Buying your first property is a bit of an ordeal. You have to quickly get to grips with all the terminology – Stamp Duty, surveys, exchange of contracts and completion, to name but some. You have to decide which mortgage offer to take, or whether you are eligible for a Help to Buy scheme. By the time you’ve determined the repayments schedule and worked out how to operate the heating, you’re exhausted. However, during most of this process, someone has steered you – a solicitor, mortgage surveyor or homebuilder perhaps? What a relief!
But, if the unexpected happens, and you need to sort property damage out via your building’s insurance policy, for the first time since you entered the first-time buyer process, you could be flying solo. That’s where naivety could really catch you out.
Aspray.com has created a list of 5 things to watch out for if you’ve become a homeowner for the first time and need to make your first property insurance claim.
1. The PIY (Pay It Yourself) Pitfall
As a first-time buyer, you’ve probably never road-tested your home insurance before and, if property damage occurs, may not realise your policy could cover it. You perhaps bought buildings insurance to satisfy your mortgage lender and have had better things to do than look through it. Before you PIY (pay it yourself), however, ask whether it could pick up the bill for your property damage and whether an insurance claim is worthwhile. If the cost of repairs is minimal, it’s probably pointless, as you will have to pay the policy excess you agreed to anyway. If repairs will cost a fair bit, it’s a different story and a claim may be your answer.
2. The Flat Refusal
When you make your first property insurance claim, it can be easy to take an insurer’s flat refusal to consider a claim at face value. You may ring up to explain your property damage scenario, receive a “that’s not covered by your policy” response and simply accept that as gospel. This isn’t necessarily so, however, and you should get a second opinion. It pays to remember that you have the legal right to your own representation within your property claim, so take that up and call your own loss assessor – someone like Aspray – to help you decide how to proceed.
3. Loss Adjuster v Loss Assessor Confusion
Loss adjuster and loss assessor sound very similar, right? In actual fact, these two people sit on completely opposite sides of the fence in a property claim negotiation. A loss adjuster typically represents your insurer. A loss assessor, represents your interest in the claim and will be in your corner, trying to gain you the settlement you’re entitled to, according to the insurance policy that you bought.
4. The Denial of Property Insurance Claim
Having overcome all hurdles so far, your home insurance claim could still be turned down. Your insurer could suggest you should have carried out better maintenance. They might say the wind speed was insufficient to have caused your damage. They could point to some tiny, small print or jargon, and bamboozle you into thinking you have no right to claim after all.
This may lead to you failing to question the decision, thinking they must be right. That is not the thing to do. Ask a loss assessor for a second opinion. They may translate the policy jargon differently and argue your case successfully, counteracting any arguments given for declining the claim and providing evidence to support your claim, where necessary. Do not give up, if you have even an inkling that you are being short-changed.
5. The Halfway House
Another major obstacle for first-time home insurance claimants is the partial reinstatement of property offer, which does not return it exactly to its pre-loss condition. Instructing a Loss Assessor, like Aspray, give you the peace of mind that there is someone working in your best interests, who can assess the damage, including checking for any hidden damage, and can handle negotiations with your insurer to ensure you receive what you are entitled.
If you are about to report your first property insurance claim, stop and think. Do you have the skills to negotiate effectively? Do you have the time? Will it eat into your working day? Can you be on-site when the insurer wants you to be? Do you understand the ins and outs of your insurance policy? Do you have the confidence to put your case across without backing down?
If any of the answers are ‘no’, it’s time to get that person by your side, who can be with you every step of the way, managing your claim for you. Even if you’ve started your claim and are floundering, or have had it declined, you can still appoint a loss assessor.
It’s time to call 0800 077 6705 and speak to Aspray, knowing that, if Aspray can manage the repairs using their vetted contractors, you will not have to pay anything for the Aspray service.