Bring in the big hitters for an insurance clash
Frustrated insurance claimants are facing more obstacles and delays in getting their money out of
insurers. Two-thirds of brokers say they have had to get tough with insurers on behalf of
customers to get claims paid, according to a survey by the British Insurance Brokers' Association.
... 'Insurers are tightening their belts,
with stricter interpretations of policy wordings.' Claims assessors, who are paid to fight on
the side of policyholders, also say they are having to work harder.
... The climate has got tougher over the past couple of years. 'On claims of £50,000 or
more, insurers are taking longer to decide on liability and are more intrusive in their investigations.
Now, when a claim arises, we routinely see the insurer go back to the original policy proposal
form and scan through it line by line.'
House of horror: Mellissa Djogo's buildings insurance claim was settled for an extra £30,000
after she hired an assessor.
Assessors say they can also speed up settlements. ... 'Your broker can do some
of the work in helping you to present your claim, but for the bigger more complex problems, hiring
an assessor can be a big help.'
Mellissa Djogo, 33, turned to [a firm of independent loss assessors] after her subsidence claim had dragged on for more than
six years. Mellissa had taken on responsibility for the family home after her mother, Vivienne,
emigrated to Sydney.
The four-bedroom house in Calcot, near Reading, Berkshire, was built in the early Eighties, but
Mellissa started to notice severe cracks in 2003. 'They were growing month by month and I can
fit my fingers into some of them,' says Mellissa, a trainee accountant. She contacted her mother's
insurer, RSA, which appointed specialist Crawford to monitor the situation. But after three years
there was still no action. Then Mellissa was told that the house was underinsured and the payout
would not cover the cost of underpinning.
This led to more disputes and delays. Meanwhile, the house was deteriorating. Mellissa, who lives
with partner Paul Mengell, says: 'The conservatory is so unstable that it is too dangerous
to use in case more glass comes down on you.' Vivienne, who still owned the property, was taken
ill with cancer. 'It was horrible having to phone up my mum with the latest news on the claim,
knowing that she was so poorly,' says Mellissa. Vivienne died last year, leaving the house to
Mellissa and her sister, Caroline, 36, who lives near Sydney. Eventually, solicitors suggested that
the sisters should contact [a firm of independent loss assessors]. Within just four months the company was able to negotiate
a settlement that was almost £30,000 more than RSA had originally offered.
The deal gives the sisters enough cash to demolish the house and rebuild it. Mellissa says:
'We can move on now. I only wish we'd known sooner that there are experts who can help you.'
Financial Mail on Sunday 12th December 2010