Tag Archives: when to call a loss assessor

Does Home Insurance Have to Cost an Arm and a Leg?

If your latest home insurance quote makes you think you’re being penalised, you can rest assured — it’s not personal. The price of home insurance soared by a massive 36% in the twelve months to October 2023. So what’s caused a rise that seems out of all proportion to other costs?

  • Inflation — OK, bad as it’s been, inflation hasn’t got anywhere near 36%, but the cost of building materials has risen steeply. The quotes you pass on to the insurer’s loss adjuster are likely to be significantly more than before, and this is being reflected in premiums.
  • Climate change — There have been significantly more cases of extreme weather, such as storms or flooding, which can damage your home and lead to an insurance claim. The extra costs are being passed onto customers.
  • Your area — Some areas are considered as being at greater risk than others, whether the risk is flooding or burglary. If the risk in your area is now considered greater than before, you’ll see a sharp rise in your premium.
  • Home improvement — We all got out the DIY tools over lockdown, but if you used unusual materials, that could have an impact on your premium. This is because it would cost contractors a lot more to source materials or hire specialists for replacement.

How Can You Reduce Your Insurance Costs?

There are various measures you can take to reduce your insurance costs. One simple step, if you can afford it, is to pay annually upfront, rather than in monthly instalments. You can also look at whether you need your current size of property. If all your children have left, for instance, you may be paying high insurance premiums for a home that’s bigger than your needs.

You can also make your home more secure by installing high-security locks on windows and doors, burglar alarms and security cameras. In particular, make sure your home’s secure when you leave it empty — but the less you do that, the less your insurance is going to cost. A secure home not only makes your insurance cheaper, but also gives the loss adjuster no excuse to refuse your claim.

The single most crucial step you can take, though, is to arrange your policies through a good insurance broker, rather than trying to do it yourself. The broker will not only find you the most cost-effective policies that offer what you need, but reduce costs by bundling different policies together, where possible. You’ll not only save money, but also ensure that Allied Claims can get you what you’re entitled to, if you need to make 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.


Self-Employed Business Insurance — Even if You Don’t Do Your Own Stunts

Some self-employed occupations are rather obviously in need of insurance. If you’re a stuntperson, for instance. Or a lion tamer, or someone who swims with sharks. But what about the rest of us, who have more mundane occupations, such as an accountant, a business coach — or an insurance loss assessor?

In fact, anyone who’s self-employed needs business insurance. Without it, you could end up facing a devastating financial burden, if anything goes wrong and someone sues you. This could destroy your business and even leave you personally bankrupt.

Even if you never have to make an insurance claim, though, having business insurance can offer positive benefits. Many potential customers, for example, will be looking at what insurance you have in place before deciding whether to go with you or a competitor. You could end up recovering the monthly premium you pay many times over.

There are various types of business insurance, though. How do you know which you need?

Types of Business Insurance

  • General Liability Insurance — This is the most fundamental type of business insurance, and it’s essential for any business, from a self-employed solopreneur to a large corporation. It will protect you from claims for personal injury or property damage, as well as for non-physical injuries such as slander and libel, misrepresentation or copyright infringement. Besides the obvious financial protection in case of a claim, having a general liability insurance policy in place is often a condition for signing a contract or leasing commercial space.
  • Professional Liability Insurance — This protects businesses that offer services or advice from claims of negligence or harm due to professional misjudgement. It’s easy to make one mistake, and if you’re unlucky that single slip could result in severe fines and legal fees. Professional liability insurance will ensure you can make an insurance claim to cover these.
  • Cyber Liability Insurance — It’s a rare business these days that doesn’t have its data stored digitally, and there are criminals out there who’d love to steal it. Whether it’s your own data, your employees’ or your customers’, you have a legal obligation to safeguard it — as well as the potentially devastating effects on your business if it’s stolen, either for ransom or to sell on the black market. This could result in fines, as well as hefty legal fees, but cyber liability insurance will make sure that the insurer’s loss adjuster will have to pass your claim.
  • Property Insurance — If you have any physical premises you use to undertake your business, you’ll need to have it insured. In the event of an incident such as fire, flooding, theft or accidental damage, property insurance will allow you to replace furnishing and equipment and have the working space restored, so that you can resume use of it as quickly as possible.
  • Business Interruption Insurance — If your business is hit by a disaster like fire or flooding, it may be difficult for you to continue trading for a while until your property is restored or your equipment replaced. That could have disastrous consequences for both the survival of the business and your own livelihood. Business interruption insurance will cover any downtime, as well as providing funds to allow you to get up and running as again soon as possible — for instance, locating an alternative temporary or permanent trading premises.

You’ll probably need most or all of these forms of insurance for your self-employed business, but identifying your exact requirements can be tricky. Allied Claims would always advise you to use a good insurance broker to get the right policies — then, if you have to claim on them, we can help you get the payments 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.


Don’t Let Blocked Gutters Ruin Your Home

We’ve already been visited this autumn by Agnes, Babet, Ciaran and Debi, and no doubt they’ll be bringing along plenty of their friends soon. So you need to be ready for them.

I’m talking about this year’s storms, of course. They’ve done plenty of very visible damage, but they can have less-obvious effects — and even normal autumn weather can cause problems, too.

With leaves falling anyway, the wind is likely to be blowing them into your gutters and downpipes. And if the winds are strong, twigs and other debris can end up blocking your guttering, too.

This is a problem because it prevents your gutters and downpipes from doing their job — directing the rain that falls on your roof safely down into the drains. If the guttering is blocked, the water will either pool on your roof or spill over onto the ground below.

The first of these can result in water getting into the roofspace, causing damage and resulting in mould or mildew growing — both health hazards. In the second case, the water can get into the foundations and damage them, or even cause flooding in your home.

And the worst is that, if you have to make an insurance claim for the damage done as a result of blocked guttering, the insurer’s loss adjuster could refuse your claim on the grounds of negligence.

Take Care of Your Roof

You need to get your gutters and downpipes repaired and cleared — if possible, before the next storm hits us. If you’re confident about working on a ladder, you can simply brush the debris out of the gutters, but rodding the downpipes is a more substantial job and may need a professional. And, while you’re doing all this, don’t forget to inspect the guttering for any damage.

That isn’t the only part of the roof, though, that the loss adjuster will expect you to maintain. If you have a pitched roof, check at the same time as you’re doing the guttering whether any of the tiles or slates are broken or missing. A flat roof can develop tears, and all these types of damage can let the water in. For any of these, you’ll need to get a professional roofer in to repair them.

Safeguarding your guttering and other aspects of your roof will ensure that it can do its job of protecting you through the winter. If you need to make an insurance claim, though, you’ll need evidence that you’ve maintained it properly, so keep fully itemised receipts and have someone take photos of any work you do yourself.

Then Allied Claims can make sure you get everything you’re entitled to from your 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.


Why Would You Need Shop Insurance?

Any business needs the correct insurance in place, and retail businesses are no exception. However, if you have a shop, your insurance needs are likely to be different from most other types of business. And if you don’t have the correct shop insurance in place, the loss adjuster isn’t going to allow any insurance claim you might make.

Any retail business that operates from commercial premises needs to have shop insurance. It doesn’t necessarily have to be what’s normally thought of as a shop. For example, a café or restaurant sells to customers from a commercial premises and employs staff, so this would certainly come under the broad definition of a “shop”.

If you’re running a shop online from home, on the other hand, shop insurance doesn’t apply. That certainly doesn’t mean you don’t need insurance, but this will be different types of policy — a domestic business policy. However, your business may still qualify as a shop if you visit customers at home or their workplace.

What Does Shop Insurance Consist Of?

Shop insurance isn’t a single policy, but it can be purchased as a bundle, so there’s a single renewal process for all the components. The main elements that make up a typical shop insurance bundle are:

  • Public Liability Insurance — This offers protection against compensation claims by customers and other visitors in case of injury or property damage, as well as legal and other costs connected to the claim.
  • Employer Liability Insurance — This is essentially the same thing relating to anyone who works for you. You may not need it if you work on your own or only with close family members.
  • Shop Insurance for Premises — If you own the premises, you’ll need building insurance, though this is the responsibility of your landlord if you rent.
  • Shop Insurance for Stock — This protects your stock, especially high-value items, against fire, flood, theft or accidental damage.
  • Business Interruption Insurance — This covers you for a period during which you’re unable to trade due to an incident like fire, flood or cyber attack.

Out of these, only Employer Liability Insurance is a legal requirement, but neglecting the other policies could be fatal for your business if you need to make an insurance claim.

The are the policies that make up most core bundles of Shop Insurance, but there are plenty of other options to provide more targeted protection. These range from policies needed by a wide range of businesses, such as Product Liability and Cybercrime Insurance to more specific cover like insurance for Frozen Stock Loss or Loss of Liquor Licence.

The best plan is to go through your options with a good insurance broker, to make sure you’re covered for what you need. Then, if you need to make a claim, Allied Claims can ensure the loss adjuster pays out what you’re due.


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.


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.

 

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.

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?

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.

Here’s Your Chance to Throw Away £20,000

I recently worked with a client who was making an insurance claim for £50,000. It was a good claim, too, with nothing the loss adjuster could object to — except for one little detail. It turned out the claimant was underinsured by 40%.

The result? Instead of receiving the £50,000 needed to make the necessary repairs to their property, this person only got £30,000 and had to pay out for the rest. They might as well have thrown that £20,000 in the bin — simply because they didn’t check the Average Clause on their insurance policy.

When you initially insure your home, the insurer will request its “insurance value”, which will become the sum for which your home is insured. This will be used to calculate the premium you pay on your policy, as well as the amount that can be paid out if you need to make a claim.

If the figure you’ve given the insurer is too low, you’ll be underinsured. It’s not difficult to get the right figure when you first take out the policy. The problem comes if you simply let it be renewed year after year without updating the information, while the actual market value of your home leaves that figure far behind.

The Condition of Average

So why should this be a problem? The reason, of course, is that any insurance claim you make would involve asking the insurer for more than your premium covers, and no business would survive if they allowed that to happen. So all policies allow the insurer to apply the Condition of Average.

This specifies that if, for example, you’ve only declared 50% of the insurance value, you’ve only paid 50% of the premiums and the loss adjuster will only allow 50% of your claim. If you were claiming £50,000, with an excess of £250, for a property worth twice the declared value, 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 think you might not be up to date under the Average Clause, consult your insurance broker as soon as possible. Alternatively, of course, you’re always welcome to get in touch with us for a chat about it.