Tips on making a claim on your home insurance
January 12, 2016
Hiscox customer Dr John Urquhart offers some insightful tips on making a claim on your home insurance, having been through the process when his bathroom suffered a troublesome leak. (Such diligence isn’t strictly necessary with Hiscox, as we aim to make the process as hassle-free for you as possible. You only need to be as involved as you want to be. But you may find some of these tips helpful).
I recently had the experience of making a claim against my home insurance with Hiscox (and I wrote about the experience); it went very smoothly, but there are things I learned which another person, finding him- or herself in a similar situation, might find useful to keep in mind. Here they are:
Contact your insurer asap
Contact your insurer as soon as you think there is even a small chance that an event might precipitate a claim. If it happens that no claim arises, nothing is lost. For example, you drop an iron on the kitchen counter, resulting in a little crack, not worth bothering about. Two weeks later, a dirty great big split in the marble opens up… see what I mean?
Keep your correspondence
Keep a contemporaneous recording of contact with contractors, noting the timing of calls and the name of individual with whom you spoke. Let your OCD run wild and unrestrained. Most correspondence will be accomplished by email. Keep the emails. If your inbox has a function that discards emails after two weeks, disable it. Better still, create a folder, label it “My subsidence” or something memorable, and put things in there. Microsoft Outlook, for example, will allow you to keep documents other than emails in an Outlook folder, so spreadsheets and attachments can be kept in there, too.
Inform contractors of upcoming events
Let them know of anything from birthdays to dinner parties in advance so they can plan around them. This will help avoid long delays. We had builders in on our wedding day, but that’s another story. As a sweeping generalisation, (and I like sweeping generalisations) builders first, then plumbers, then decorators.
Develop a good relationship with your loss adjuster
STOP – what is a loss adjuster? When you make a claim against an insurer, that insurer is said to have suffered a loss; the adjuster, well, adjusts the loss, advising in the fair and just settlement of claims. The important thing is that the adjuster is independent of both the insurer and the claimant – he must be seen to be impartial. He prevents the insurer from being ripped off, but also sees to it that the claimant receives that which he is entitled to under the terms of the insurance policy, the contract, that he has entered into.
Phew. The loss adjuster (if one is appointed – there may be no need in smaller claims) is there to help you. Does the whole floor need to be taken up, or can a reasonable repair be made by taking up only the damaged part? The adjuster controls the purse strings, and will approve or refuse work to be done or property to be replaced.
Generate good will with neighbours
If the area of damage adjoins another property, ask the people next door if it has encroached on their property. It will generate good will rather than have them knock on your door at a later date complaining that there is a damp stain on the wall between your properties.
Keep these few things in mind and I think you’ll find that things go better than you might have expected.
And if you want to be really diligent…
Take photos at Intervals, for instance, of the development of a stain on a ceiling as the result of a leak in the room above. This wasn’t required by Hiscox, but I did find it helpful to have them.
Establish boundaries of responsibility – for example, the plumber installs the bathroom suite and the builder repairs the wall, but whose responsibility is the seal between bath and wall? Make sure it’s written in an email between you and the plumber, and the builder.
If you want to (and I did), take a lead. Buy a hard hat and a high-vis vest and call yourself “Project Manager.” No, leave out the hat. But do take it upon yourself to timetable events to suit you and the progress of the work. Builders and plumbers will have up to ten or more jobs at varying stages ongoing at any time, and to some extent, he who asks regularly gets it done first. Shyness has no place.