Do You Understand Your Policies — Or Do You Just Feel Lucky?

We all hope we’ll never need to make an insurance claim for our property — but, if there’s one thing recent weeks have taught us, it’s that life always has a curve ball or two up its sleeve.

If your home or business premises does suffer from fire, flood or accidental damage, you’ll want to make a claim on your policy. The trouble is, you probably have two different policies, one for building and one for contents (and if you don’t, you should). Claiming under the wrong one could very easily get you turned down by the insurer’s loss adjuster.

In most cases, it’s straightforward. If something falls on your roof and smashes through it, you’d claim under your building insurance. If your precious stamp collection gets burnt, you’d claim under contents insurance — assuming you didn’t have it separately insured, of course.

The trouble is that not all cases are quite so cut and dried.

Room for Confusion

The usual area of confusion tends to be over whether or not something’s a fixture. It should be quite simple — if it’s fixed, it’s a fixture and comes under the building policy, whereas if it’s movable, it’s not and comes under the content policy. Theoretically, that’s how you’d make your insurance claim.

The problem is that there are grey areas, and one loss adjuster may interpret them differently from another. For example, what’s the status of carpets? They’re fitted, aren’t they? But, if you’ve had them laid yourself after moving in, they might be regarded as contents.

Even laminate flooring, which is glued down into place and fitted under the skirting boards, won’t inevitably be treated as a fixture. The same is true of items ranging from fitted units in your rooms to antennae on the roof — it really depends on how the loss adjuster decides to interpret their status.

This makes it very easy to inadvertently claim under the wrong policy and see your claim thrown out. It’s far better to find out how your insurer interprets the policy before you need it, ideally by using an insurance broker when you set it up. And, if you do need to claim, contact a public loss assessor like Allied Claims straight away, who will know exactly what needs to be queried before it’s too late.