The perils of purchasing insurance directly from an insurer

Following a flood which devastated their family home of 15 years in November 2012, Carol and Patrick Warren suffered another blow.

Having made the claim, the family were told that because their home was underinsured, the sum of £128,000 which was needed to reinstate their home and to cover alternative accommodation, was to be paid only in half.

Having used the insurance provider’s calculator tool, the estimate figure did not in this case, account for the fact that the Warren family home was a Grade II listed building with six bedrooms – a property which could not be catered for using this online evaluation.

This, unfortunately, is a common problem when approaching insurers directly, as certain clauses such as the “average” would not typically be picked up on by the policy holder.

When the family were offered only £55,000 instead of the £128,000 needed, they took the matter to the Financial Ombudsman, who found that it was in fact the insurer who needed to accept responsibility for the underinsurance and pay them the full amount.

Underinsurance, an ill-fitting policy, and complete lack of support all made what was already a terrible position so much worse for Carol and Patrick and their family.

Because Firth & Scott operate on an advised insurance sale basis, it’s not a scenario our clients would need to worry about.

Our responsibility towards our clients means that all the insurance policies we suggest for you have first been vetted by our experts for suitability. We know that larger protected properties are going to have different insurance requirements from a four bedroom new build, and we would have used this information to source the right selection of policies in the first instance.

A visit to the property would have highlighted any further potential issues, such as proximity to a water source, and because of prevalent underinsurance risks, we would have advised against any policy which works on an average condition.

This thorough approach would have made it more difficult for the insurer to dispute the claim in the first instance. When this does happen, as sometimes is the case, Firth & Scott’s in-house claims team are ready to negotiate a fair settlement on behalf of all our clients, so they are not left alone in this frustrating scenario.

Of course homeowners want value for money, but with so many suffering from underinsurance due to confusing terms and conflicting advice, many are left questioning where they’re going to live having been failed by their insurance policy.

Don’t be one of them. Speak to the team of independent experts at Firth & Scott who are all too happy to advise you on your home insurance.