In our last blog, we provided some practical tips for those dealing with the aftermath of flooding caused by recent storms.
Ideally, your claim will be dealt with by an insurance company in a timeous and efficient manner with the minimum of fuss. However, the reality with insurers is that they will often “throw a spanner in the works” or make claims more awkward than they need to be.
Insurers have been known to pick even the most trivial reasons in order to avoid or limit their liability to pay out in settlement of a claim. For example, they may pick up a trivial matter that had not been disclosed to them or a minor discrepancy in their valuation of the property. In order for a non-disclosure exception to be successful, the non-disclosure must be important enough to mean that the terms of the policy would have been amended if the insurer had been aware of it. An insurance company can’t reject your claim if you took reasonable care to answer all their questions honestly and to the best of your knowledge. Simply put, insurers do not like paying out money.
What then do I do if my insurance company rejects my claim?
The first thing to do is to carefully check the terms of your policy and try to assess whether you insurer is within their rights to reject your claim. If you have any doubt as to the merits of the rejection, immediately speak to a solicitor or a free service such as a local Citizens Advice Bureau and provide a record of all the correspondence that you have had with the insurer – at the very least, they should have explained to you why they are refusing to indemnify you for your losses.
If you are unhappy with the service that you have received from the insurance company, do not simply just accept their position – do not be afraid to challenge them. In any circumstance, you will be able to make a complaint through the Insurers’ complaints procedure, details of which are usually available on the insurers’ website.
If the problem you encounter is still not resolved to your satisfaction after you receive a final response from your insurer or 8 weeks have passed without a response, a complaint can be made to the Financial Ombudsman about the service you have received. The Financial Ombudsman service will thereafter investigate matters and determine whether your insurance company are acting appropriately. If they determine that your insurer should deal with the claim, they should order your insurer to settle the claim. The Financial Ombudsman service is free and informal, so there is no need to engage a solicitor to act on your behalf, although of course, you should feel free to do so. The decisions of the Financial Ombudsman are supposed to be legally binding, but unfortunately there have been cases where insurers have tried to disregard the decision. It is therefore important to seek legal advice as quickly as possible when you’re faced with such a situation.
If you encounter any insurers with your insurance company, talk to Thompsons on 0800 0891 331.