Safeguard Your Business with Key Person Insurance

Any business, but especially a small one, can be vulnerable to losing a key person in its operations, whether permanently or for an extended period. This could be the owner or founder, but equally it could be someone in a crucial position who has knowledge and experience that would be difficult to replace.

Losing a person like this to serious illness or death can be terminal for the business. If this is the owner, for instance, it could prove impossible to afford the costs of bringing someone in to run the company. This would be devastating both for the lives of the owner’s family and for employees and customers.

This is why insurance companies offer Key Person Insurance (traditionally referred to as Key Man Insurance). This means that, if the crucial person dies or is incapacitated, the business can make an insurance claim to help it survive the crisis.

How Does Key Person Insurance Work?

Anyone involved in the business can be designated a Key Person, and you can have as many as you like — though, of course, a separate premium will have to be paid for each. If this person should unexpectedly die or develop an illness recognised by the insurer’s Loss Adjuster as a critical illness, the business can make an insurance claim.

The normal result will be a lump-sum pay out. This would, for instance, allow you to recruit a new person with the required expertise, or perhaps pay for training an existing employee to fill the role.

It’s important to be clear exactly what the policy does and doesn’t cover. For example, a policy may be just for critical illness, or it may offer life and critical illness cover. In the latter case, it’s also important to bear in mind that this isn’t the same thing as personal life cover. The Key Person may need a separate life policy, especially if they have a family. Your insurance broker should explain exactly what you’re insured for.

Do You Have Insurance Cover for Non-Forced Entry to your Home or Office?

There are many circumstances in which you may give your keys to someone providing a service. This could be a cleaner, a babysitter or a builder, plumber or electrician doing work in your home or office.

Most of the time, these people are completely reliable, but it only takes one exception to cause you trouble. Can you imagine coming back to find someone you trusted has made off with your property? Could it get worse?

It could. If you try to make an insurance claim for the loss, you’re likely to find it rejected. This is because the insurance company’s Loss Adjuster will point to it being a “non-forced entry”, which isn’t covered by most domestic or commercial property insurance.

Is There a Way of Getting Covered?

Any company that sends employees into customers’ homes should cover this risk in their insurance policy — but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll have done so. One of the checks you can do when choosing a service provider is to ask to see their policy.

Even so, it can still go wrong, since the policy is only any good if the company is paying the premiums at the time of the incident. The alternative is to discuss the matter with your insurance broker, who should be able to find you a policy that does cover this kind of insurance claim.

Even then, though, you aren’t home and dry. In order to ensure the Loss Adjuster won’t refuse your claim, it’s important to notify the insurer whenever you’re going to give a service provider access to your home. This is a requirement of all policies that cover non-forced entry.

This is a very real issue. In a recent case Allied Claims is aware of, a homeowner ended up out of pocket by £48,000 after being burgled during renovations, because the insurer hadn’t been informed. Be sure you don’t make such an expensive lapse.

Should I Claim on My Building or Contents Insurance?

If your home or business property has suffered from fire, flood, criminal or accidental damage, shouldn’t it be covered by the insurance policy you’ve taken out? Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple.

There are two types of property insurance — building insurance and contents insurance. If you’re fully insured, you should have both, but you have to make an insurance claim under the correct policy. If you get it wrong, the insurer’s Loss Adjuster will turn down your claim.

It should be easy. Building insurance is for the building itself, while contents insurance is for anything you might put into it. There are grey areas, though, and the Loss Adjuster may have their own interpretation.

What Problems Might I Encounter?

The building insurance is normally interpreted as including fixtures, such as doors or water pipes, while contents insurance would include furniture, along with other movable possession. Some items, though, could come under either category, depending on how the Loss Adjuster interprets them.

Carpets, for instance, are fixed to the floor and should therefore be fixtures. However, this could depend on whether they were in place when you bought the house, or whether you’ve had them laid yourself. Even laminate flooring can in some circumstances be interpreted as a movable item, despite being glued and fixed under the skirting board.

This applies all over the house. If you have fitted units in your rooms, they would normally be regarded as fixtures, but you can’t count on it. Again, this may depend on whether you’ve installed them yourself.

So what can you do about it? Well, you could check with your Insurer, who should be up front about their interpretation of your policy. Allied Claims would recommend, though, that you arrange your policy through an insurance broker, who’ll clarify everything, rather than try to do it yourself.

And, of course, use a Loss Assessor when you need to make an insurance claim.

At What Stage of an Insurance Claim Should You Call a Loss Assessor?

If your residential or commercial property suffers damage from fire, flood or accident, or if your possessions are stolen in a burglary, you’ll normally need to start an insurance claim straight away. It might seem a no-brainer that the insurance company will pay for any repairs or replacements you need, but once you’ve negotiated with their Loss Adjuster, you’ll see it’s a lot more complicated.

Though the Loss Adjuster won’t be trying to cheat you out of your rights, part of their job involves saving the company money they’re not obliged to pay out. This means they’ll scrutinise your claim for faults and inconsistencies — and they’re usually very good at their job.

The solution is to appoint an independent Loss Assessor. Loss Assessors, such as Allied Claims, are insurance professionals who are at least as expert as the Loss Adjuster. However, the Loss Assessor is entirely on your side. They’ll handle all negotiations with the insurance company, as well as liaising with contractors and obtaining quotes.

Isn’t It Better to Try Yourself First?

Many people with an insurance claim might assume the best strategy is to do it themselves and only call in a Loss Assessor if something goes wrong. After all, it might be perfectly straightforward.

That could be true — if you’re very lucky. The reality is that insurance claims are rarely that simple. This means that by doing it yourself you risk making an error in your claim which the Loss Adjuster will pick up on and use as a reason to refuse your claim or reduce the pay-out. The Loss Assessor you then appoint will try to get the decision reversed, but that can be an uphill struggle.

The best way to avoid this is to appoint a Loss Assessor the moment you know you’re going to be making a claim. This way, they can help you prepare your claim with no loopholes, making it unlikely you’ll be turned down. Why not get in touch with us to find out how Allied Claims can help you?

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.

Don’t Get Caught Not Claiming for the Hidden Damage — Use Thermography

If your home or business property has suffered from fire or flooding, it’s difficult to be sure you’ve found all the damage when you make your insurance claim. Some problems can stay hidden for years, and when they emerge, it won’t be easy to get the Loss Adjuster to accept liability under your policy.

If you use thermography, though, this won’t be a problem. Thermography is a non-invasive thermal imaging system that can show up the hidden damage. It has a wide variety of uses, from night surveillance and leading firefighters round smoke-filled buildings to diagnosing cancers, as well as in insurance.

Thermography is completely safe because it’s an entirely passive imaging system. Whereas a technique like X-rays actually fires radiation at the subject, thermography simply reads the infra-red heat every object gives off and builds up an image.

How Can Thermography Help Your Insurance Claim?

Employing a thermography scan before you make your insurance claim can identify a wide range of issues you might never have suspected otherwise. Either fire or flooding, for instance, can result in electrical hotspots, which will cause trouble somewhere down the line, or damage to the insulation.

Water damage can also cause mould, which not only undermines the building’s structure, but can also be a health hazard. If you identify any of these through thermography, the Loss Adjuster will have little choice but to include them in your insurance claim.

Even if you’re not making a claim, having a thermographic scan of the building could save you money in the long run. Many of these problems, from hotspots to damaged insulation, can occur without a traumatic event, and fixing them could mean a substantial improvement on the energy efficiency of the building.

At Allied Claims, we offer thermography to our clients, and we’d strongly advise you to use it if you’ve had a fire or flooding incident at your home or business premises. Feel free to get in touch with us if you need to know more.

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.