If you’ve got a property insurance claim, be it fire, theft, flood, subsidence, escape of water or storm damage there can be quite a number of pitfalls that may prevent you from getting the outcome you desire (every penny you deserve).
So we’ve put together this epic guide that
If your property insurance claim is urgent and you’d like to speak to us you can call us on +7782 195 455 or email us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Use a Broker.
I’m going to be blunt with you. Insurance contracts are dull boring documents, and most of the time you simply won’t be bothered to read all the small print. Even if you do, the chances of you understanding the document are slim.
This is where a good independent insurance broker comes in. They will establish from you, the type of cover you require. They will then search the market and find you the most comprehensive cover at the best price.
This really must be the starting point on your insurance journey. The good news with this, is not only should your broker get you the best cover, but must explain to you what is covered, what is not and all the things you should/should not do, to comply with Insurers requirement, so that in the event of a claim, you should (and I stress the word ‘should’) be covered.
Finally, if for any reason your broker has provided you with incorrect advice, or set the policy up wrongly, then you have a decent chance of recovery against them, as opposed to if you went to the market on your own.
2. Make sure you do your research.
This sound obvious, but so many people have no idea what it is they need to insure, and when it comes to completing a Statement of Fact with Insurers (when you request cover) the information is wrong or incomplete. Below are some of the key areas of information you need to know about in some detail.
- Buildings- Age of construction. Type of construction (i.e. brick and tiled). Usage (i.e.residential/commercial/shop with residential upper part/restaurant/house/flat etc.). Occupancy- is it owner occupied/rented/leasehold/freehold.
- Contents – what do you have. General household contents/high-risk items/valuables/artwork. Do you have photos/receipts/inventory/valuation certificates. Are the contents yours/ family members/guest/tenants
- Stock – what stock do you have is a shop/restaurant/garage etc.? Do you do regular stock takes/reconciliation? If not, you should. How are they shown in your accounts? Photos/receipts/value/periods of increased stock. How are they stored?
- Machinery- List all machinery with full ID makes/models etc. Keep all receipts and maintenance records safe. If leased keep copy agreements and service history. Value?
- Business interruption – know your turnover/sales weekly, monthly etc. Know your gross profits, keep your annual/management accounts handy. Make sure you are insured for Loss of Profits/Loss of Income/Denial of access/Increased costs of working. Discuss with your broker.
- Loss of Rent – If you are a landlord, ensure your rented property insurance covers you for loss of rent in the ‘event’ the property is uninhabitable. You will need copy tenancy agreements, records of rental income etc.
- Alternative accommodation – This is important cover if say your home becomes uninhabitable after a fire or flood etc. This can often be more expensive than the repair costs themselves, so ensure you have ample cover if say you need to move out for 6 months!
3. Make sure your adequately insured.
I cannot tell you enough how important it is for you to ensure you are not only insured for the right things (see 2 above) but that you are adequately insured. If not, your property insurance claim will not go the way you want it to.
I’m only going to focus on the basic household cover.
This means, if your house will cost £500,000 to rebuild, you must insure for the full rebuild cost. NB This is not the same as the market value. Forget that. You need an up to date rebuilding cost valuation. You can get this from a recent mortgage valuation, or you can ask a building surveyor to advise you.
The same goes for your contents. You need to understand and work out what it would cost to replace
The best way to do this is to grab a pen and paper and create a section for each room i.e. bedroom 1, 2 3, living room, kitchen etc.
Then write down all the items (by category i.e. furniture, clothes, free-standing appliances, carpets, curtains) and place a value against each to reflect what it would cost if you had to replace them today. Once you’ve done this add them all up. To do
You should really do this exercise every few years as your contents are likely to increase the longer you stay in one place and if you have a growing family.
Now, if you have a property insurance claim and you Insurers think you are underinsured, then woe betide you. You may have a big problem. Insurers have several crafty weapons up their sleeve, to kick you when you are down.
They may reduce your claim to reflect the percentage you are underinsured, or they may refuse to deal with your property insurance claim. They could even void your policy as if it never existed.
So, you have been warned.
4. Check policy limits
There are likely to be several limits that will apply as follows:
- Valuable/High Risk (as defined in the policy)
- Contents in garage
- Loss of Rent/Alternative Accommodation
So please double check these to make sure they are suitable for your needs.
5. Make sure you disclose everything. Answer all their questions honestly and fully.
You have a duty both at the time you take out your policy (inception) and during the life of the policy, as well as each renewal, to tell insurers, the truth, the correct information about anything and everything that they consider to be material to the policy.
If you fail in this duty, then chances are you will have big problems when it comes to making a property insurance claim.
The key questions you need to answer accurately will be on the statement of fact (questionnaire) you complete at inception. So, make sure you know the correct answer. Don’t guess. If you are unsure, say you are unsure and if Insurers want to know more, they will ask you.
If anything changes you must always tell Insurers so they can decide if they want to carry on insuring you and on what terms.
This is one of the biggest problem areas I see and gives Insurers the biggest and best chance to kick your property insurance claim and your policy into touch.
This is a very complicated a fast-moving area of Insurance law, so consider yourself warned. I have merely provided a teeny fraction of what you need to know here.
6. Read any policy warranties or endorsements that specifically apply to your policy.
Ensure strict compliance – when Insurers agree to insure you, it is often on the basis that you either do something or don’t do something.
Either way, if Insurers require something of you, then please ensure you do it 100%. Any minor breach of a warranty or endorsement can lead to a whole heap of trouble for your property insurance claim. Here are some common requirements:
- Alarms- you have a specific type of approved alarm fitted, in operation and with a maintenance contract in place.
- Locks – you have
certainspecified locks on doors and window, which must be engaged when you are out.
- Unoccupancy- you cannot leave the property unoccupied for more than 30/60 days.
- Heating- when the weather is below a certain temperature, you must leave the heating on specified setting.
- Record keeping – You must keep up to date receipts for certain items (i.e. Jewellery specified) over a certain value
The list is endless. The point is, if you are asked to do something, do it or you will be facing a big battle to get your property insurance claim paid.
7. Always notify insurers of any material/significant changes, not just at policy renewal.
I’ve already covered this, but its worth repeating again and again. So, for example if you add an extension to you house, you need to tell Insurers a) you are having major works done and b) that your home is now a 4 bed and not a 3-bed house. Unless you tell them how will they know.
If you decide you want to advertise you home on Air BnB and rent a room, then please tell insurers. They may be Ok, but they tell you they won’t cover you anymore.
There are way too many scenarios to mention, so please use your common sense.
8. Always insist on getting a written confirmation of changes or notifications you give to Insurers or your brokers.
This underpins all the above. Written records are crucial
9. Keep a file with all your insurance docs in for safekeeping.
- Insurance schedule
- Full policy wording
- Statement of fact
- Renewal docs
- Evidence of compliance with warranties i.e. alarm
- Value at risk calculation for contents etc. etc
- Claim files
10. Instruct an independent Loss Assessor to help when you have a claim.
I’ve barely scratched the surface with you here. But as you can see insurance is a minefield and Insurers have all the cards.
When you have a property insurance claim, you need to be damn sure you have dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s, or you will feel like David facing Goliath.
Over the last 30 years of dealing with insurance claims, I’ve gone into battle with Insurers and their Loss Adjusters daily. I’ve not always come out on top or unscathed, but most of the time we get excellent results as we know how to navigate the arena.
30 years of hard-fought experience dealing with 1000’s of claims is quite an achievement and you can take advantage of our knowledge when the time comes.
You may not need our expertise, and if so the tips above are just that – tips. You may, however, decide you need our guidance. If so, we are here for you too. We highly recommend at the very least you pick up a free copy of our bestselling book The Five Deadly Sins That Can Destroy Your Insurance Claim – You can get your copy here.
Alternatively if you’d like to speak with us about your property insurance claim you can contact us on +7782 195 455 or email us directly at email@example.com
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