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Listed Buildings – fire, the nightmare most dreaded

Fire in a listed building is enough to send cold shivers down the spine of any listed property owner. As an owner – and custodian – of a listed building, you have a duty to manage the disaster and ultimately the reconstruction and repair work. The obvious starting point is with the property's insurers.

With a fire incident the building firstly suffers the destruction of the fire itself affecting the structural components and fabric and smoke infiltration to every area. The fire is then doused with masses of fire service water, saturating what remains and if the roof has been lost in the process the interior is then exposed to the weather elements that will enable even more decay. The picture seems bleak.

Dealing with the overall calamity may take years from the insurance claim process, typical emergency and preservation works, statutory consents, insurance liability and loss adjuster involvement – and finally, the restoration of the building. So, in making the first call to the Building Insurers or your broker, what can you expect to be told? Well, firstly, bear in mind, that no two claims are ever the same – which is why it pays to take specialist advice when you purchase your listed building insurance. Speak with a solid, professional company – Westhill Insurance Services will supply all the advice and guidance you need. With their long history of dealing with listed properties, they can offer sympathetic and pragmatic advice which will stand custodians of these wonderful properties in good stead – especially should the worst happen.

Here is a general overview of how a claim may initially proceed.

> With an experienced team handling claims for listed buildings, their experience will be vital when dealing with the specialist concerns of such a property
> Upon notification of a loss, the insurers will usually look to immediately engage an internal claims manager or external loss adjuster with the intention of making a site visit within a day or two
> Before that visit takes place, the insurer should explain the nature of the claim process and help their policyholder as much as possible. The insurer should outline what help the policyholder may expect and perhaps offer a schedule of events
> When the claim manager or loss adjuster attend the site they will want to learn about the property, the accident, operations at the site – indeed any important information regarding the cause of the fire and the repairs required
> They will complete a review of the sum insurance value, policy inception dates and authorised activities at the site to help validate the claim and to ensure there is no reason for matters not to proceed
> If the cause of the fire is not clear, a forensic scientist may be engaged to investigate the site and debris before it is cleared
> Alternative accommodation (hotels, rented houses, static caravans) will be discussed and measures put in place to relocate
> Funds may be immediately transferred from insurers to assist with emergency purchases (such as clothing, etc)
> Emergency works may be instructed and a contractor attend to secure the buildings, fence off the site and tarpaulin the roof, if it is safe to do so

There is a great deal of complex planning to make sure a claim of this nature proceeds properly. At times like this, you need someone you can depend on. That is why having Westhill Insurance Services on your side is so important. Give us a call NOW and just have a chat about your listed property and let us offer you some good advice: then when your insurance policy is due for renewal you will have an alternative to consider. We understand that professional support, good service and value for money is of paramount importance – but then so too is knowing you will be dealing with someone who is sympathetic, sensible and approachable, someone who really cares about you as a person, not just a policyholder. Westhill Insurance Services, where listed buildings and their custodians are truly respected.

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 5th August, 2012