Category Archives: Insurance Claims

Cyber Crime — The Booming Sector

Fraud has come a long way from African princes and deceased uncles you never knew you had. It’s now been reinvented as cyber crime, and it’s everywhere. In fact, if cyber crime were a legitimate business, it would be considered one of the few booming sectors at the moment.

Cyber criminals target individuals (those emails that pretend to be from your bank, for instance), but much of the serious effort is against businesses. A recent government survey found that 39% of businesses reported cyber attacks, though noting that this probably only represents businesses with sophisticated enough defences to detect the attacks.

By far the most common type of attack is phishing, where the criminals try to get enough personal data to access your bank accounts. Other common types are:

  • denial of service, which effectively closes down an organisation
  • malware, secretively installed on your devices to access systems, steal data or prevent access to your systems
  • ransomware, where the criminals steal data and demand payment for its return.

It’s estimated that, in the UK, one in 3,722 emails are phishing attacks, and there are around 65,000 attempts a day to hack SMEs, 4,500 of which are successful. That represents one SME being successfully hacked every 19 seconds.

The government survey estimates the average cost to medium and large businesses of a cyber attack as £19,400. If smaller businesses are also included, this falls to £4,200. It’s worth remembering, though, that £4,200 could be as serious for a micro business as the higher figure for a larger organisation.

How to Combat Cyber Crime

The only sure way of avoiding cyber crime entirely would be to stop using the internet — hardly a practical solution in a world that relies so totally on being online. Failing that, there are steps both businesses and individuals can take.

Perhaps the most important is to learn and practice caution. We all know we shouldn’t click on links or open attachments we’re not sure of — but a surprising number of people still do. That’s why it’s so vital for organisations to arrange ongoing cyber security training for all their people.

At the same time, there’s a range of services available to defend against cyber attacks. These could be as simple as the basic security system you put on your home computer, but there are also many complex services available, from automatically monitoring the online activities of employees to “white hat” attempts to breach your systems in order to identify weaknesses.

Nevertheless, cyber criminals are getting cleverer and more subtle all the time. An incident we came across recently illustrates how difficult it can be to stay safe. A business sent out an invoice for just under £100,000 and, when the recipient opened it, he had a feeling the Bank account number and sort code were different from previous payments. He decided to call the company — and he was right. Someone had intercepted the email and changed the bank details on the invoice.

This was a lucky escape — probably one in a million — and shows why Allied Claims would urge you to have cyber insurance in place. While it won’t end the risk or the negative effects of cyber attacks, it will mean that if, despite your best efforts, you lose money through a cyber attack, you’ll at least be able to make an insurance claim for it.


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.


Insuring Your Second Home — And It Doesn’t Have to Be a Stately Home

Back in the days of Downton Abbey, a wealthy family might well own both a London townhouse and a country seat. Although that might seem like another world, a surprising number of UK families today own a second residential property. Maybe you’re one of them.

Government data suggests that about 2.4 million households in England own a second home of some kind. The majority of these are rented out, but some are used as holiday homes or let to friends or family, while others may be inherited properties that are currently unoccupied.

While there’s no legal requirement to insure your second home, you could lose a lot of money if it’s damaged while uninsured. In any case, if you have a mortgage, it’s likely to be a requirement to have at least Building cover.

The problem is that second homes generally face different threats from your main home, and this needs to be reflected in the insurance cover needed. Otherwise, the insurer’s loss adjuster may turn you down if you have to make an insurance claim on this property.

What Kind of Insurance Do You Need?

You’ll normally need both Building and Contents insurance, unless you’re renting the property out unfurnished, in which case it’s up to the tenant to arrange Contents insurance. If you’re using it as a holiday home, on the other hand, it’s generally advisable to have Contents cover for the items you leave in the property while you’re not using it.

However, the policies you use for your main home won’t necessarily be appropriate for a second home. If the property tends to be left empty for long periods, you’ll need  a special policy allowing this, while a rented-out property may need cover for public liability, legal costs, alternative accommodation or loss of income or rent. You may also require employer’s liability insurance if you have a housekeeper, gardener etc., as well as cover for emergency travel to sort out problems.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that some insurers may not offer certain types of cover. This might include insuring a large building or a listed building (not only a problem if you’ve inherited a stately home), while policies for second homes may exclude pets, stag or hen parties or unplanned guests.

You can generally get a better deal for your second home insurance if you combine Building and Contents policies and pay annually. Improving security measures and keeping the property well maintained will also help.

However, Allied Claims would always recommend going through an insurance broker, who will advise you on exactly what you need and find you the right cover and the best deal. That way, if you need to make an insurance claim, the loss adjuster will have no reason to object to anything, and we can ensure you get a full pay-out.


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.


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.


The Cracks Are Showing — And Climate Change Is Making Them Worse

Have you ever found cracks in the walls of your home? And, if so, have you panicked or just dismissed them as unimportant?

In fact, neither reaction is very helpful. Cracks may be harmless, especially if they’re small, but it’s usually as well to get them checked out — especially in the hot, dry summers that seem likely to become common.

Allied Claims Subsidence claim 1Substantial cracks could be due to subsidence, which are most commonly caused by leaking drains or tree roots growing near the house. Tree roots can create a particular problem in hot, dry summers, since they drain the soil of its limited moisture, causing it to contract. If there’s then the expected higher rainfall in winter, the roots take up less moisture while the tree isn’t in leaf, causing the soil to push upwards again.

Repairs to minor cracks in your home may simply come under wear and tear, but subsidence could be covered by your insurance policy. So how can you tell — and what needs to be done?

Repairing Cracks in Your Home

If you have cracks more than 2.5mm wide (especially if you can see daylight through them), if they’re diagonal rather than vertical, or if there are cracks above door frames, this is likely to be a sign of subsidence, and you’ll need to get professionals in for major structural repairs or even to have the foundations underpinned and strengthened.

Subsidence claims increased in the wake of 2018’s hot summer, and this is likely to be repeated this year and into the future. According to climate science projections, the UK is likely to experience more warm, dry summers, and subsidence claims will increase accordingly, spreading to areas where they’re usually less of a problem.

While wear and tear repairs (often DIY jobs) won’t be covered by your insurance policy, major structural repairs or underpinning can normally be claimed under your Building Insurance. The increased claims, however, might make insurers more resistant to paying — which is where you’ll need our help.

If your home needs to be underpinned, this is likely to have consequences for future insurance cover, with policies harder to arrange and premiums tending to be more expensive. You might also find the property harder to sell. However, this is still better than leaving your home to collapse and needing to be rebuilt. And you might even get turned down by your insurer’s loss adjuster, if you’ve negligently avoided essential repairs.

Allied Claims would recommend you get a professional in at once if you find cracks that display any of the danger signs mentioned above. They’ll advise you on what needs to be done — and we’ll be here to make sure you receive any insurance pay-out due to you.

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.

 

Car Thieves Don’t Want Your Car Now — Just Bits of It

Car theft is hardly a new danger — it’s as old as cars themselves. Figures have shown sharp rises recently, though, and there’s a new aspect. It turns out that today’s car thieves aren’t so interested in your car for itself. They just want to sell off the parts.

Figures show that, in the 12 months to March 2022, a total of 88,915 vehicles were stolen nationwide — that works out as 244 thefts a day. In some regions, this represents a massive year-on-year rise in cases — 12% in Surrey, 19% in the West Midlands, 25% in the City of London and an astounding 28% in South Yorkshire.

There’s a new element to all this, however. A lot of these thieves aren’t stealing cars in order to resell them, but to strip them down and sell the parts.

There are several reasons for this. Many car parts became difficult to get hold of during the pandemic, and this issue is still affecting supplies. At the same time, the cost of raw materials has sky-rocketed, making parts expensive and creating a demand for cheaper options. A stripped-down car can bring in more from the sum total of its parts than would have been the case for the complete vehicle.

Is Your Car Really Locked?

You might think you’re safe from car thieves if you always remember to lock your car — but that’s not necessarily true. The latest trick from the car thieves means that a vehicle may still not be secure, even if you believe it’s locked.

This is an electronic device that blocks the signal when you lock your car electronically. Whether you leave your car at the roadside or in a large retail car park, this means that, as soon as you’re gone, the thieves can make off with your car.

The good news is that there is a defence against this. Whether you have an electronic fob or a keyless entry/start, storing your key in a Faraday box or pouch at home will prevent the thieves’ signal blocking it. At the moment, an insurance claim for a car stolen by these means will probably succeed, but it’s only a matter of time before the insurer’s loss adjuster decides that failure to use this protection is negligence. You could find your claim refused.

Allied Claims would advise you to use any safeguard you can to avoid your car joining the growing statistics. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, though. Just getting into the habit of testing that the door really is locked could be the difference that saves your vehicle.

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.