You can claim for many things on your building insurance, but it’s even better to reduce your chances of needing to claim. And, in any case, your precautions mean the Loss Adjuster will have no ammunition for rejecting your claim.

What Is Non-Standard Risk?

In some circumstances, a normal home insurance policy may not be enough to cover your property. Reasons for this might include a history of flooding or subsidence, or that you’ve been declared bankrupt at some point.

These are defined as a non-standard risk, and the company’s Loss Adjuster may refuse your insurance claim if you only have a standard policy.

Examples of Non-Standard Risk

  • Properties with a history of flooding or in areas affected by extreme weather. You can get help from the government’s Flood Re scheme.
  • Properties that have been monitored for subsidence, landslip or heave, or had their foundations underpinned or reinforced.
  • If your home is used as a business property, as opposed to informal working from home.
  • If your home is going to be left unoccupied for a long period — usually over 30 days, but it’s important to check this.
  • If any occupant has ever been declared bankrupt, has unspent or pending criminal convictions, or has ever been refused insurance or had terms imposed.
  • A property whose roof is made of materials including asbestos, corrugated iron, felt on timber, fibreglass, glass, metal, plastic, shingle or thatch.
  • A property whose exterior walls are made from materials including timber, asbestos, metal, fibreglass, glass, plastic or prefabricated materials. If any part of your property is built from less usual materials, check with your insurance company.

Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list. Always make sure you check your policy carefully and declare any circumstance which could be relevant, or the Loss Adjuster might turn you down if you need to make an insurance claim.

Does Your Home Insurance Cover Neighbour Damage?

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.

Building Insurance and Subsidence

Subsidence doesn’t only involve spectacular holes that make the news. Any building in an area where the soil has a high clay content could be at risk of subsidence.

Of course, insurance companies know all about this, and if your home is at higher than normal risk of subsidence, your insurance policy will include a higher excess than normal. In fact, most policies specify a higher excess for subsidence than other risks.

Avoiding Subsidence

If you live in an area like this, the best way to avoid having to negotiate with the Loss Adjuster for a subsidence insurance claim is not to plant large trees or shrubs near the building. However, if there are already trees when you move in, you may need the Council’s permission to cut them down, so you’ll need to talk to them first.

It’s not always just a matter of cutting down the obvious trees, though. Allied Claims have encountered cases when repairs have been made only for other trees to cause more subsidence. In any case, trees aren’t the only reason for subsidence. Leaking drains beneath or near the house can also be a cause.

After subsidence has occurred and been confirmed, the first thing is for the cause to be determined. This is likely to involve a period of monitoring, which can be for as long as eighteen months, before any repairs are made. Only when you know all the facts can Allied Claims present your case to the Loss Adjuster.

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.

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 >>>

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 >>>