Tag Archives: Loss Assessor

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 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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.