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Claim Management

Problems with property damage claim?

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Introduction to Claims

If you have been affected by a fire, flood or other building or disater damage, your insurance will probably have a requirement for you to mitigate the damage. This means you should take all practical steps to minimise the present or ongoing damage. This could be as simple as turning off the water in a leak situation. You should notify your insurers of any claim as quickly as possible! Alternatively you may wish to enlist the help of competent contractors directly.

Specific risk NEWS

Two new specific risks have materialised in post damage or disaster recovery. The future sale of private property or indeed freehold or leasehold liabilities identifies the need to declare any specific occurrence which may affect the safety or value of the property. This typically may require the details of any fire or flood event and will require proof that the restoration works were completed properly. This may include the guarantee that mould or possible asbestos contamination has been properly addressed. (See mould and asbestos sections)Asbestos in particular may have significant concerns as new legislation in 2007allows unlicensed contractors to undertake previously licensed works which may result in contamintion issues as no clearance evidence is required. This fact coupled to the reduced clearance acceptable levels means that surveyors are more likly to be instructed to sample for clearance.


The reality of damage or disaster events is that there are two types of claim, insured and not insured. People experiencing the former will quite rightly expect their insurers to provide either the resources or payment to rectify their loss. Equally most who have had claims settled would reluctantly agree that the cost and time frame to completion could have been much lower if they had been paying the bill. Lower costs are a major issue when insurance is not in place and it may be possible to reduce your costs by the simple procedures of management. This can be broken down into several stages and may greatly depend on circumstances or events. Remember you can use this site as a reference source for both information and contractors compliance issues.

Insurance based Claims

The majority of disaster or damage claims will be settled fairly by Insurance companies. Insurers may undertake the restoration on your behalf by utilising their own in house claim management service which may include claims advisors, nominated contractors and in house loss adjusters. This may or may not be the most suitable answer for the insured. This route is not available from all Insurers, but under the terms of your policy you may be able to utilise your own choice of contractors. With regard to insurance policies for content, two main types are offered, which are listed as follows;

Indemnity

This is where your contents may be replaced but an adjustment to value will be taken into account regarding wear and tear.

Replacement policy

This is a new for old replacement. This means you must be sure of your policy before you raise your expectations. Remember what ever insurance you have it is generally a condition that you do everything you can to mitigate the loss, this means reduce any damage or causation where ever possible.

Loss Adjusters

These are industry specific roles and they are trained to undertake the fair interpretation of your policy and ensure that your claim is settled in a fair and reasonable way. They are usually appointed by the Insurance Company that has covered your claim, but even though a conflict of interest may be concluded they do provide an easy route for reasonable and fair settlement. While the integrity of most adjusters is not challenged, they are there to satisfy both you and their employers ,”the Insurer” and a conflict of interest can only be assumed. Equally while many have years of experience younger less expensive or indeed qualified compatriots seemingly replace them today. This can often lead situations where the loss adjuster is running your claim on very basic or limited understanding of damage but a comprehensive grasp of fiscal control.

Loss Assessors. (Public Adjusters) USA

These are totally independent and usually work directly for the insured or claimant. They will assess all ramifications and implications of the disaster or damage scene. Typically they may asses the loss of value, disruptive costs or compensation elements along with the usual assessments of the loss adjuster. They are generally experts in policy reading and will ensure that your claim is settled to your best interest. They usually although not always, operate on a percentage of claim cost so it is in their best interest to get the best possible settlement for you.

Even though an Insurer may run your claim through either appointed or in house teams , you can directly contact loss assessors to work for you if you are not convinced of fair play, remember though that you may have to pay up to 10% of the claim award to your assessor. Your and the assessors judgement will revolve around the likelihood of raising the claim settlement high enough to cover the additional costs although some Insurance policies may pay for the services of a loss assessor.

Example 1

A flood has affected you; the insurer appoints a contractor and loss adjuster. They have agreed between themselves to clean and salvage your contents and undertake building restoration work on your behalf. The claim is expected to be in the region of £25,000. Works proceed slowly and you are not happy about some of the results or proposed actions and time frames. You request the services of a loss assessor who immediately negotiates for you to be moved to alternative premises as a health threat and unacceptable disruption exists. He requests replacement of all affected items in the absence of guarantees. The claim cost escalates to £40,000.

Example 2

A fire has affected your premises, the claim cost is expected to be in the region of £40,000 loss adjusters and contractors agree to clean and decontaminate or replace all affected items that cannot be restored. You require all items to be replaced and hire a loss assessor for an agreed fee of 10% of the total claim. The restoration was totally acceptable and the assessor services were not successful, but the insured were still faced with the Assessors bill for £4,000 as 10% of the claim cost. Of course this situation was unlikely to happen as loss assessors would have identified the possible outcome and duly advised. As with all contracts they should provide an outline of expected results and offer win/win situation for both sides.

Contractor Choice

The insurance industry in an ever increasing need to reduce costs and increase profits have identified contracted or nominated contractors as a benefit. Historically people who were insured had the cost of repairs or replacement covered by their policy and Insures would invariably ask for alternative quotes and settle on the cheapest. Times have changed and the insurers identified that the restoration was not in their control The result has been the formation of major contracts within a handful of suppliers who each year reduce costs in an effort to retain their contracts. Cost reduction is usually associated withy less training or competence and although some nominated contractors may be competent the majority will only provide service levels agreed which does not usually include the qualification or training of the technician who turns up at your door. The bottom line is you are insured for damage and how you undertake the repair may be your choice. This means you may not have to accept the contractor imposed on you and can shop around for the most suitable.

Contractor liability

Two types of contractor are available those which are imposed on the insured policyholder and one which may be selected. Both have different legal responsibilities and the following is a guide only.

Imposed nominated contractor

When a commercial organisation such as an insurer, provides a contractor to work in your property they must by law, (reg 3 H and SW) act be confident on their competence. Competence is recognised by inspection and audit of work and cannot be identified by certification or past experience alone. Where contractors have failed to undertake work in a competent or legal manner you may have redress to the supplier. Where work is undertaken in commercial or places of work, the employer may also be legally responsible for any actions the contractor which may affect the health or well being of employees.

Selected contractors

Similar responsibilities exist to the above and you are advised to request proof of competence and satisfy yourself that work will be undertaken in a professional and safe manner.

Complaints

Where a dispute arises their are various trade bodies who may intervene and offer dispute resolution or advice.

Related Links

Association of British Insurers (ABI)
Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters
Institute of Public Loss Assessors - No Website. Contact Telephone: 01494 782342

Introduction to Uninsured

Unfortunately some people are either under-insured not insured at all. Disaster advice web site will provide useful information and the forum will provide a useful resource where others can provide information, assistance or comment under the guidance of the moderator.

While some unfortunate people affected by disaster may not be insured, all is not lost and they may find that following simple advice will reduce their loss and more importantly cost and disruption. Many insurers are conservative in their approach to new technology and various companies are listed that may be able to reduce restoration or recovery times and cost by utilising salvage and speed drying techniques.

One of the main concerns today is the wide area flooding and many people previously insured may today have insurance cover refused. While Insurance claims for flood restoration are usually very high the reality is that most insurers are substantially overcharged either intentionally or throughout the incompetence of their nominated or preferred contractor. Most people previously affected by flooding would complain that drying took months but various new technology can substantially reduce the time frame and increase the salvage potential.

Typically the general concept of drying buildings is to install a dehumidifier which pulls water from the exterior to the internal walls which results in the decorative finish surface, being the last to dry, this process is completely against the rules or thermo dynamics and common sense, but it sells dehumidifiers and keeps contractors busy. When you have to pay for restoration yourself, consider using technology which dries fro the inside to out and reduce your costs.

Uninsured Claim Management (Example flood event)

  • Identify the potential for damage, e.g. flood plain.
  • Assess likely damage areas and how to reduce effect, e.g. Prepare to raise or move furnishings.
  • Identify engineering controls, such as sand bags or temporary barriers.
  • Self help as a group to assist neighbours and each other as a unified front.
  • Plan post damage action, enlist contractors who understand speed-drying techniques, or follow industry guidelines such as BRE or Ciria information sheets.
  • Understand how to dry and sanitise your building before you need it.
  • Prevent secondary damage by prompt action.
  • Delay often inflates costs.
  • Identify salvage and restoration experts in your area today!
  • Remember that while you may have rights to replacement under insurance terms, many items normally replaced could be salvaged.
Insurance is obviously your best option but where cover is not available, solutions do exist to minimise your cost and disruption. New technology available can substantially reduce the time to dry and simple restoration and cleaning can return damaged items to almost new. The key is to find support from each other, from contractors and consultants who can guide you either individually or as a group. Where high value properties on flood plains are uninsurable, it may be possible to contract out restoration at pre-arranged costs with local contractors who may be able to minimise damage and restoration cost to mutual benefit.

Claim Closure

This is the point at which the claim is believed to have been settled and all damage repaired or restored to original condition, where known. Unfortunately many latent or hidden damage areas may exist which may at some point in the future materialises. This can be prevented to some extent by the use of third party inspections during or post completion. Typical assessments may include a review of protocol, measurements of cleanliness, decontamination, air quality and biological, chemical and mould related sampling.

What we provide

Audits of work and protocol, liaison with contractors and analysis of competence, site inspections, clearance certification and expert witness support.

We work for you and our fees will invariably be paid by insurers.Contact us advice 08700 789 999 or (email)

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