It never rains but it pours. This could be the feeling that those who suffer property damage during lockdown are left with, as a feeling of despondency and desperation takes hold. “Why me?” may be something many find themselves asking.
With the second UK lockdown in late autumn and possibly continuing into winter, there is every likelihood that some homes will suffer storm damage or be flooded. With extra use of heaters and heating systems, more load being carried by home electrics and more home and kitchen equipment in use, the fire risk will also increase.
Additionally, if you are able to go to work, your home could be vulnerable to thieves who cause property damage. If you are a landlord, you might find that your tenants develop a grievance and extensively damage your property.
But whatever happens to you on the property front, there is a good way forward. Here are some property damage survival tips.
1) If you suffer any form of property damage and have an insurance policy in place, you need to report the damage as soon as possible and do your best to prevent more damage occurring, if safe for you to try to do so. But at this point, remember that it is hard enough getting through to insurance helplines and claims teams at the best of times and could be even harder, if those teams are depleted through furlough, or working from home, as many are.
At this point, consider doing what the law allows you to do and appoint your own loss assessor, at the same time that you report your claim – or even afterwards, if the ‘getting through to someone’ issues do emerge. From this point onwards, you will not be fighting your claim alone and will always have someone to consult with, who is striving to gain you your rightful policy entitlement.
2) If you are going to appoint your own loss assessor, check out their terms. If you appoint someone like Aspray and instruct them to manage the property repairs on your behalf, as well as the claim negotiations, you will typically not have to pay anything other than the excess on the policy, which you agreed with your insurer. Other firms may not operate like this.
3) Should you appoint Aspray to handle your repairs, you will then access the services of its vetted contractors. If you do not, you could be exposed to anyone, so try to check credentials, if you can still get online to do so, and ask to see verified testimonials for contractors who quote for your repairs. There are a lot of poor tradespeople out there and you may not be able to get out to view past examples of their workmanship.
4) If you are going it alone, make sure you get hold of a copy of your insurance policy and read through the terms and conditions of cover several times over, understanding what compensation it should provide and what it will not. You will need to know exactly what the policy entitles you to, if you are going to get a fair settlement and you will need to put forward your interpretation of certain wording, if you feel your insurer is not taking a fair view of it. If you have your own loss assessor, they will take this requirement off of your shoulders and do this for you.
5) If you have no representation, do not think you just have to accept what the insurer, or their representative, typically a loss adjuster, offer you. If you think it is not satisfactory, argue your case. If you hit a brick wall, you can still call in your own loss assessor. In fact, you can even do so if your claim is turned down.
6) If you feel your property is not habitable after the damage, request a transfer to other accommodation, as your health and safety is paramount. If you have your own Aspray property claims manager, they can project manage the whole process for you and put your case forward, in the strongest way.
7) If you cannot physically get to the property that has been damaged, because of lockdown restrictions, you can work around that by using your own appointed loss assessor as your person on the spot. They will handle the claim and repairs from start to finish, keeping in touch with you, to keep you abreast of all developments, on an ongoing basis.
8) Whilst it may not always be the case, remember that appointing your own loss assessor and property repairs company – one like Aspray – will often bring your claim and property reinstatement to a resolution faster, which may be exactly what you need during lockdown.
9) Be on your guard, if you suffer property damage. Lockdown is causing all sorts of scams to emerge, so it is possible that some companies could spring up, claiming to be property claims experts. Look at their websites, see if they have any awards or other accolades to their name, check out reviews, try to assess their track record and make sure that you entrust your claim to a company that is legitimate and experienced. Do they belong to any professional bodies? Does their website look as though it has just been built, as that could be a bad sign? Be careful, but also remember that your insurer could have a vested interest in deterring you from using a property claims manager and loss assessor, as that could increase the amount they have to pay you, so they are not the best people to ask for advice!
10) Use your appointed loss assessor as your mental health support, as well as your practical claims and repairs project manager. Aspray’s team of loss assessors is renowned for its empathy and going the extra mile for clients, listening to their concerns and being a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes, they are the godsend for children whose elderly parents live some way away and who cannot travel to help those parents manage their claim – a distressing situation for both the elderly parent and their children. Aspray’s loss assessors are there for you, in every sense, so use them if you are feeling helpless or down with regard to your property damage. They will always strive to make things better and bring a rainbow, where they can. There’s a reason Aspray wins and is shortlisted for awards, including a current one for ‘Outstanding Service to Policyholders’, as well as two more, in the British Claims Awards. It’s because our customer feedback surveys tell us that our customers find our service outstanding.