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House Insurance Advice Needed!!


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Hi everyone,

We are in the unfortunate position where our house suffered subsidence to the front elevation. The front bay (it's a London Terrace) moved and the bay needed underpinned and remedial works are underway. As part of the repair, the wooden sash windows were inspected and the report came back tat they were so far out of square that they needed to be replaced, at a cost of £15,000. In addition, the further repairs to the bay can only be completed if the windows are replaced.

That was last week. I just had a call from the Claims Management company saying that the insurance company is only willing to pay 50% of the window replacement cost (£7.5k).

Prior to the subsidence, the windows were probably original (1900ish) but had been maintained immaculately throughout their life. Our home buyers survey from 18 months before the subsidence states tat they were in "Condition 1" which is the best condition they can report and means no repair or maintenance is required. 

The reason the insurer is only offering 50% is "due to the age of the windows".  I have a call directly with the insurer tomorrow.

I'm looking for advice on how to counter this...before the subsidence, we were perfectly happy with our windows. We had never considered replacing them - they were in perfect condition. Now we face a £7.5k bill to a) replace the windows that a report says needs replaced b) allow the rest of the work to proceed, which depends on the windows being replaced. When we got a quote for insurance, we were never asked how old the windows were and never had a discussion that they would only ever be covered 50%. If they had been brand new windows that were being replaced, the insurer would have to do that and foot the bill. The monthly premium we pay would have been the same. 

I feel we are being massively short changed here - I want the windows covered 100% - help!!

 

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3 minutes ago, Scubaregs said:

Talk to them tomorrow, mention the word Ombudsman. 

Yep, I will. However, that will massively delay te repair of the house, so keen to try to avoid it! I'd rather back them into a corner where they can't justify low balling us. 

Does anyone know if insurance negotiating on items such as this is normal? It seems to me that if the expert appointed by the insurer says that something needs replacing then it needs replacing, end of. We paid the insurance premium, not half an insurance premium...

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Just spoke to my daughter who works in domestic insurance , her advice is 

Tell them to double check their policy booklet as any stipulations or exclusions will be in there , if it's not clearly noted that only 50% of the windows would be covered then they need to make a complaint, if the insurers don't take the complaint seriously then they need to take it higher to the ombudsman .

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1 minute ago, myfirstboxster said:

Just spoke to my daughter who works in domestic insurance , her advice is 

Tell them to double check their policy booklet as any stipulations or exclusions will be in there , if it's not clearly noted that only 50% of the windows would be covered then they need to make a complaint, if the insurers don't take the complaint seriously then they need to take it higher to the ombudsman .

Thanks! I've checked myself and no mention at all but I can ask them to point out the exclusion (that doesn't exist)!

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11 minutes ago, dpg123 said:

Thanks! I've checked myself and no mention at all but I can ask them to point out the exclusion (that doesn't exist)!

 I thought the whole point of insurance is that it is restorative and puts things back as they were, maybe try that angle.

 

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By that logic they should cover 50% of the subsidence repairs as the house is old. The point of insurance is to revert you to the position you were in before. That doesn't necessarily mean old for new but comparable. 

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I guess the key thing is can the subsidence repairs be made without the windows being replaced? Needs to be an expert opinion recognised by your insurance company. If yes then I think this is why the insurance company are baulking if no then they don’t have a leg to stand on. It sounds like your insurance  company are probably thinking your trying to include additional ‘nice to do’ work. 

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15 minutes ago, Clivescoobydo said:

I guess the key thing is can the subsidence repairs be made without the windows being replaced? Needs to be an expert opinion recognised by your insurance company. If yes then I think this is why the insurance company are baulking if no then they don’t have a leg to stand on. It sounds like your insurance  company are probably thinking your trying to include additional ‘nice to do’ work. 

I get your point, but I never asked for new windows. I said that I was happy with the function and aesthetic of the windows before the subsidence. Insurance is there to repair the function and aesthetic after damage. I argue that however they plan to achieve that (repair or replace) is of no interest to me as long as the end result is the same. Age is irrelevant, the condition was recorded as excellent on our survey. Why should I pay 50%? 

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Get the insurers to commission a report to show the cost of repairing the existing units. Bet that's more than £15k! 

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20 minutes ago, edc said:

Get the insurers to commission a report to show the cost of repairing the existing units. Bet that's more than £15k! 

Precisely. If they were to repair them would they be asking me for £7.5k? Nope. It’s just because their own independent window expert that they asked to report to them recommended replacement rather than repair as a cheaper alternative with a better end result that they are now trying on the “betterment” argument. I’d be happy for them to go out and buy some old windows and fit them as long as they’re the same function and aesthetic as before. I’ve never asked for anything to be improved (it didn’t need to be as they were in excellent condition anyway!). Urgh....

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52 minutes ago, dpg123 said:

I get your point, but I never asked for new windows. I said that I was happy with the function and aesthetic of the windows before the subsidence. Insurance is there to repair the function and aesthetic after damage. I argue that however they plan to achieve that (repair or replace) is of no interest to me as long as the end result is the same. Age is irrelevant, the condition was recorded as excellent on our survey. Why should I pay 50%? 

Not sure what the problem is then?  Don't get involved you want it back to how it was so let the insurance company get on with it as their approved contractor will either repair or replace. 

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10 minutes ago, Clivescoobydo said:

Not sure what the problem is then?  Don't get involved you want it back to how it was so let the insurance company get on with it as their approved contractor will either repair or replace. 

The problem is they’re asking me for £7.5k before they proceed....I was asking advice to counter that for my call tomorrow. I think I’m on the right track but wanted to check my argument seemed logical and reasonable before I get my trousers pulled down in the morning! 

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Tell them to find some good second hand identical shape windows for £7.5k :D

Or ask them to purchase the brand new ones, weather them to "unbetter" them before delivery to you that way they can take the betterment argument away ... 

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3 hours ago, dpg123 said:

I feel we are being massively short changed here - I want the windows covered 100% - help!!

have you got the legal option on the household insurance?

usually whilst via the main insurer the cover is provided by a separate underwriter, maybe they can 'independently' advise? (or maybe not due to the link)

I'd expect you not to be in a bettered position but the way you describe it doesn't really seem reasonable....complain as necessary (they will have a formal procedure in place with set timescales generally max 8wks, but to try to resolve in 4wks) then https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/ 

A complaint to the FOS will cost them a handling fee so whilst that's nowhere near the £7500 difference it might provide some incentive to work with you to a resolution

Good Luck

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On 2/11/2021 at 5:27 PM, dpg123 said:

The reason the insurer is only offering 50% is "due to the age of the windows". 

Not due to the condition. Key difference. 
The whole house is old, do they offer 50% for that?  
Claims Management job is to pay out as little as possible. They are trying it on. 

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£15000 has got to be a laugh. I have 4 sash windows on the front of my house - each one is as big as a patio door and they have a complex and rather fetching design. They are the original units - the house was built in 1895.  I've been quoted around £10000 to replace all of them with modern double glazed units that retain the original features/shapes. 

Anyway listen to what they say to you and if they don't agree to your reasonable demands ask them who in the organisation you have to sue. Get a name and if all else fails either fill in a small claims court summons request or if the amount you want is too much for that pay a local solicitor to send them a 'we're going to sue your ar*e' letter.  The quicker you follow up on your threat the better it will work. Insurance companies really don't like court cases with domestic policyholders. Especially as it sounds to me like they're trying to pull the wool.

Just out of idle curiosity do you know why you suddenly got subsidence in an old house? Usually old houses have done moving a long time ago unless something happens - water leak, road works nearby or something else that set it off. 

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On 2/15/2021 at 3:34 PM, JonSta said:

£15000 has got to be a laugh. I have 4 sash windows on the front of my house - each one is as big as a patio door and they have a complex and rather fetching design. They are the original units - the house was built in 1895.  I've been quoted around £10000 to replace all of them with modern double glazed units that retain the original features/shapes. 

Anyway listen to what they say to you and if they don't agree to your reasonable demands ask them who in the organisation you have to sue. Get a name and if all else fails either fill in a small claims court summons request or if the amount you want is too much for that pay a local solicitor to send them a 'we're going to sue your ar*e' letter.  The quicker you follow up on your threat the better it will work. Insurance companies really don't like court cases with domestic policyholders. Especially as it sounds to me like they're trying to pull the wool.

Just out of idle curiosity do you know why you suddenly got subsidence in an old house? Usually old houses have done moving a long time ago unless something happens - water leak, road works nearby or something else that set it off. 

Hi Jon,

The insurance company has agreed to have a second opinion from another independent window firm and they'll then either repair the existing (1900 originals) windows or replace...no fee to me! Phew!!

The subsidence happened 2.5 years ago during the extremely hot summer we had. The council had planted a fruit tree outside our house about 15 years ago and the theory is that it sucked all the moisture out of the clay soil that is in our area. It only really affected the bay at the front of the house but what a pain it's been. The tree was removed and the house stabilised and then recovered much of the height it had lost. The council were a complete nightmare to work with. Despite knowing that their tree was likely the cause, they refused for 1.5 years to remove it in case it made them look liable.

Getting there with the repairs - I'd say another couple of months and it'll be as good as it was in 2018!

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