Category Archives: Insurance Claims

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.

Loss Assessors, Loss Adjusters and the Perils of Confusing Them

One of the problems we occasionally come up against is that people don’t understand the difference between a loss assessor and a loss adjuster. Now, this might seem like a trivial distinction for anyone who hasn’t gone through the process of making an insurance claim on their building or contents insurance. Those who have been through this, on the other hand, will realise that confusing them is a bit like confusing an accountant with a tax inspector.

A loss adjuster works for the insurance company you have your policy with, and it’s their job to make sure their employer doesn’t end up paying out money unnecessarily. A loss assessor like Allied Claims, on the other hand, works for claimants like you on a case-by-case basis. Our job, therefore, is to make sure you get every penny you’re entitled to.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that the loss adjuster is the bad guy, any more than the tax inspector is, or the opposing lawyer in a court case. They have an essential job to do and, in our experience, they normally do it professionally and ethically. At the same, however, it’s important to remember that the loss adjuster isn’t on your side. Your loss assessor is.

What Do Loss Assessors and Loss Adjusters Do?

If you have an insurance claim to make, both the loss assessor and the loss adjuster get involved early on. The difference is that the loss adjuster will be involved whether you like it or not, whereas you’ll have to engage the loss assessor yourself. And the time to do that is right away.

This is because a loss assessor can look at the claim you’re making and ensure that there are no errors in it that could give the loss adjuster a reason to reject or reduce the claim. The loss adjuster will look at what you’ve sent and ensure that it corresponds to what’s specified in your insurance policy. If it’s valid, they’ll accept it on principle — but that doesn’t mean your problems are over.

Because the loss adjuster is responsible to the insurance company, they’ll try to keep any pay-out as low as can be justified. This is where an expert loss assessor will really come into their own. Because they know as much about the insurance industry as the loss adjuster (if not more), they’ll be able to counter any invalid arguments the loss adjuster makes and ensure you get everything you’re entitled to.

That’s not all you get from a loss assessor, however. If they offer a full service, like Allied Claims, they’ll also arrange the quotes you need from contractors and project manage the work, saving you from having to constantly take time off work.

Most people wouldn’t face a court without their own lawyer, or tackle the taxman without an accountant — unless their affairs are very simple. Few insurance claims are simple, so why would you face the loss adjuster without the support of your very own expert fighting your corner?

Are You Responsible for the Crown Jewels? Or Does It Just Seem Like That?

Whether it’s the crown jewels or your wedding ring, your jewellery is likely to be precious to you on two levels. It may well have a lot of emotional significance, but at the same time it’s likely to have been a substantial investment. If one or more items are lost, damaged or stolen, it can’t be replaced emotionally — but that doesn’t mean you need to take a financial hit, too.

So is your jewellery insured? Maybe you assume it’s covered by your home insurance, but not necessarily. Most home contents insurance policies have a limit for single items, and this can restrict what you’ll get if you have to make an insurance claim. If, for example, your limit is £2,000 and you have an item worth £5,000, you’ll end up with less than half its value. And it could be worse — the insurer’s loss adjuster could even refuse your claim.

You do have the option of naming individual items of high value in your policy, in which case you should get the full amount back — at least, in theory. However, a general insurer could set a higher excess, meaning you don’t actually get it all, or a much higher premium.

So what’s the answer?

Get Specialist Jewellery Insurance

Fortunately, there are insurers who offer specialist insurance for items of jewellery, and they’re likely not to set such draconian terms. Jewellery insurance typically covers:

  • accidental loss
  • accidental damage
  • loss or damage to diamonds or other stones
  • theft
  • damage caused by flooding or fire

It may also cover loss or damage when you’re away from home, even abroad.

Specialist jewellery insurance will give you more peace of mind about your personal jewellery, at least as far as the financial side goes. It’s also essential, however, if you have a jewellery shop. As long as you continue to take all appropriate precautions, you shouldn’t have any problem if you have to make an insurance claim for theft or damage.

If you have the right policy, you should find that the insurer’s loss adjuster will settle the claim and get you your money quickly. However, you need to check the policy carefully to ensure that all the advantages you expect are covered. Allied Claims would always advise you to go through an insurance broker for any policy, since they’ll make sure you’re covered for what you think you are.

Then we’ll be able to help you get the funds for replacing the crown jewels. Actually finding the replacements — that might not be quite so easy.

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.

Ensure You Have Correct Cover for Your Building Insurance

There are many reasons for clients calling us in to act as Loss Assessor for their insurance claim. All too often, it’s because the Loss Adjuster has told them they’re under insured and has invoked the Average clause, meaning they’ll be paid less than expected.

This most often results from using an old valuation in the insurance policy. It’s not unknown for a 30-year-old valuation to be used, though in today’s volatile property market even a two-year-old one could be worthless. This will mean the building is under insured, and the Loss Adjuster will only allow a proportion of the insurance claim.

When you’re establishing how much to insure a building for, first find out the current building costs that would be required, either by speaking to a local contractor or by checking the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) website.

Then add a few percentage points — we all know this figure will have increased by your next renewal date.

You also need to take account of any additions or alterations. In any case, the policy holder is obliged to inform the Insurer if any alterations are about to be made. It could help you, too, if you need to take legal action against a contractor for causing damage through bad workmanship.

And finally, remember not to include the value of the ground in your building insurance. You’re insuring the building, not the ground it’s built on, and you’ll be paying extra premium for nothing.

Play Safe or Go for a Cliffhanger? When to Call in a Loss Assessor

If you’re making an insurance claim on your home insurance, you have the option of calling in a loss assessor to help you sort it out. You could always try to sort it out for yourself, of course, but you might end up having to call the loss assessor anyway.

So what’s it to be — the adrenalin rush of the DIY approach for as long as possible, or playing safe and getting the loss assessor in from the beginning?

So why would you need a loss assessor, anyway? The short answer is that otherwise you’ll need to deal with the insurer’s loss adjuster for yourself. Although the loss adjuster isn’t going to cheat you, it’s part of their job to find any reason possible to turn down or reduce your claim.

The problem is that they’re almost certainly far more expert at insurance than you are. Your claim’s going to involve very long forms and very small print, and it’s very easy to go wrong and give them just that excuse. A loss assessor like Allied Claims can provide at least as much expertise as the loss adjuster — and it’s all at your disposal.

However, if you try it yourself first and only call in the expert when something’s gone wrong, it could be too late. If you’ve inadvertently give the loss adjuster a good reason to reject your claim, even for a loss assessor might not be able to get that reversed.

Isn’t It Cheaper to Do It Myself?

Some people hold off from using a loss assessor because they think they’ll be saving money. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Quite apart from the very real risk that you won’t receive your full insurance claim (or any at all), doing it yourself can mean having to take a lot of time off work for everything from appointments with the loss adjuster to overseeing the repair process.

A loss assessor will take all that of your hands, and you won’t be asked to pay anything up front. We get paid at the end of the process as part of your claim settlement with the insurance company.

So save yourself time, money and hassle by calling in a loss assessor as soon as you know you’re going to make a claim — as opposed to trying to live dangerously.

 

Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse — Nor Is Ignorance of Non-Disclosure

We come across people every now and then who get insurance by lying on their form and think they’re deceiving the insurer. In fact, it’s very difficult to deceive an insurance company, and (quite apart from the morality of the issue) it’s dangerous to try it.

In fact, the false information doesn’t need to have anything to do with the insurance claim. With motor insurance, for example, your claim for an accident on the road will be refused if you’ve given false information about where you keep the vehicle overnight.

The same thing applies to the insurance for your home, whether building or contents. If the insurer’s loss adjuster discovers any discrepancy in your declarations when you took out the insurance policy, you’ll find yourself footing the bill for any repairs or replacement needed.

But What if It’s Not Your Fault?

It’s easy to say that it would serve anyone right to be left in that position if they’ve lied or deliberately withheld information. In fact, a recent case shows that it’s possible to be stung even if you’ve done nothing wrong.

A family who were having a loft extension built for their home faced disaster when the chimney collapsed during the work, leaving the house having to be rebuilt. The contractor was fully covered and made an insurance claim on his policy — only to have it turned down on the basis of three outstanding CCJs he hadn’t declared.

The contractor has claimed that he didn’t know about the CCJs at the time (a plausible claim, in fact) and paid them off as soon as he found out, but this made no difference. Not only did the loss adjuster refuse the claim, but the policy itself was voided.

The really disturbing part of this is that the family had done everything right (including checking the contractor’s insurance) but still ended up having to fork out over £250,000 to rebuild their home.

It’s hard to see what they could have done differently, but it does underline the vital importance of answering every question with complete honesty when you set up your own insurance policy. Allied Claims would strongly advise you to go through a good insurance broker, who’ll help you ensure all information is correct. Then, if you do have to make a claim, we’ll be able to get you what you’re due.

Don’t Let Your Phone Be the Insider on the Job

Scammers have always used whatever means are available to part you from your money, but the latest trick is to use your phone as the insider on the job. The type of fraud known as “sim-swap” (also sometimes called sim splitting, simjacking and port-out scamming) has mushroomed from 144 cases in 2015 to 483 in just the first half of 2020.

Sim-swap works by criminals collecting data about you in more familiar ways, such as exploiting data breaches of companies that hold details or stalking you on social media. This is then used to convince your phone provider to change your account to a phone they hold, allowing them to intercept messages from your bank and other sources, in particular those sent for two-step authentication.

In one recent sim-swap fraud, the scammers managed to clear £5,000 out of a victim’s accounts. If you identify the theft and contact your bank, they may refund the stolen money. It’s important to remember, though, that just like an insurer’s loss adjuster when you’re making an insurance claim, the banks may refuse to pay if they conclude that your own negligence has contributed to the problem.

How to Avoid Being the Victim of Sim-Swap

As with most types of scam, the best cure for sim-swap fraud is prevention. It only works if the scammers manage to get hold of information about you that will convince the phone company, so don’t make it easy for them:

  • Avoid replying to emails, phone calls or texts unless you’re confident about who they’re from.
  • Don’t be too free on social media with the kind of personal information often used for identification (e.g. date of birth, your first pet or your first school).
  • Use long passwords that combine letters, numbers and symbols and are difficult to guess.
  • Use a one-step app like Google Authenticator or a password vault such as LastPass.

If your phone stops working or you can’t access your bank or credit card accounts, the first thing to do is to contact your phone provider and bank to alert them of possible problems. You may not be in time to stop the loss of money, but taking prompt action makes it more likely that it will be refunded.

While this issue doesn’t directly involve insurance, it’s vital for your security to do everything possible to avoid being caught by the sim-swap scam. We at Allied Claims hope this warning will help with that.