Tag Archives: Property Insurance Claims Management

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.

Loss Assessors and Loss Adjusters — Under No Circumstances Get Them Mixed Up

As independent loss assessors, we sometimes find that people assume we’re actually loss adjusters. It may seem like a small difference — but it’s not. Imagine confusing your accountant with the taxman. Or embarking on a court case with being sure which lawyer is on which side. Not a mistake you really want to make.

A loss adjuster is employed by the insurance company, and as such their main focus is to save their employers from paying out anything the claimant doesn’t have the right to. Fair enough — except that they’re experts, and you’re not. And that means you might end up being penalised for an honest mistake.

That’s where loss assessors like Allied Claims come in. When you need to make an insurance claim, a loss assessor is an insurance expert fighting your corner. We’ll make sure you’re not being denied a pay-out you should be entitled to.

Like the taxman and the opposing lawyer, a loss adjuster isn’t doing anything wrong. They’re professionals carrying out their job — but they’re not on your side. A loss assessor is.

Why Should You Use a Loss Assessor?

So why should you use a loss assessor? What’s wrong with managing your own insurance claim? Well, you can if you choose, and if yours is one of those rare claims where everything is cut and dried, that may be good enough. For most claims, however, the help a loss assessor can offer could prove crucial.

  • An expert in your corner — The insurer will have armies of professionals, from loss adjusters to lawyers, who can pick holes in your claim. A loss assessor is at least as expert, and will know exactly what to challenge in the insurer’s arguments.
  • Getting what you’re entitled to — Insurers’ claim forms can be confusing to the lay person. It’s all too easy to make a simple error that results in getting less than you should — or even nothing. A loss assessor will guide you through the process, making sure there are no errors.
  • Speeding up the process — It’s all too common for insurance claims to drag on, while you’re coping without anything from valuable possessions to your home. A loss assessor will know exactly how the process works and can make sure your claim goes through as quickly as possible.
  • Cutting down the stress — Like any unknown territory, making an insurance claim can be both stressful and time consuming. A loss assessor will take on negotiating with the loss adjuster and the innumerable professionals you need quotes from. You’ll be kept updated, so that you know exactly where you stand at all times.

Just like a lawyer or an accountant, a loss assessor like Allied Claims is an expert professional who can take the stress, delays and pitfalls out of making an insurance 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.


Young and Carefree? Not if You’re Under-Insured

When you’re young, you’re often confident about everything. That’s fine — but, if you haven’t made sure your possessions are correctly insured, your insurer’s loss adjuster isn’t going to be impressed by your confidence.

A recent study found that around two thirds of householders under 25 — as opposed to only 17% of over-54s — are unaware of the risks of under-insuring their possessions. And overall people renting are more likely than homeowners not to be clued in — the figure here is 47%.

If this includes you, it leaves you at risk of not receiving a full pay-out if you have to make an insurance claim on your contents policy. The three main areas of concern are:

  • Accurately calculating the value of possessions — if you’ve undervalued an item, you’ll only receive up to the stated value.
  • Being aware of single-item limits — your policy is likely to have a limit on what will be paid for any specific item, unless it’s listed separately.
  • Keeping an up-to-date list of possessions listed under the policy — if you replace a dodgy second-hand TV with a brand-new 64-inch screen, guess what? It’s going to be worth more.

Three Tips to Keep Your Insurance Up-to-Date

So how do you make sure the loss adjuster will be obliged to pay out the full value of your possessions, if you have to make an insurance claim following fire, flooding, theft or accidental damage? Here are three steps you can take:

  • Revalue your possessions on a regular basis. It’s a good habit to do this every time your contents insurance policy renews, rather than rushing to sign. Also, review your possessions if you’ve made a big purchase, or after birthdays or Christmas.
  • Check carefully for any expensive items. If you have high-value possessions, such as jewellery or tech equipment, their value may not be fully covered by the policy’s single-item limit. In this case, you’ll need to get your broker to have these items listed individually.
  • Use online valuation tools. If you’re having problems getting an accurate valuation, there’s a wealth of online resources that can help you. Your insurance broker should be able to point you in the right direction.

Having your possessions damaged or stolen is traumatic enough, without finding you’re not adequately covered by your insurance. Allied Claims would encourage everyone, young or old, to make sure all their valuations are completely up-to-date. That way, if you have to make a claim, we can ensure that you get the full value for each item.


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.


Don’t Rely on Luck to Keep Your Home Insurance Valid

You might assume that, if you take out home insurance and keep the payments up, you’ll get a pay-out if something unfortunate happens. That’s mostly true, as long as it’s something covered in the policy — but there are exceptions.

The culprit is all that small print — the lines you have to strain to make out even with your glasses on. It all seems too much trouble to plough your way through it all, and it doesn’t really matter, anyway.

Except that it does. That small print might alert you to things that could allow the insurer’s loss adjuster to turn down your insurance claim and declare your policy invalid.

What to Avoid (or Notify Your Insurer About)

  • Leaving Doors and Windows Open — You may feel safe enough to leave windows open or doors unlocked if you pop out for a few minutes. Unfortunately, your insurer won’t agree, and if you should be burgled, they’re likely to refuse to pay.
  • Leaving Your Home Empty — If you leave your home unoccupied for an extended period (usually either over 30 days or over 60 days) your policy could be invalidated. You may need to arrange unoccupied home insurance.
  • Major Alterations — If you make major alterations, such as an extension or loft conversion, your insurance may not cover damage during the work, and the policy may need to be adjusted to reflect the changes. Make sure you contact your insurer well before the work starts.
  • Poor Home Maintenance — The policy will almost certainly require you to keep the property in reasonable condition. Failure to clear out the guttering or take action on signs of pest infection, for instance, could have far-reaching consequences for your home — and your insurer may not pay out if you haven’t taken action.
  • Dog or Cat Flaps — It wouldn’t be easy for a burglar to get in through a pet flap, but your insurer may regard it as possible and treat it as making your home insecure. Ideally, talk to your insurer before you install the flap, but let them know anyway.
  • Working from Home — Many home policies specifically exclude work-related claims. If you work from home, even if only occasionally, you need to inform your insurer. It may mean slightly higher premiums, but you’ll be covered.
  • An Insecure Key-Safe — There’s nothing wrong with having a key-safe to allow a trusted person (e.g. for a cleaner or pet-sitter) to get in, but make sure it’s high enough quality to be secure, otherwise your policy could be compromised.
  • Taking in a Lodger — Renting out a spare room can be a good way to boost your income, but your insurer needs to know if someone else is living in your home. You may need to adjust your policy, or even take out a new one.

Failure to be careful or to inform your insurer about a change could well mean that the loss adjuster would turn down any insurance claim you make on your property, declaring that you’ve invalidated the policy. Of course, you might get lucky and having nothing to claim on — but at Allied Claims we wouldn’t advise anyone to rely on luck where insurance is concerned.


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.


Why Does My Property for Rent Have Two Values?

If you’re getting your property valued for a Landlord Insurance policy, you’d think you could just look at a final figure in the calculation, and that’s what the property’s worth. Simple.

Well, you’d think…

In fact, what you’ll find is that your property may have either or both of two different valuations — Buildings Declared Value (BDV) and Buildings Sum Insured (BSI). But it gets even more confusing, because these aren’t necessarily the terms that will be used in your policy. The BDV might be described as the declared value and the BSI as the sum insured.

However they’re described, though, it’s essential that you understand what these valuations represent, and that you have the appropriate one on your policy. Otherwise, if you have to make an insurance claim, you may not get as much as you need from the insurer’s loss adjuster.

What Are the Two Types of Valuation?

So why are there two different ways of valuing your property? Shouldn’t the value be the value? And which one will ensure you get the correct payout on your insurance claim?

BDV or declared value — This is the straightforward rebuild cost, taking into account the value of the bricks and mortar, as well as fixtures such as fitted kitchens and bathrooms. It also covers outbuildings and car parks, as well as extra cost, such as professional fees and removal of debris. However, it doesn’t cover considerations like the land’s value or how desirable the area is. Also, the valuation is for the day the policy begins, so if you have a BDV, you may need to have the property regularly revalued.

BSI or sum insured — This will be a higher sum than the BDV, since it takes into account inflation in building costs or appreciation in market value since the policy began. This is particularly important at the moment, since the price of building materials has soared since the pandemic, while there are likely to be delays in getting the work done. That’s likely to push the total rebuilding cost even further up.

It’s tempting, with so much else keeping you busy, to put your insurance policy away and forget about it, but this could be disastrous. It’s vital to look at it regularly (or, better still, have an insurance broker look at it) and check whether it needs to be updated. Then, if you do have to make a claim, Allied Claims can make sure that the loss adjuster has no choice but to pay you the full repair or rebuilding sum.


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.

Moped Menace — The New Crash for Cash Epidemic

The “crash for cash” scam isn’t a new thing, but a new variant is sweeping North London — delivery drivers on mopeds. The “traditional” version tends to involve car drivers braking suddenly to make the vehicle behind go into the back of them, but this new type sees moped riders coming out from hiding at the last moment and driving straight into the front of a car.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) describes this moped menace as an “epidemic”, with about 2,250 motorists targeted in London in the past two years. The majority of cases have been in North London. Quite apart from the financial impact (insurance firms estimate they’ve paid out at least £27 million in insurance claims for these scams), many of the victims have been left traumatised by the incidents.

Many of the fraudsters are thought to be delivery drivers, often delivering takeaways, and they tend to operate in more affluent areas. They sometimes work with an accomplice, either as a “witness” or providing a van to hide behind and emerge at the last moment to force the crash. They then tend to fake injury, in order to persuade the insurer’s loss adjuster to award them a higher pay-out.

What to Do About Crash for Cash Scams

Mark Allen, head of fraud and financial services at the Association of British Insurers, considers that “Staged crash for cash scams are a dangerous menace on our roads. Often highly organised, and constantly looking for new targets to exploit, these criminals put lives at risk.”

It’s difficult for the victim of these scams to prove their innocence and get the loss adjuster to reject the insurance claim. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do.

Both the police and the insurance industry are eager to tackle this menace. If you’re involved in an incident you suspect of being a crash for cash scam, you should immediately contact both the police and your insurer. You should also report it to the IFB’s Cheatline on 0800 422 0421.

It’s dangerous enough on the road, without criminals deliberately causing road accidents. Allied Claims offer you our sympathy if you’ve fallen foul of this scam — but reporting it may help the insurance industry make it a less attractive strategy for the fraudsters.


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.


E-Bikes and E-Scooters — a Deadly New Fire Risk

Increasingly, delivery workers are using e-bikes, which let them increase their capacity by going further and faster. Unfortunately, this has created a potentially fatal risk, if you store and charge e-bikes and e-scooters indoors. Last year, their batteries caused 216 fires, with 147 injuries and 6 deaths.

The London Fire Brigade attended two such fires on consecutive days in April, while another a few months earlier sadly resulted in a fatality. In one case, the problem was made worse because the burning bike was blocking the route of escape. In another case, the already smoking bike was moved to a communal area, allowing the fire to spread more easily.

A good deal of the problem seems to derive, as in at least one of these cases, from people buying non-standard or second-hand batteries or chargers online. This tends to happen especially when they convert an ordinary bike themselves. The electric motors often come without batteries or chargers, and many save money by buying them cheap online.

This can be extremely dangerous, since the lithium batteries used are significantly more powerful than regular batteries. If they are overcharged, overheated, crushed or penetrated, they can catch fire, or even explode. To add insult to injury, your insurer’s loss adjuster may well reject your insurance claim if carelessness charging an e-bike has caused the fire.

Staying Safe with E-Bikes and E-Scooters

  • Only buy batteries and chargers from reputable sources. There’s usually a reason why online bargains are cheap.
  • Check that your battery and charger meet UK safety standards. Warning signs include being hot to touch or going out of shape.
  • Make sure that the charger you buy is the official model for the battery. A reputable dealer will advise you on this.
  • Don’t charge your battery immediately after use. The battery is likely to heat up during use, so make sure it’s completely cooled down before charging.
  • Always unplug your charger as soon as it’s finished charging. This will be part of the manufacturers guidelines — read and follow all these guidelines.
  • Even if you follow all advice, any area where you charge is a fire risk and should be fitted with smoke alarms.
  • Whether or not you have an e-bike or e-scooter, never block your route of escape.
  • Never leave your battery on charge while you’re asleep or away from home. The rule of thumb is only charge any device if you’ll be able to smell the burning in time.

Following this advice will substantially reduce the risk of your e-bike or e-scooter causing a fire. If a fire does start in spite of everything, the loss adjuster should have no reason to turn down your insurance claim.

E-bikes and e-scooters can be both useful and fun, if used correctly. Allied Claims hope you can continuing enjoying them by staying safe.


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.


Don’t Let Your Investment Go Up in Smoke

While letting your property out to tenants can be a very successful business, there are plenty of pitfalls for the unwary. One you might not have thought of is a tenant running a cannabis farm from your property.

With an “industry” estimated to be worth £2.4 billion in England and Wales during 2021, there’s plenty of incentive to grow the drug. Unfortunately, this can be extremely expensive for the owner. Quite apart from any problems proving that you’re not legally responsible, a cannabis farm can cause plenty of damage. And, if you make an insurance claim to recover your costs, you could find the insurer’s loss adjuster turning you down.

One owner, who suffered £15,000 worth of damage in 2018, found herself unable to get any recompense, even though the letting agency she’d hired had failed to take note of the warning signs. Due to the police being unable to establish beyond reasonable doubt who had actually set up the farm, no-one was ever charged over the case — meaning that she was told she’d have no chance of reclaiming the money from either tenant or agency.

What Can You Do About It?

In 2020, 445 cannabis farms were found in London alone, with the West Midlands, Lancashire and West Yorkshire other hotspots. Nationally, 48% of investigations into electricity theft, a common part of the operation, are related to cannabis production.

If you’re a landlord, you can protect yourself against this kind of abuse in two ways. Firstly, you can ensure you work with a good letting agency, who’ll identify obvious warning signs. These might include:

  • Tenants who want to pay several months in advance in cash.
  • Tenants who fail to cooperate with inspections and who change locks.
  • Blacked-out windows and sealed vents.
  • Large amounts of condensation on the windows.
  • Electric fans running all the time.
  • Tampering with electricity meters and electric cabling.
  • A distinctive sickly-sweet smell inside the house.

At the same time, it’s important to make sure your insurance policy includes adequate cover for this situation. Many policies restrict insurance claims for cannabis farm damage to as little as £5,000, or even completely exclude them.

To make sure the loss adjuster doesn’t have a reason to refuse payment, Allied Claims would advise you to check your policy thoroughly — preferably by going through a good insurance broker, who’ll help you find a more appropriate policy, if necessary.


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.


Small Business Insurance — What Do You Need?

Are you a small business owner? The owner of a small business, that is — your personal dimensions are irrelevant. You know how difficult the current business climate is, so you need all the back-up you can get — and that includes business insurance.

So what types of insurance do you need for your business? Well, for a start, there are two that are compulsory if the conditions apply to you. If you have any employees, even a single one employed on a part-time or casual basis, you must have Employer’s Liability Insurance. This has to be worth at least £5million and obtained from authorised insurers or specialist brokers through the British Insurance Brokers’ Association.

At the same time, if your company operates one or more vehicles for business purposes, you’ll need Commercial Motor Insurance. Like normal cover, this can be for third party only, third party, fire or theft, or comprehensive, and special policies are available for vehicles such as HGV, taxies, trucks and vans.

These won’t necessarily apply to all business, however. If you’re a solopreneur, for example, you won’t need Employer’s Liability Insurance, while if you simply use your own car to get to meetings and appointments, that can be covered by normal motor insurance — as long as you inform your insurance company.

What Other Insurance Might a Small Business Need?

Those two types of insurance are legal requirements, and you can face heavy fines if you don’t have them, but there are other types of small business insurance that are just extremely advisable. These include:

  • Professional Indemnity Insurance, protecting you against claims of negligence in services you offer.
  • Public Liability Insurance, protecting you against claims for bodily or property injury resulting from negligence in your business.
  • Product Liability Insurance, protecting you against claims of damage or injury caused by your products. This is obviously unnecessary if you only provide services.
  • Business Interruption Insurance, protecting you against downtime after fire, flooding or other damage. This may be a clause of the commercial property insurance for your premises.
  • Cyber Insurance, protecting you against loss resulting from cyber attacks — today, one of the most dangerous threats to a business.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. As mentioned, you’ll need commercial property insurance for any premises, and you may want to offer perks for your employees, such as income protection insurance or private medical insurance. There are also insurance policies available against financial risks.

Allied Claims would strongly recommend that you go through an insurance broker specialising in small business insurance, who will explain what you need and what you don’t. And then, if you need to make an insurance claim on one of the policies, we can help ensure that the insurer’s loss adjuster has no reason to turn you down.


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 Dog Ate My Insurance Policy

If you’re a dog owner, you know how much mayhem they can cause when they’re in the mood. Sometimes, in fact, it can lead to owners having to make insurance claims.

According to one insurer, they handled almost 4,000 insurance claims during the five years to the end of 2022 that involved damage by dogs. And the average cost of the claims, which ranged from breaking a laptop to eating a set of dentures, was £1,200.

So, while you might assume the insurer’s loss adjuster might be sceptical about a dog-related claim, it’s likely they’ve seen something similar before. Some are pure accidents, such as a dog falling into a swimming pool and damaging the pool liner (though fortunately the dog was unhurt), while another involved a nine-stone Rottweiler standing on a phone. Inevitably, the Rottweiler came off best.

On the other hand, some of the incidents were those feats only a dog can achieve. Like walking through spilt paint and trailing it all over the living-room carpets. Or chewing a pen that leaked onto the sofa.

Then again, some dog-related claims are a little simpler. Watches, wallets and jewellery are all among the items that have been lost while walking or playing with a dog.

Are Dog-Related Incidents Covered by Your Insurance Policy?

If your dog has caused loss or damage, you’d expect that you could make an insurance claim on your home insurance policy. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Many policies specifically exclude damaged caused by chewing, scratching, tearing or fouling by domestic animals.

So how can you make sure the loss adjuster will accept your claim for canine damage? The best way is to add on a personal belongings section to your policy. This will certainly cover all those losses while out with your dog, as well as many other losses away from home, and it may also apply to damage done by dogs at home. However, it’s vital to check the wording carefully, to make sure this isn’t excluded.

And no, we’re not aware of any case of a dog eating an insurance policy. Maybe they aren’t as appetising as homework. But, if you make sure you have the appropriate cover in place, Allied Claims will be able to help you get recompense for your dog’s mischief — or accidents.


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.