Tag Archives: loss adjuster

Storming Your Insurer — Will You Get a Payout?

Severe weather warnings have been so common over the past few years that it’s easy to get blasé about them. However, the Met Office only issues them when there’s a “high level of certainty” that there’ll be “very dangerous” conditions — where there’s a “risk to life”.

Your immediate priority in such a case is going to be ensuring you and your family are safe, but when its over, you might find that your property’s been damaged. This could be anything from broken fences or trees blown down to damage to your roof or windows broken by falling debris.

Damage like this might be obvious, but it’s important to check carefully after a storm, in case you’ve missed something. Are your gutters leaking, for instance? Or are the tiles on your roof cracked or missing? You may not be able to see this from outside, but a good method is to go up into the roofspace in daytime, with no artificial lighting, and search for the tell-tale pinpricks of light coming through.

If the damage is serious enough, you may need to make an insurance claim. The good news is that most home insurance (as well as commercial business and comprehensive motor policies) will pay out for storm damage. The bad news is that insurers’ terms vary. If you make a claim without checking, you could find the loss adjuster turning you down.

Will Your Claim Be Successful?

Although your home building insurance policy will almost certainly include “storm damage”, that doesn’t automatically guarantee that your insurance claim will be successful. There’s still plenty that can go wrong.

This includes, quite simply, defining what is a storm and what isn’t. In practice, we know if we’ve been hit by a storm — both because of the impact it’s had and because it’ll have been given a name. However, what we call a storm and what the insurers call a storm aren’t always the same thing.

In fact, not even the various insurers can agree about this. The main defining factor is wind-speed, but for different insurers it can be anything from 35 mph to 55 mph. In the same way, the amount of rain or the depth of snow can vary, making the same event a storm or not to different companies.

There are also variations in what’s included in the storm damage they’ll cover. For instance, some insurers won’t pay out for damage to your fences, since they’re seen as high risk.

It’s vital to contact your insurer as soon as possible, if your property has suffered storm damage. The trouble is that, if you inadvertently claim for something that’s not covered, the loss adjuster may refuse payment. That’s why it’s vital to have a loss assessor like Allied Claims on your side. You won’t have to storm your insurer’s castle — we’ll do that for you.


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.

How to Ruin a Burglar’s Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be a time of goodwill to all — but does that really extend to the burglars who’d love to break into your home and steal your property? Traditionally, burglars love Christmas. All those valuable presents lying around, with people either too busy with preparations or else having too much fun to think about security — it’s a perfect opportunity.

So what can you do to ruin a burglar’s Christmas?

  • Tear up any envelopes or packaging with your name and address on it before you throw it away. Criminals may snoop in your bins to find information that will allow them to clone your identity.
  • Keep presents away from the windows and out of view — especially if they’re unwrapped, which would enable burglars to check out what’s valuable.
  • Always double lock your doors and windows when you go out, and invest in an alarm. But remember — an alarm isn’t just for Christmas.
  • If you’re going away for Christmas, don’t make it too obvious, such as leaving your suitcases in full view or marking it prominently on a calendar visible through the window. And don’t announce it on social media, either — that could be a reason for the insurer’s loss adjuster to turn down your insurance claim, if you do get burgled.
  • Join your local Neighbourhood Watch, and display the fact prominently in your window.
  • Don’t put up a “Beware of the Dog” sign. While this might seem intimidating, it actually tells the burglar that the dog has the run of the house, meaning there’s no alarm.

What if You Have Cash at Home?

Theft of presents in a burglary will normally be covered in an insurance claim, providing you haven’t invited it through negligence. But what if the burglar takes cash that’s lying around the place?

You might expect cash not to be a big problem any more, but actually its use has grown during the cost-of-living crisis, especially among younger people. In particular, the habit of “cash stuffing” has increased. This is where you divide your cash between different pots or envelopes, representing different parts of your household budget.

If a burglar makes off with your cash, it can be very hard to prove. The good news is that the loss adjuster will often take your word for it, although they may ask to see bank balances or photos. The bad news is that the amount they’ll pay out is very limited — sometimes as little as £100. The most common payout range is £200-£500.

If you’re likely to be keeping substantial amounts of cash at home over Christmas (or at any time), it’s important to go through your policy, preferably with your insurance broker, to find out its position on cash. A few policies offer cover of up to £5,000, but you have to know where to look. And, if possible, always keep any cash on the premises securely locked up.

Allied Claims would like to wish you a happy and burglary-free Christmas — and an unhappy one to the burglars.


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.


Make Sure Your Home’s Seat Belt Is Secure

Home insurance is a little like the seat belts in your car. You may never need to put it to the test, but it will be too late to sort it out if you do. Unfortunately, the fact that it doesn’t seem urgent can lead many people to ignore keeping it up to date. And, while finding out you’re under-insured when you make an insurance claim isn’t quite as devastating as flying through the windscreen, it can leave you seriously out of pocket.

Of course, in these difficult times it’s tempting to look for expenses you can cut, and unfortunately some people see home insurance as one of these. It’s been estimated that around 25% of homes in the UK are either under-insured or not insured at all.

To make matters worse, many of these are still paying their monthly premium, which could be nothing more than throwing money down the drain. If you’re under-insured, the insurer’s loss adjuster won’t authorise the payment you need, if you need to make a claim for fire, flood, theft or criminal damage.

What Can Go Wrong?

Any home should have two forms of insurance — building insurance, which covers damage to the structure, and contents insurance, which covers the movable possessions in the house. If you’re a homeowner, you’re responsible for both, whereas if you’re renting you normally don’t need to worry about building insurance.

Prices generally rise over time, but they’ve soared over the past couple of years. This means that the cost of replacing possessions lost in an incident may be significantly higher. For example, suppose you bought a TV a year ago for £1,000. Prices of TVs have jumped by around 30% since then, so it might cost you £1,300 to buy the same model today. Yet, if it’s still insured for the original price, that’s all the loss adjuster will allow you.

Finding an extra £300 might not be the end of the world, but multiply that for all your possessions, and you could find yourself seriously out of pocket. A survey by one Insurer suggests that adults on average buy £1,000 worth of new goods a year. A good practice is to keep a contents checklist which you regularly update — perhaps doing it on a room-by-room basis.

The position is even worse with building insurance, since the figures are significantly higher. Property prices have been worse hit by recent inflation than most other purchases, so your home’s value is likely to be substantially higher than when you insured it.

So what does this mean, if you have to make an insurance claim on your building insurance? At best, the insurer may apply an average clause. If you insured your home for £200,000, for instance, and it’s now worth £400,000, you’ll only receive half of any claim you make. At worst, they could decide that the under-insurance voids your policy, and you’ll receive nothing at all.

So make a habit of regularly reviewing the value of both your home and possessions. The best thing is to speak to an insurance broker, who can guide you through the process — then Allied Claims will be able to make sure you get every penny you’re entitled to, if you have to make a claim.


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.


5 Easy Ways to Let the Burglars Help Themselves to Your Christmas Presents

Times are hard for everyone, including your local burglars. So, if you really want to help them out, these are five simple things you can do to help them steal your Christmas presents from under your nose. And not only that — you may even be giving your insurer’s loss adjuster a Christmas present by allowing them to turn down your insurance claim.

  1. When you receive Christmas cards, just throw the envelopes intact into the bin. That will make it easy for burglars snooping around your bins to find out your name and address and clone your identity.
  2. Keep your presents clearly on view through the windows. That will tip the burglars off that your home is worth breaking into. Even better, leave them unwrapped, so the burglars can see clearly what’s worth taking. Burglars are basically lazy — you can’t expect them to unwrap each present.
  3. When you do wrap your presents, wrap several items together — or, even better, put them into a gift bag. That will make them easier for the burglars to carry as they make their getaway.
  4. Make sure everyone knows about your holiday plans by leaving your bags and suitcases in full view. Even better, mark your holiday clearly on a calendar visible through the window — and don’t forget to announce your plans on social media.
  5. Avoid joining the Neighbourhood Watch, instead just put up a sign saying “Beware of the Dog”. That will reassure the burglars that there’s no alarm set, as the dog’s clearly moving around the house freely.

But Seriously…

Of course, if you don’t really want the burglars to get in, you can simply do the exact reverse of the advice above. And, needless to say, double lock your doors and windows whenever you’re out and invest in an effective alarm. That will not only frustrate the burglars, but also ensure that, if they should manage to get in, the loss adjuster won’t have any reason to turn down your insurance claim.

We at Allied Claims would all like to wish you a happy, burglary-free and insurance-claim-free Christmas and New Year. And if, in spite of everything, you do need to make a claim, we can handle it for you.

Allowing you a calm, silent night.


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.


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.


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.

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.

 

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?

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.

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.