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Consumer - Insurance Claims after The Big Freeze

Friday, 22 January 2010

Tina Leonard,Consumer Expert

Home / Building Insurance

What it covers:

. Building insurance
. Contents insurance
. All-risks cover
. Liability insurance

Tips and scenarios - there will be many scenarios where people's houses have been damaged with the extreme weather we have had in the last month or so. Here are the scenarios and where in your policy you should be covered.

1. For damage caused by escaping water from tanks, pipes or heating systems, this should be covered under a standard contents and building insurance policy.

The advice is to be able to locate your stopcock so that if pipes burst you can turn off the water supply. You should also switch off central heating and any other water heating installation at the time to minimize water damage. Then you open all the taps to drain the system.

2. If you live in an apartment building and burst pipes in you or your neighbour's apartment has caused damage then there will be a joint buildings insurance policy held by the management company, so contact them for assistance. For damage to contents use your own contents insurance.

3. Snow damage to your home is usually covered under a 'storm' damage provision on your buildings policy, so that should be fine. Of course if you only discover a leaky roof because of the snow, but the damage was already there, the cover doesn't apply.

4. The biggest problem for claimants will be on second / holiday homes that have been unoccupied. Terms and conditions on policies for second homes tend to be more stringent as there is more risk if a property is unoccupied. The t&c will stipulate what you must do when you are away from your property for any length of time, such as switching off the gas, the mains electricity and the water supply to the house. If your policy stipulates this and you left the water mains on for example, and subsequently your pipes burst you may not be covered.

+The advice for holiday home owners is to arrange for your water and central heating pipes to be drained when you're away; leave a key with a neighbour / friend who can check on the house.

5. If you have liability insurance it may cover anyone claiming for slipping on your doorway, for example.

6. In some cases an insurance policy on your home will state that whether it is your first or second home you cannot leave your home unattended for more that 30 days. If something was to happen after those 30 days as a result of your home being unoccupied you will not be covered.


Motor Insurance

What are the types? (Again the information is in additional information for the presenter but we do not want to discuss the different types of motor insurance in detail)

. Third-party cover
. Third-party, fire and theft cover
. Comprehensive cover

Tips and Scenarios

1. If you skidded into another car, you may have damaged your own car as well as the other persons. The other person can claim off your insurance whether you have third party or comprehensive cover. However, if you damaged your own car in the collision and want to claim to pay for your own car's repair work, you'll only be able to this if you have comprehensive cover.

2. If another car skidded into you, then you can claim off their policy, assuming you remembered to get their details.

3. If your car didn't start in the snow and ice this is not covered by motor insurance. You will only be able to get help if you have breakdown cover. Also, be careful about leaving keys in the ignition and the car unattended as insurers won't pay out if you have been negligent.

4. If you have driven off road, and your policy doesn't specifically cover this, then you won't be covered for damage to the car from driving across the field for example.


Home / Building Insurance

What it Covers:

. Building insurance - covers you for damage to buildings i.e. things you can't take away with you such as the roof and walls, tiled or hardwood floors, baths and fitted kitchens.

. Contents insurance - covers you for loss of or damage to the contents of your home. This is all the moveable stuff such as electricals, clothes and even food. You can get this as separate insurance to building cover if you want and this may be all you need if you live in an apartment for example where this is general building cover.

. All-risks cover - covers you for loss or damage to valuables even when outside your home and the premium for this will be higher. You can detail items or just choose an overall value for 'unspecified items'.

. Liability insurance - covers you for injury to other people in or around your home. Most insurance policies cover this to an extent. This would be useful if a tradesman or child minder has an accident or gets ill in your home. It may also cover accidental damage to their belongings. Remember that damage to you or your property by someone working in your home is not normally covered by this insurance and you'll only be able to make a claim if the person working in your home has public liability insurance.
Motor insurance

What are the types?

. Third-party cover - this pays out for claims that other people make against you for damage or injury caused by your driving.

. Third-party, fire and theft cover - in addition to third-party cover, you can claim for loss or damage to your own car as a result of fire or theft.

. Comprehensive cover - this gives you third-party, fire and theft cover and also covers damage to your car, no matter who is to blame. It costs more than basic cover but also usually includes other benefits such as: ?- windscreen and glass cover?- cover for damaged or stolen personal belongings - this usually applies to items stolen from a locked boot or glove compartment. The amount you can claim depends on your policy?- recovery service and emergency breakdown assistance?- driving other cars - this provides you with third-party cover when driving someone else's car?- replacement or hire car - the cost of this is covered if your own car is off the road as a result of an accident.

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