One more landlord has had a huge shock when it was discovered the tenant of his property had turned it into a cannabis farm, leaving it completely uninhabitable. This is just not something you would ever envisage happening – especially if you have carefully vetted the possible tenant or used the services of an agent to do this. In your worst nightmare, you wouldn't expect this to be possible, and yet it happens.
In this case, the kitchen and bathroom were ripped out, there were holes drilled throughout the property and there was massive water damage (from watering the plants, one supposes). The landlord was led to believe that there was one tenant residing at the property – whom the landlord had never met as he dealt via an agent. He had no reason to believe anything sinister was happening.
Things got worse, too. Once the state of the property was ascertained, the poor landlord had another massive shock – his insurers stated that a malicious damage claim was not valid under the terms of his insurance policy and they would only accept a claim under 'unauthorised alteration cover' – which would pay out the princely sum of £12,000 – no- where need the sum required to bring the property back to its former glory.
Every landlord must have insurance and yet it is easy to be caught out, and with insurance being a complicated subject, it pays to have professional advice at the purchase stage. In this case, upon realising he had to take on the insurers in a battle, the gentleman concerned hired a chartered surveyor and solicitor to argue his case with his insurers and eventually won his case with a £128,000 payout in 2012 – which was two years after he made his claim. Legal battles are often protracted and costly, but if the insurance policy is as water tight as can be in the first place, then situations such as this very sad case can be rectified more quickly.
Whilst this particular case hit the headlines because of the shock-horror involved, recent research by the British Insurance Broker's Association (Biba) indicates that 90% of the 206 brokers interviewed believed insurers were becoming stricter about paying claims, mainly because of the tough economic climate and a rise in fraud – which has to be paid for somehow. Nearly three quarters of the brokers also indicated that they had overturned a claim rejection by an insurer in the past year, whilst almost two thirds said they had to fight a lot harder to get claims paid.
The moral of the story is to seek professional insurance advice when buying a policy. Whilst everyone, should a dispute occur, has redress through the Financial Ombudsman Service, it is far better not to have to resort to such means. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) remains committed to ensuring that every genuine claim is paid as quickly and fairly as possible. They realise that millions of customers rely on insurance to give them financial protection should the worst happen, and this is exactly why the industry exists.
Like it or not, many problems relating to insurance policies stem from the increasing number of insurance policies sold online, with consumers making decisions on pricing whilst remaining unaware of what their policy covers. Home insurance is complicated – buying something cheap and cheerful on line may leave you horribly out of pocket if you make a claim which is subsequently not covered. The risks involved in purchasing incorrect insurance are huge and simply not worth taking.
Using the services of a professional insurance broker allows you to talk through your requirements and secure the most suitable – and watertight – insurance policy to suit your unique needs. Westhill Insurance Services is a reputable and long-establish insurance broker with an excellent track record. We do not simply sell insurance policies – we are there for you, our customer, should you need to make a claim. We will be on your side, fighting your corner and supporting you throughout the claims process. Our expertise is at your disposal and our friendly and knowledgeable team will be there for you when you need them.
There are a few points you should bear in mind when buying your insurance – whatever it is for, and these comprise:
> When you arrange your insurance make sure you understand what you require and the risks that you have
> Disclose all the information the insurer requires. If you do not answer honestly, this may result in a claim being invalidated
> Make sure you understand completely what your insurance covers – always ask if you are unsure
> Make sure you do not underinsure as this will lead to penalties if you need to make a claim
> The building insurance value should include professional fees and alternative accommodation – as well as VAT, removals, storage and returns in the event of a claim
> Photograph your jewellery and furniture and identify personal items worth more than specific limits – such as antiques and collectables
> Get your home and contents valued every three to five years
> Make sure you have correct locks installed on doors and windows
> Be honest – insurance companies are very hot on fraud and will look carefully at all claims
> Make sure you are covered at Christmas when you have gifts and new purchases in the house
These are a few of the things you can do to help yourself, but the most sensible way to make sure you are correctly insured is to use the services of a professional company. Just one call to Westhill Insurance Services will ensure you have sensible advice for all your insurance needs. As an independent company we will shop around to find the very best deal to suit your budget – as well as your insurance needs. Hopefully you will never encounter a situation as ghastly as the landlord and the cannabis farm, but should the worst ever happen, wouldn't it be good to know that we will be there for you?
Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.