In this guest post, Which? supporter Naomi Milward shares her battle with her mother’s insurer, which refused to pay out for storm damage when her garage roof was blown off.
While most home insurance claims are accepted and paid out in full, a minority are not. Our research earlier this year found that one in 10 home insurance customers who made an insurance claim in the past two years had it fully or partially rejected. Naomi’s mother, Carol Milward, is one such person…
Naomi Milward: During March 2012 a storm caused significant damage to my mother’s garage roof. If the storm had not occurred, the garage roof would have remained intact.
When I learned of the storm damage (I live in Devon and my mother lives in Suffolk) I hoped that my mother’s buildings insurance policy would cover the incident as many policies state they include cover for storm damage. Subsequently my mother pursued a claim through her insurer RIAS.
An appointment with a loss adjuster was made, so he/she could attend and assess the damage. Two days previous to the agreed appointment the loss adjuster telephoned my mother unexpectedly, saying he was in the area and could he call.
Obviously my mother had to proceed to employ contractors to urgently repair the garage roof and this cost her approximately £650.
My mother and I heard of other insurers paying out on the same storm damage that had affected nearby properties flat roofs. We understood that these flat roofs were in the same condition and similar age. However, my mother’s claim was rejected as the wind was apparently too slow to be classified as a ‘storm’.
Challenging my mother’s insurer
I was disgusted at yet another insurer avoiding its obligations to a customer when it should have honoured the claim. I challenged RIAS on behalf of my mother stating various points, including that the loss adjuster should have given my mother the opportunity to have another person/witness with her when he attended.
RIAS told us that it only paid out on certain wind speeds. We contacted the Met Office. On questioning RIAS claims department we were told that it only paid out on storm damage for wind speeds of 47mph and above. We were told the wind speed at the time of the incident was 45.47mph!
I requested that RIAS confirm where in its policy documentation it mentions wind speeds. Nowhere in the customer policy documentation does it mention any such thing.
We escalated the matter to Lloyd’s of London stating our dissatisfaction. Eventually – after pursuing the matter, writing time-consuming letters and making various phone calls – my mother was reimbursed. But we should not have had to ‘fight’ for this!
RIAS responds to Naomi and Carol Milward
Which? went to RIAS for its comment on Carol Milward’s case:
‘RIAS has 20 years of experience providing insurance to the over 50s and only works with reputable and fully accredited insurer partners who handle claims as quickly and easily as possible, which is why we are concerned to hear of Mrs Milward’s dissatisfaction about the handling of her claim. Following a Policyholder and Market Assistance at Lloyd’s review, Mrs Milward’s claim has been settled in full.
‘Our insurer partners aim to make contact with policyholders within two hours once appointed, and visit within five days to undertake an inspection, and these timescales were met. The surveyor arranged to meet Mrs Milward within their agreed service levels, however on this occasion as he was already in the area, the surveyor offered to visit Mrs Milward before the arranged date, in an effort to provide a quicker service for her.’
Have you ever had an insurance claim refused? Did you successfully fight back? Do you have any tips to help others in a similar situation?
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Naomi Milward – all opinions expressed here are her own.