Is the West Wing Covered by Your Building Insurance?

In theory, if you have building insurance, the insurer should pay for the cost of repairs in the event of damage. Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple in practice. While insurers won’t refuse an insurance claim you can prove you’re legally entitled to, there are many reasons why the claim may be considered invalid.

One of the most common is that the property is under-insured. This could be because the valuation is out of date, or it could be because you’ve added an extension. After all, that new west wing isn’t going to insure itself.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be anything as grand as that — a new conservatory can change the value of the property. On the other hand, just leaving a valuation in place for too long could be just as bad. In a volatile market, it’s possible that even a two-year-old valuation will be out of date.

If it turns out your home is under-insured, the loss adjuster will apply the Average Clause to calculate how much to pay. This means that if, for example, your home is only insured for half its actual value, then any pay-out made under that policy will also be half its actual value.

This applies for any size of pay-out. For example, if your home is worth £400,000 but is only insured for £200.000, then if you try to claim £50,000 for damage, you’ll only be paid £25,000.

How Much to Insure Your Home For?

What you’re insuring your home for is the total cost of rebuilding it in the event of catastrophic damage. To find this out, you could speak to a local contractor, or check the website of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Then add a few percentage points, to allow for increases before the next renewal date.

You’ll also need to take account of any alterations or improvements you may have made. These need not be extensions —anything that’s increased the property’s valuation will affect your policy. This will ensure the loss adjuster won’t have any cause to use the Average Clause.

Finally, remember that your building insurance doesn’t include the land, only the structure itself. If you add the value of the grounds, you’ll be paying extra premium and getting nothing if you do try to make an insurance claim on the land.

It’s best to update the valuation of your home every time you have to renew your policy. That will mean that, if you do have to make a claim, Allied Claims will be able to get a full pay-out for you.

Make Sure Saving on Electrical Items Doesn’t Ruin Your Life

A recent case where a London family lost both their home and their beloved pets has highlighted the danger of buying untested and unregulated electrical items online. Not only is there no guarantee they’ll perform up to standard — there’s also no guarantee they aren’t death-traps.

In this particular case, the equipment was a battery power pack and charger for a camera, which had been bought online from a seller in Hong Kong. The buyer had plugged it in to charge overnight and woke up just in time for the family to escape the resulting fire.

The best advice is only to buy electrical equipment from reputable sources. Although there’s no 100% guarantee that there won’t be a fault, it’s substantially less likely, and regulation of such suppliers will make it far easier to claim compensation.

Even then, and certainly if you do buy from a less reliable source, what this case underlines is not to leave equipment running while you’re asleep or out — at least not till you’re absolutely sure that it’s safe. Otherwise, besides the risk of losing your home, the insurer’s loss adjuster could consider you’ve been negligent and turn down your insurance claim.

Make Sure Your Insurance Policy Is Up to Date

And that brings us to another disturbing aspect of the case. The family’s insurance policy was out of date, so they received nothing towards rebuilding their home or replacing their lost possessions.

They’d forgotten to renew the policy when it had run out and, while insurance companies won’t cheat you out of what’s due to you, they’re not in the business of making payments they don’t have to. The loss adjuster isn’t going to hand out charity money.

Your insurance policy is a one-year contract, renewable at the end of the period, and it’s entirely your responsibility as the policyholder to ensure that it’s renewed on time. If you miss a monthly or annual payment, even by a day, the insurance company has no obligation to pay out on an insurance claim — however long you’ve been a customer.

The family in this case have been reduced to trying to sue the seller, but this isn’t a good option for most people. It’s not only a highly expensive process, but an extremely lengthy one, too. Unless you have considerable reserves, it could leave you without a home.

So Allied Claims would strongly advise you to make sure all insurance policy renewals and payments are made in good time, as well as taking the utmost care with electrical equipment. Then, if the worst should happen, we can fight to ensure you get what’s due to you.