We are finding more and more that insurers are holding in excess of 30 – 40% of a property damage claim settlement until the client can prove that the work specified in the settlement has been carried out and that invoices are available up to and exceeding the value of the settlement. Retentions are “assumed” to be the difference between insurer’s liability on an indemnity basis and that of reinstatement (i.e. effectively New for Old). The levels of retention however are in our view far in excess of a realistic and fair measure of indemnity – particularly in cases of relatively new residential properties, where actual wear and tear could be argued as extremely nominal.
Many issues arise in this area but firstly why is this happening and who benefits. Clearly the insurer benefits from the retention of cash-flow initially. The issue becomes much more significant I believe when one considers that many retentions are ultimately never actually pursued by the client because of the various unfair aspects of the system being applied. For example Loss Adjusters are setting deadlines to have works completed which in many cases do not consider the clients ability to manage a small building project (this is despite the fact that the client is actually entitled to professional fees to have this work done for them) once the deadline passes and works are not complete insurers close the file and make a big deal about re-opening the case. We see many cases where contractors VAT registration is not current – when this happens payment is not made to the client – so the client suffers again.
If the client pursues the retention but has not completed all of the work agreed in the settlement for whatever reason again the retention is withheld. This position also applies if the full amount of settlement is not spent on repairs and this may apply to “parts” of the settlement such as Professional Fees or VAT for example.
This may be a risky game for insurers as the amounts being held could be argued as being excessive and therefore insurers are not actually paying their true liability under the terms of the policy. This could be a big area of concern in these days of consumer protection and questionable banking and finacial practices.
Sean Cleary was interview recently by The Grapevine with Benen Tierney on Castlebar Community Radio. This interview is a great introduction to Loss Assessing and what it entails. To listen to the interview just click on the link below. We welcome your comments. Click here to listen to the interview
1. Shock – for you and your family, both physically and financially. It is not nice to read, but this is a definite consequence of a fire, flood, burglary or any other unforeseen misfortune. Shock can result in the need for medical assistance for the more vulnerable and the young.
2. Uncertainty – No one will tell you what will happen next. You would expect to be surrounded by accurate information at this vulnerable time but this is very hard to get. Don’t be surprised if the people working for your Insurance Company are evasive, slow to respond, elusive and unable to be definitive. You are not their concern. The Insurance Company is. A decision or acceptance to liability may take months!
Eircom PhoneWatch have recently published their 10th annual Burglary Report revealing an 8.5% increase on last year’s figures. Over the ten years that they have been carrying out their surveys over €700m worth of goods have been stolen from Irish homes.
Speaking at the launch of the report Eoin Dunne, Chief Executive of Eircom PhoneWatch commented “Over the ten years that we have reported on burglary in Ireland, one insight remains constant – burglary regardless of boom or bust is a crime phenomenon, which is simply not going away. The figures consistently demonstrate that the vast majority of burglaries take place while the home is occupied, thus increasing the risk of confrontation and personal danger, so it is of particular importance that people become more security aware while they are in the home. This year’s findings also indicate that burglars are more audacious than ever. As the winter months approach, which over the past ten years has been the busiest for burglars home owners need to be aware that there are simple measures that can be introduced today to make their home more secure”. Continue reading 10th Eircom PhoneWatch Published
Over the years we have dealt with a very large number of household claims. When dealing with large settlements we have discovered surprisingly, time and time again, that the insured will not be aware of the banks interest on their property. If there is a mortgage on your home your bank will have an interest in your property and your insurer is obliged to make your settlement cheque payable to you and your bank if they are aware of that interest. This is where problems arise following a claim.
The bank may be slow to pass the funds on to you – whether you are behind in your payments or not. Due to the confidential nature of our business we cannot talk about specific cases but we have put together the following scenario which is based on cases that we have dealt with;
Last winter’s severe flooding saw hundreds of policy holders greatly affected both emotionally and financially. Luckily, the vast majority of these policy holders had cover in place and could look forward to prompt settlement to get them back on their feet. Or so you would think. Five months on from the floods, Fianna Fail Galway West T.D. Frank Fahy is threatening to name and shame the insurance companies who he accuses of “penny pinching” and making “inadequate responses” to flood victims.
As a result of the November floods last year, Grassland Fertilizers suffered losses of up to €1.3 million when up to 70% of the stock stored at its Cork facility was destroyed. A claim was processed and the underwriters failed to pay because there was no cover in place for flood, burst pipes, tempest and/or storm damage. Grassland are now bringing their insurance broker to the commercial court in an effort to recoup their losses.