Response times costing Insurers money
Loss Adjusters are not able to keep on top of their response times and this is increasing the life-cycle of the file. When there is serious damage that renders the home uninhabitable, the policyholder needs to rent alternative accommodation. Any delay in finalising the claim means that the property cannot be repaired until the settlement is agreed and the amount of money available for repairs is known, before a contractor can be engaged to carry out the repairs. This adds to the stress of policyholders who find themselves in the unfortunate position of being out of their home.
Balcombes have tried to overcome this problem by arranging interim payments and by trying to agree the strip-out costs at the outset, so that aspect of the repairs can proceed while the reinstatement claim is being negotiated. However, even this is not resolving the difficulties. Loss Adjusters are simply not able to deal with claims in a timely manner. They are being hampered by regulation, box-ticking and reporting. They are restricted with constraints on the rates they can offer in settlement, that are all leading to delays in settling claims. Loss Adjusters are penalised by Insurers for over-paying on the cost of repairs (leakage). There seems to be no penalty for adding a few months to the cost of alternative accommodation. Insurers seem to have lost sight of the bigger picture and over-looked the fact that the current approach is costing time, money and dis-satisfied customers.
In the end, if the period of alternative accommodation required has to be extended, the Insurers are the ones who have to pick up the bill, because under the standard household policy, it covers the cost of alternative accommodation until the house becomes habitable again (up to a limit specified in the policy).
In the current rental market the cost of short term rental in Dublin can cost a minimum of €3,000 per month. We have seen short term rents of €5/6,000 per month for 4 bed-semis in South County Dublin.
Unfortunately the Consumer Protection Code 2012 seems to be powerless in dealing with such delays. There is a time limit of 10 days to issue a settlement cheque once the claim settlement is agreed, but no time limit on how long it should take to issue a response to a claim submission. Once again the cost of poor customer service and inadequate resourcing is borne by policyholders as it is reflected in higher premiums for all.