Do you know your rights when it comes to appointing a Building Surveyor in the event of a buildings insurance claim?
Over the last few weeks we have experienced a worrying and growing trend when making a buildings insurance claim. In an attempt to save themselves money on the surveying fees and to take short-cuts on the reinstatement work, buildings insurance companies are trying to force claimants to use their surveyors to assess the extent of the damage. Denying the policyholder the right to appoint their own independent surveyor.
Within most insurance policies there is a section entitled “Professional Services”. Generally this allows for policyholders to appoint professional service companies to act on their behalf in dealing with a claim. For example, it allows for a qualified building surveyor to be appointed by the policyholder to act on their behalf following a serious claim. This ensures that the true extent of any damage is found and noted, and that the correct reinstatement work is then carried-out ensuring the property is put back to its pre-damaged condition.
Following the recent severe flooding in the Thames Valley region flood victims, for instance, should be able to appoint a qualified surveyor of their choice. This surveyor will then act on their behalf when dealing with all parties associated with the reinstatement work. The cost of the surveyor is covered by this clause in the insurance policy, and generally agreed at the start of the claim process.
Following a serious flood at a policyholder’s property, one very large and well known insurance company recently turned down a request for a surveyor to be appointed on the basis that “the surveyor was merely preparing a schedule of reinstatement works and this is excluded under the policy”. This stance was robustly challenged by us. After a month of procrastination by the insurance company, they finally accepted that the policyholder did indeed have the right to appoint a surveyor under the terms of the policy, and that this would be covered. No apology was ever made by the insurance company for their stance or the time and money that was wasted as a result.
Another large “household name” insurer when recently confronted with a policyholder wanting to use their own surveyor, refused to agree to the request. They stated “we would expect a building company to scope the works required”. When pushed on this, the personal Claims Advisor maintained the stance. It was only when our professional claim team challenged them asking if there was a Professional Services section in the policy wording, that they finally agreed that cover was in place and they would cover the cost of the surveyor.
These activities are woeful and the companies involved should hang their heads in shame. These are recognised household names and we are of the opinion that this issue should be raised with the appropriate authorities and indeed Government.
The appointment of an independent surveyor, particularly in respect of a large claim such as a flood or a fire, is there to protect the interests of the policyholder and to manage the whole reinstatement process through to completion. It is a vital safeguard that is there to ensure that the insurers abide by their obligations. The public need to know that they have these rights.
If you are suffering any of the following problems associated with making a buildings insurance claim then please do contact us as soon as possible
- your insurer has denied you the services of a building surveyor
- you are having problems with getting your claim agreed
- you are in dispute with your insurers on the scope of the claim (what is and isn’t covered)
Our help is FREE, and we work on YOUR behalf.