Tag Archives: when to call a loss assessor

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.

 

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.

The Proximate Clause in an Insurance Claim, understand this?

Anyone who’s read through the small print on their insurance policy, especially if their insurance claim is rejected, will know how incomprehensible it can be. Unfortunately, it’s essential to understand, and nothing more than the Proximate Clause.
What Is the Proximate Clause?
A key principle of insurance, the Proximate Clause is used by Loss Adjustersto assess the exact cause of the damage or loss and determine whether that particular cause is covered by the policy.”
insurance claimTwo key court judgements* illustrate the kind of distinctions made. In both cases, a wall was blown down in a gale after having been previously damaged. In one, where the wall was blown down shortly after being struck by lightning, the lightning was ruled to have been the cause, whereas in the other, where the wall was damaged by fire a few days before being blown down, the fire wasn’t considered the cause.
The distinction here is because, in the second case, the wall stood for several days after the fire, and it was only the gale that made it collapse. In the first, though, it could be assumed that the gale might not have had such an effect without the lightning-strike.
How Might a Proximate Clause Affect You?
A decision by the Loss Adjuster on what’s counts as a proximate cause could depend on what’s actually covered by the policy when making that insurance claim. For instance, it may seem reasonable for an upper-floor office not to be insured against flooding.
Water damage insurance claimHowever, if the ground floor is damaged by flooding to the extent that the whole building has to be closed, the company using the upper floor may not receive compensation for loss of business because the situation was caused by flooding.
On the other hand, consider a case where a fire in a plastics factory results in particles spread by the wind damaging the stock of a nearby clothing factory. You may expect this to be covered by the plastic factory’s fire policy, but the Loss Adjuster could consider the actual cause to be wind-borne pollution, which isn’t covered.
Know Your Risks
The moral? It’s vital to make sure any insurance policy you take out covers all possible proximate causes if you need to make that insurance claim. Nothing should be ruled out without careful examination.
This is one of many reasons why it’s essential to consult an insurance broker, who’ll help you sort this out, and to use a Loss Assessor for your claim. If you need help with a claim, follow this link >>>.
* Roth v South Easthope Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Co. (1918) and Gasgarth v Law Union Insurance Co. (1876)

Thermography — Saving Lives and Saving Your Insurance Claim

Thermography is one of the wonders of modern science. It’s a technology which can save your life can also save you from losing out on your insurance claim. Thermography is among the tools offered by Allied Claims to make sure you’re getting what’s due to you, but it has a wide range of other applications.
What Is it?
It is a type of thermal imaging, which can produce a picture showing any object that’s hotter than what surrounds it. Everything produces heat in the form of infrared radiation and, although it can’t be seen by the human eye, thermographic imaging equipment can pick it up and use the data to create a computer-generated image of the object.
thermographyUnlike many forms of imaging, thermography is 100% safe. X-ray imaging, for instance, involves firing X-rays at you, and although the risk is usually small and acceptable, there is a risk. This system only passively measures what’s already there and is no more dangerous than a camera.
Uses
Thermography has been around for many decades and is put to a wide range of uses, from military surveillance to allowing firefighters to “see” in a smoke-filled building. One of its main applications, though, is for medical diagnosis, where its safety makes it particularly useful.
Medical thermography works because many issues inside the body, such as tumours and inflamed blood vessels, are marginally hotter than the surrounding tissue. The small difference is hard to measure by conventional methods, but it shows up on a thermographic image. So, it can be used to diagnose cancers, deep-vein thrombosis, and back issues. It’s even used in dentistry.
How Thermography Can Save Your Insurance Claim
You may know there’s been damage done to your property, but how can you be sure you’ve found every issue? The problem is that, if you don’t include hidden damage in the claim you give your Loss Adjuster, it can be extremely difficult to convince the insurance company to pay for it later.
thermography
Kitchen Water Damage

In the same way that the method is safe in medical diagnosis, it can be used to see the unknown in your property with no risk at all of causing damage. It can pick up places where heat is being lost, or where insulation is wet or missing, and detects water damage or mould. It can also pinpoint electrical hotspots and refrigerant leaks.

Detecting hidden damage before you present your claim to the Loss Adjuster could potentially save you tens of thousands of pounds. To take advantage of this wonder of modern science, just follow this link >>>

Insurance Claim and Occupancy Clause on Household Policies

Water damage insurance claim

Before you make an insurance claim on any insurance policy you have, it’s essential to read through all those fine-print clauses. Yes, it might be boring, but not nearly as bad as being hit by a restriction you weren’t expecting when you try to make a claim.

A case in point is the Occupancy Clause.

Most home insurance policies, and the majority of policies for commercial properties, include a clause that addresses the “occupancy issue”. The exact wording will vary from policy to policy, but what they all say boils down to stipulating a maximum length of time the property can be left unoccupied, if you need to make an insurance claim is usually 30 days.

If you’re intending to leave the property unoccupied for longer than this, the Insurer must be notified, preferably in writing or by email, and specified actions must be taken by the Policy holder. The most common are that the heating must be kept on, bi-weekly visits must be made, and that an alarm must be installed.

However, it’s vital to check exactly what your policy says and make sure you know what needs to be done, in addition to informing the Insurer if the property is going to be empty for more than 30 days.

This can apply to any circumstances when the property will be unoccupied, but it’s particularly relevant to anyone letting out a property. The landlord must notify the Insurer as soon as the tenant has moved out. In many cases, the landlord will be making repairs or decorating before the new tenant moves in, and this can easily stretch out beyond 30 days so watch out if you are about to make an insurance claim.

Whether your insurance is for a domestic or a commercial property, make sure you know your obligations under the Occupancy Clause. If you don’t, there’s a good chance that you’ll be left without a penny if you have to make a claim.

When to Call a Loss Assessor?

When to Call a Loss Assessor?

If you’ve suffered damage, whether it’s from fire, water or accident, you’ll need to make a claim on your insurance, but at what stage of the process should you call a loss assessor?

The answer — as soon as possible.

Why Do I Need a Loss Assessor?

If you’ve ever made an insurance claim, you’ll know all about the long forms and small print. A reputable insurance company will play fair with you, but they’re not in the business of handing out money they don’t need to. If you lose your way in the maze, you could find your claim rejected.

A loss assessor, such as Allied Claims, knows all about how the insurance industry works and how to avoid the pitfalls. Unlike the loss adjustor, who works for the insurance company, the loss assessor is wholly and completely your advocate and has a vested interest in getting you the best pay-out possible. If you don’t get paid, nor does the loss assessor.

Isn’t It Better to Try by Myself First?

Some people assume they can deal with the claim themselves and only fall back on a loss assessor if they run into trouble. That’s not a good strategy, though. If you make a mistake in your claim and it’s rejected, it would be difficult for even a loss assessor to sort it out.

The time to get the loss assessor involved is the moment you know you’re going to be making a claim.

Can’t I Save Money by Doing Without a Loss Assessor?

Quite the reverse. The service is completely free to you*, since the loss assessor is paid by the insurance company as part of the settlement.

In fact, by using a loss assessor you’re likely to save money. Quite apart from the risk of having your claim rejected and being faced with the repair bills, doing it yourself means setting up meetings with both the loss adjustor and anyone offering a quote. This is likely to be during working hours, so you may have to take time off work.

Alternatively, you could have your own loss assessor doing all that, leaving you free to get on with your life while your claim is being put through by an expert.

So How Can I Contact Allied Claims?

You can call us on 0800 999 5679, check out our website, or watch our video. But call as soon as you know you have a claim.

* Excludes policy excess.