The changes in how your household insurance claim will be settled by some Insurers.

Most members of the public have no idea how insurance claims are settled by Insurers as they never expect to make a claim on the policy.

If asked most would say they get a few builders to quote for the repairs and the insurers make an offer of settlement that they think will be sufficient to pay for the loss and after a brief negotiation the cheque will arrive in the post.

This is of course not how it works and Insurers have much stricter rules on how claims are dealt with.

First point to bear in mind is Insurers will with any claim expected to be over a few thousand (often €1500/€2,000 and sometimes less) immediately appoint a firm of Loss Adjuster to represent them. Adjusters are highly skilled professional people who work within very strict guidelines given to them by insurers to insure that they establish if what has occurred is something that is covered on the policy and also insure the cost of settling the claim with the policy holder is kept to a minimum. They will also check that all details disclosed when the policy was incepted are correct to include previous claims and that the house is not underinsured .

The claimant who unless he appoints a Loss Assessor (at his own expense) will really have no expertise in what he should or could be claiming for except the basics of what he thinks is covered by the policy.

Most people are not aware that in many cases Insurers have increased the excess on escape of water claims on household policies to €750 or €1,000 per claim. This has become standard in many cases and is a very substantial amount of money to have deducted from your claim settlement and can leave many vulnerable when trying to have repairs done quickly as they simple may not have sufficient money to pay for the works.

What is also becoming a feature with some insurers is that they as per the policy will supply a builder to do the repairs necessary under the policy. This is not something many people are aware of and they only become aware when the appointed loss adjuster tells them their insurer is insisting that they will carry out the repairs. If this happens the insured will have to agree the works to be done unless he employes a Loss Assessor to assist them and following agreement on the works the insured will have first to pay Insurers whatever the policy excess is before the works will start and also of course have to pay their Loss Assessor.

The lead in time for the appointed builder to start the works has to be agreed and this may be quite lengthy at times as builders are extremely busy presently.

If you are allowed to use your own contractor for the works the norm used to be a payment of 70% of the cost upfront and the remaining 30% on completion (invoices and photographs required).This has now changed with some insurers to 40% up front and 40% following the strip out of the damage with the remaining 20% on completion(again after invoices and photographs or even another inspection by the loss adjuster if deemed necessary).

The moral behind this article is be very aware what is in your policy regarding the settlement of claims and if you don't like how one Insurer operates then simple choose a different insurer.

My advise is always use a qualified Loss Assessor and let the Assessor represent you with your insurers to make sure you receive a fair settlement in a speedy fashion.