Did the earth move for you on February 26th 2008? Whether you felt the earthquake that night or not, home insurers in the UK have since received a flurry of claims arising from the damage it caused.
Unlike last summer’s floods, when many homeowners learned to their dismay that they weren’t covered for flood damage, leading insurers say that most home insurance policies will pay out for damage caused by earthquakes. If you’re one of the thousands whose homes or property were damaged, the Association of British Insurers has some advice to help you get your claims processed quickly with minimum fuss.
- Call your insurer as soon as possible to file a claim.
The sooner you call your insurer, the more quickly they can get an appraiser out to assess the damage. Check with your home insurance company to find out exactly what claims procedure you should follow. With the unexpected flow of claims due to the recent earthquake and widespread publicity, some companies may have set up a process to expedite claims and make payouts more quickly.
- Check your property immediately for damage that may affect safety.
The size of the earthquake may have caused damage that makes your home unsafe. One of the first things you should do is check over your home to assess its safety. Among the places you should check for damage are Tiles, Roofs, Chimneys, Subsistence and Walls.
- Contact relevant utilities to check your property if you suspect damaged pipes or wiring to your home.
Cracks in walls or fallen masonry often indicate that the structure of your house has been weakened, and the damage may lead to further problems in the future. If you suspect that gas, water or electrical lines into your home may have been damaged, contact the relevant utility companies immediately.
- Take advantage of alternative lodgings if your home insurance provides it.
Check your policy for specific benefits that will make life easier for you should you need to evacuate your home. If your home is damaged and made unsafe by an earthquake or flooding, your policy may cover the cost of alternative lodgings until it is repaired and safe to occupy again. Some policies may provide cover the replacement of necessities if you are unable to re-enter your home to retrieve them.
- Take photographs of the damage to help support your claim.
Photographs can help your insurer assess damage more quickly. In some cases, your insurer may be able to assess your claim without sending out an assessor, though that’s rare. It can, however, help expedite your claim.
- Do not start repairs until your insurer has approved your claim.
And be certain that you only hire legitimate workers and repair companies. Avoid doorstop builders.
- Don't destroy the evidence.
Keep damaged possessions for assessment and proof of loss, and hold onto all receipts for work done to your property for reimbursement.
If you were lucky enough to escape damage from February’s earthquake, there’s still a lesson to be learned. The ABI estimates that one of every four UK homeowners has no insurance cover at all, and of those that do, many are underinsured. So take this opportunity to review your home insurance policy and make sure that you’re adequately protected.
What's Your Claims Experience?
Have you made a claim on your home insurance policy? Whether you've claimed because of the recent earthquake or not, please take a few minutes to share your experience by writing a home insurance review. It's a great way to reward good customer service or vent your disatisfaction for all to see - including your insurance company.
PLEASE NOTE: The guidance published in this article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation of any particular home insurance policy or company. If you are in any doubt please consult an independent insurance adviser. A database of advisers in your area is available at www.unbiased.co.uk
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