Tag Archives: Property Insurance Claims Management

Building or Contents — Which Policy Is Which?

An insurance policy is one of those things most of us recognise the importance of having in place — but, because we hope never to need it, we tend not to think about it much. If you do have to make an insurance claim, though (whether it’s due to fire, flooding or theft), it’s vital to know what you’re claiming.

Whether you have one or two policies for your home, they should cover both building and for contents — and, if they don’t, get onto your insurance broker straight away. Any specific loss or damage will need to be made under one or the other of these, and claiming under the wrong one could see you turned down by the insurer’s loss adjuster.

In addition, you need to make sure you have sufficient cover. This is vital at the moment, since prices have risen sharply due to Covid, Brexit and global supply issues. If you haven’t reviewed your level of cover, you could find yourself having to pay a share of the repairs yourself.

So Which Is Which?

You’d think it would be simple enough to make your insurance claim. If something is a fixture, it should come under your building insurance, whereas anything movable should come under your contents insurance.

The trouble is that, like so much in insurance, it’s not always straightforward. Any given loss adjuster might have individual views about what’s a fixture and what isn’t. For instance, where do you stand with a carpet? It’s fixed down — but, if you had the carpet laid yourself, it could be interpreted as contents.

This applies to a much wider range of items than you might expect. Certainly, if you lose your collection of original Star Wars figures, that’s going to come under contents, as will movable furniture. What about fitted units, though? Or TV antennae on the roof? Or even laminate flooring? These can all be open to interpretation.

If you claim under the wrong policy, you could see your claim thrown out, while if you haven’t reviewed your level of cover, in the light of price rises, the pay-out may not be enough. It’s well worth reviewing your insurance policies straight away. And, if you do have to make a claim, call Allied Claims and leave it to our expertise to make sure you get everything you’re entitled to.


Disclaimer

All content within this column is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the Insurance advice of your own broker or any other Insurance professional. Allied Claims is not responsible or liable for any decisions made by a user based on the content of this site.

Allied Claims is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites. Always consult your own Insurance broker if you’re in any way concerned about your insurance cover.


Comprehensive or Third Party — Which Type of Car Insurance Do You Need?

If you’re driving a car (or even keeping it parked on the road) you’re legally obliged to insure it. Only a car that’s being kept on private property and not driven doesn’t need insurance, though then you’ll need to fill out a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). Failure to insure your car will result in a fine, and you could be disqualified from driving.

The most common type of vehicle insurance is comprehensive car cover (sometimes known as “fully comprehensive”). This will in most cases cover an insurance claim for damage and injury involving both you and your vehicle and any third party involved. It will also cover accidental damage to your car, fire, theft and vandalism, and any items stolen from or damaged in the vehicle.

There are a few things not covered by comprehensive insurance. Typically, accidents while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or without a driving licence aren’t covered, and nor is theft that results from your carelessness. If you leave your car unlocked, for instance, the loss adjuster will refuse your claim. You may also not be covered if you’re driving another car, although this is something you’ll need to check on your policy.

Do You Need Comprehensive Cover?

If you’re going to be driving regularly, comprehensive cover is definitely advisable, but it isn’t actually compulsory. You can legally drive with third party car insurance, which covers damage or injury you cause to other people and their property, but not yourself. It also doesn’t cover an insurance claim for theft or damage to your car, though you can take out an intermediate type of policy known as third party, fire and theft.

So why would you choose this? Well, if you only very occasionally drive your car, it may be worth going for this restricted but cheaper cover. Alternatively, your car may have a low market value, or you may be able to get it repaired cheaply. In these cases, comprehensive insurance could actually cost more than repairing or writing off your vehicle at your own expense.

As might be expected, third party cover is traditionally cheaper than comprehensive — but there’s a problem. Third party is often chosen by high-risk drivers, such as those who have just passed their test, so that insurance companies find themselves paying out more frequently, which in turn pushes up the cost. The gap in price between comprehensive and third party is closing.

So which should you choose? If you’re a frequent driver or have a high-value car, then comprehensive is a no-brainer. Otherwise, Allied Claims would advise you to get quotes for both options and compare them — or, even better, go through an insurance broker who could make your options clear.

 

On Your Bike — but Only if It’s Insured

Cycling is a big thing nowadays. Whether the priority is getting fit, saving money or saving the planet, we’re all being encouraged to get out of our cars and onto our bikes.

The problem is that this also makes your bike an attractive target for thieves. And, while you automatically insure your car, an alarming number of bikes may not be covered — and perhaps you won’t find out till the loss adjuster turns down your insurance claim.

Just as bicycle sales went through the roof during the pandemic, so bicycle thefts have also soared. The figure for 2021 was 25% higher than the previous year and 40% higher than in 2019 — and the trend seems to be continuing this year, with the figures 56% higher in the first two months than over the same period last year.

This is a nationwide problem, but certain hotspots for bicycle theft have emerged:

  1. Southwest London
  2. East London
  3. Southeast London
  4. Bristol
  5. Edinburgh
  6. North London
  7. Cambridge
  8. Brighton
  9. Southampton
  10. Kingston-Upon-Thames
  11. Newcastle
  12. Bournemouth
  13. Oxford
  14. Manchester

Is Your Bike Insured?

Many owners assume that their bike will be covered by their home contents. It may be — but not necessarily, so you don’t want to find out that it isn’t insured when you have to make an insurance claim.

For a start, only bikes worth less than £350 will be automatically included in your policy, and even then not all insurers offer this. In any case, many bikes cost far more than that. In 2021, the average value of stolen bikes was £950.

Even if you have a cheaper bike, it’s vital to check that it’s included in your policy. If not, then you’ll need to get it added as a specified item to your cover, before the bicycle thieves strike.

This becomes even more crucial if you have a bike that’s worth £5,000 or more, which isn’t that unusual these days. These must be specified in your insurance policy, and there are likely to be clauses specifying security. For instance, the insurer may insist on the type of lock you use for your bike, and you’ll need to inform them where you keep your bike overnight. Failure to meet these requirements could see the loss adjuster turning down your claim.

If you have a bike, especially a valuable one or multiple bikes for your family, Allied Claims would strongly recommend that you check your insurance policy to make sure it’s covered. It would still be frustrating if the bicycle thieves should strike, but at least you won’t be out of pocket.

Fires and Floods Aren’t Picky — Even if You’re a Tenant

One of the things that continues to amaze us is the number of tenants who seem to assume that fires and floods stop to check the ownership of a home they’re threatening. “I’m a tenant, so it’s not going to happen to me.”

OK, maybe no-one consciously thinks that, but many certainly behave as if they do. The reality is that they probably assume any insurance claim they might need to make will be covered by the landlord’s insurance, and they don’t discover their error till it’s too late.

Landlords usually have comprehensive landlord’s insurance for their properties. This means that, if a disaster such fire, flood or criminal damage occurs to their property, the insurer’s loss adjuster will be likely to cover the costs of repair or rebuilding.

It’s improbable, though, that the tenant’s possessions will also be covered, and that means the tenant will most probably have to pay for replacement out of their own money — unless they’ve specifically taken out contents insurance.

How Widespread Is the Problem?

You might assume that it’s only a few tenants who make this kind of mistake, but the figures are staggering. A YouGov survey a few years ago found that 54% of people living in rented accommodation have no contents insurance.

On the other hand, 16% said that in the past twelve months they’d suffered fire, flood, theft, burst water pipe, lost keys or damage to their belongings. This suggests that at least half of these would have needed to pay for replacements out of their own pocket, since the loss adjuster wouldn’t have accepted any insurance claim under the landlord’s insurance.

This could wipe out your savings, if it happened to you, so it’s vital that renters understand their position. The problem is that the information and advice doesn’t seem to be out there. While there’s plenty of industry focus on helping landlords protect themselves against claims by tenants, the tenants themselves are largely left to do their own research.

Allied Claims would encourage all those within the lettings chain — from landlords to tenant referencing firms, estate agents and managing agents — to go further in raising awareness both with current and prospective tenants on the value of contents insurance and the conditions for making a claim.

And, if you do need to claim, we can help you make sure you get what you’re entitled to — whether you’re a homeowner, landlord or tenant.

 

Have You Been Mugged by Dudley or Franklin?

Last month was definitely one for storms. With Dudley and Franklin all hitting in quick succession, you might almost be feeling you’ve been mugged — and it’s quite possible that more is on its way.

So what happens if your home or business property is damaged by a storm? Will it be covered by your building insurance policy?

Most policies do have a clause covering storm damage, but defining whether what’s hit you actually is a storm is a little harder. The most common definition of a storm used by insurance companies is winds of over 55 miles per hour, but you can’t rely on this. Your insurer could easily use a slightly different definition, so it’s worth checking their terms & conditions.

If your policy does cover storm damage, then issues such as roof tiles cracked or missing, flat roofs blown off, trees falling on the property or water damage inside should be accepted by the insurer’s loss adjuster. On the other hand, many policies don’t include garden fences, walls, sheds or furniture, so it’s worth checking out whether those are covered by yours. If your car is damaged in the storm, that should be covered by fully comprehensive motor insurance.

What Do You Need to Do?

We’re normally given plenty of warning of a storm coming these days. Before it hits, make sure you secure everything that can be secured, and also that your mobile phone is fully charged, in case you need to phone for assistance during a power outage. Also, take photos of the property, if possible, so that you can provide evidence of its condition beforehand, if you need to claim.

Bear in mind that the loss adjuster is likely to refuse your claim if there was previous damage or excessive wear and tear that you’ve ignored. That’s particularly true of the roof. If it’s more than twenty years old, you’ll need to provide proof that it’s been assessed professionally in the past ten years. A flat roof must have been replaced less than ten years ago.

You need to have your building insurance policy and your insurer’s emergency 24-hour phone number to hand, so that you can start your claim as soon as possible. Take photos of any damage, and cover holes in the roof with tarpaulin — but only if you can do so safely. Don’t attempt this while the storm’s still in progress.

If your policy covers emergency repairs, these can be arranged during your initial phone call, and they’ll be carried out as soon as possible. If not, you can arrange this yourself with contractors, but be sure to keep all receipts to present to the loss adjuster.

Finally, remember to keep hold of any damaged item, even if it seems like rubbish — a broken roof tile, for instance. Your insurer will want to see it as evidence.

Allied Claims hope that your home won’t be hit by any more storms. If it is, though, following these steps should ensure you’re fully compensated for any vandalism inflicted by Dudley and his friends.

Be Smarter than the Average Clause

Under normal circumstances, if your insurer is trying to settle an insurance claim for significantly less than the cost of the repair or replacement, we’ll make sure you get what you’re due. We have encountered cases, however, when we’ve had no choice but to tell the policyholders that we can’t help them. And that’s due to the Average Clause in their policy.

In two cases, for instance, our clients lost £50,000 and £135,000 respectively. The problem was that, in both cases, the insurer’s Loss Adjuster was completely within their rights to withhold this money.

This is because, when the clients had renewed the policies on their homes, they’d ignored the need to update the “insurance value”, which is the actual current value of the property. As we all know, the value of property is constantly rising, and if you don’t update the amount at each renewal, your home will be seriously underinsured.

This means that you won’t have paid enough in premiums to cover the full cost of the claim you’re making. Not unreasonably, insurers aren’t willing to pay out in full for an underinsured property.

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.

However, this doesn’t just mean you can make any insurance claim up to 50% of the property’s value. If your home is worth £400,000, for example, but it’s only insured for £200,000, you’ll only receive 50% of whatever you’re claiming.

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 your property’s value is up to date in your policy, consult your insurance broker as soon as possible. Because Allied Claims can help get your full pay-out — but only if you’re smarter than the Average Clause.

Clear Your Blockages — In Your Gutters and Pipes

You can’t have missed that it’s well and truly autumn now, with winter on the skyline. We’ve had a touch of wild weather, and the one thing we can be sure of is there’s more to come.

That’s OK — you’re probably stocked up enough that you won’t have to venture out into the storm. But what about your roof? And particularly your gutters and downpipes? They can get blocked up easily, especially in autumn when leaves and debris are flying about in the wind, and that means the gallons of rain the storms dump on your roof will have nowhere safe to run off.

This leaves your home vulnerable from two directions. The pooling water on your roof could find its way in through cracks, creating damp and mould inside, while water pouring over the edge of the guttering can get into your foundations and damage them.

The worst thing of all is that your insurer’s loss adjuster could well turn you down if you make an insurance claim for the damage, leaving you to foot a hefty bill yourself. That’s because they’ll judge that you were negligent  by not attending to the upkeep of your guttering.

Pay Attention to Your Roof

Before the winter storms set in, you’re going to need your guttering and downpipes cleared out and repaired. In the case of the guttering, this can be quite straightforward, but you’ll need to rod all your downpipes to make sure they’re not blocked. At the same time, you need to check that nothing’s damaged in the guttering system, since this too could cause flooding of your property.

But these aren’t the only parts of your roof that need checking. If you have a pitched roof, it has an average lifespan of around twenty years, and it’s vital to have your tiles checked at least every five years. A flat roof, on the other hand, may not last longer than ten years, and it can be seriously degraded when water pools on it during heavy rain. Allied Claims would advise you at least to have a look over your whole roof while your guttering is being sorted, and have it checked professionally on a regular basis.

Safeguarding your home is reason enough to be vigilant, but if a particularly bad storm leaves you needing to make an insurance claim, you’ll need evidence to give the loss adjuster to prove the work has been done. If you hire a contractor, make sure you get fully itemised receipts. If you’re going to do it yourself, get someone to take photos or video footage of you at work.

Subsidence — Will Your Insurer Still Penalise You if It Was Caused by Noah’s Flood?

There’s a basic insurance principle that evidence of increased risk will mean an increase in your premium, as well as possibly a tougher time getting insured at all. For instance, if you’ve made an insurance claim for an accident in your car that was your fault, your motor insurer will see you as high risk. However, if you then drive for several years without incident, that assessment of higher risk will be wiped out.

This is true of almost all types of risk, except for one — subsidence.

Subsidence currently has no statute of limitations in insurance terms. This means that, even if the subsidence has occurred ten years ago and was fully dealt with then, you still have to declare it to your insurer, not to mention any new purchaser of the property. That creates the double whammy of making your property difficult and expensive to insure and making it harder to sell.

This might seem reasonable if there’s a very real risk of the subsidence recurring. Not all subsidence is like this, though. It can be caused, for example, by tree roots too close to the building or by faulty drains, and if these issues have been fully resolved, your home is in no greater danger than the average property.

Nevertheless, in this situation the property will still be assessed as being at risk of subsidence. So what does this mean, and is there any way around it?

Insuring a Building with a History of Subsidence

In general, if subsidence has occurred within the past five years, whether or not an insurance claim has been made, most regular insurers will refuse to take it on as a new policy. On the other hand, they’ll probably continue an existing policy, but at a much higher premium. They may accept your application after five years, but again at a higher premium.

The alternative is to go to one of the specialist insurance firms that deal with higher-risk cases. One of these should be able to arrange a policy for you, even if the subsidence has been recent — but you’ll still have to pay over the odds for it.

So can you avoid being penalised for past subsidence, even if it goes back as far as Noah’s flood? There’s no guarantee, but Allied Claims would recommend going through a good insurance broker, especially one who has experience dealing with this kind of case. If there is a chance of finding an insurer willing to give a more reasonable quote, they’ll be your best bet for finding it.

So What Have Loss Assessors Ever Done for Us?

If you’re not familiar with the convoluted world of insurance, you might be tempted to ask (with apologies to Monty Python) “What have loss assessors ever done for us?”

And, as John Cleese found, the answer’s quite long.

Most obviously, of course, we’ll handle your whole insurance claim on your behalf. That’s invaluable to you for a number of reasons. In the first place, it can be a very time-consuming process that involves arranging endless appointments, not only with the insurance company’s representatives, but also with contractors you need to provide quotes — and most of these will have to be within working hours.

The other major problem of handling your claim yourself is that you’ll have to deal with the insurer’s loss adjuster. Now, any reputable loss adjuster will treat you professionally and legally, but part of their job is to find ways of legitimately reducing their employer’s liability.

That’s a problem, because the loss adjuster is an expert in insurance and will be able to spot any slight error you’ve made in putting forward your claim — and that could lose you some or all of your pay-out. Fortunately, a loss assessor is just as expert and will ensure there’s nothing in how your claim is presented for the loss adjuster to pick apart.

A Loss Assessor Can Oversee the Repairs Too

As if managing your insurance claim and negotiating with the loss adjuster weren’t enough, many loss assessors (including Allied Claims) will project manage the repair works as well. That’s not always easy for you to do yourself since, just like those appointments when making the claim, the contractors will probably need to carry out the repairs while you should be at work. You have the choice between leaving them to it or take a lot of time off.

The chances are, too, that just as you may not speak insurance, you also may not speak builder, painter or decorator, and you’re unlikely to know whether they’re doing the work as you need it done. We do. Loss assessors like Allied Claims will project manage the work, deliver your property back to you fully repaired and send all the bills to the insurance company.

So, apart from handling your insurance claim, negotiating with the loss adjuster, ensuring you get everything due to you, arranging for quotes, project managing the repairs, billing the insurance company and delivering your property back to you as good as new — what have loss assessors ever done for you?

Well, we’re very nice people, too. Why not get in touch to find out?

Cover for Whizz-Kids — Electric Bikes and Insurance

One of the big success stories of the lockdown has been electric bikes, with sales tripling during last summer. If you’ve joined the trend of whizzing along on a powered bike, you might not have much information — including what you need to do about insurance.

The legal definition of an EAPC (electrically assisted pedal cycle) is that its electric motor can’t have an output more than 250 watts and must cap assistance at the speed of 15.5mph. If it meets this requirement, anyone aged fourteen or over can ride it in public without needing a licence.

There’s also no legal obligation to insure an EAPC, as there is for a car or motorbike — but that doesn’t mean you should ignore insurance. After all, electric bikes can cost anything up to £5,000, so it makes sense to give yourself the peace of mind that you can make an insurance claim if it’s stolen or damaged.

In fact, you may be able to cover an electric bike under your home insurance, if you declare it as a single item. This process is normal for ordinary bicycles, but there’s likely to be a limit for an item’s value under your general policy. If you’ve gone for that top-of-the-range £5,000 model, you’ll almost certainly have to take out a separate policy.

What’s Covered by Electric Bike Insurance?

Although different policies vary a little, most will cover your electric bike for theft, personal accident and accidental or malicious damage. In general, if you bought your EAPC new, replacement will be on the basis of an equivalent new bike, while a second-hand bike will be compensated according to market value.

The insurer may offer additional cover, such as for third-party liability (in case of a claim made against you for an accident), accessories or roadside breakdown assistance. On the other hand, there are various situations where the loss adjuster is likely to turn down your insurance claim, including:

  • Wear and tear or damage not caused maliciously or through accident.
  • Theft of a bike that’s inadequately secured.
  • Any incident occurring while you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Any claim where you’re unable to prove your ownership of the bike.

As in the case of any insurance policy, Allied Claims would strongly advise you to go through a reputable insurance broker, who can explain exactly how to make sure you’re covered for what you’re likely to need.