The changing landscape of property claims
The insurance market in Ireland is in a constant state of change. Most of the changes over the period of the financial crisis in Ireland were not good for consumers. e.g. Insurers seeking to limit cover by restricting cover; imposing higher excesses; introduction of no-claims-bonus on property policies; imposing higher retentions on claims payouts etc.
The public are incredulous when they hear of large awards in courts for minor injuries, and rightly so. We all feel that soft-tissue personal injury claims are fuelled by unscrupulous scam artists, aided and abetted by willing practitioners in the medical and legal professions. No wonder the public trust with the insurance industry is so low. All the resources of the industry should be put into defending against unreasonable awards.
Yet sometimes when property claims are being processed, there is a dis-proportionate adversarial position adopted by some loss adjusters and insurers. We occasionaly get clients who cannot believe the difficult anti-consumer stance that can be adopted. It is like there is a mind-set within some loss adjusters and claims department staff, that treats every claim as a fraudulent or exaggerated claim. This should not be the position. Policyholders who have paid the premium and suffer damage should be treated with dignity, honesty and professional courtesy. Unless there are blatant “red-flag” issues, their claim should be paid with good grace, and without undue delay. There is no better advertisment than a happy claimant.
It is no wonder that so many policyholders and brokers are turning to Public Loss Assessors (PLA’s) to ensure they get specialist advice and assistance when they have a property claim. If you had a fire in your property would you know where to start? Would the average home or business owner know how to go about documenting their loss and damage? Would they know what is damaged beyond repair and what is salvagable? Would they know what steps to take to agree the scope of the loss with a loss adjuster who visits the property? Would they know what documentation is required to prove the loss?
The Financial Regulator requires that claimants be advised that they can appoint their own loss assessor to represent their interests (at their own expense). For some, it is too late, as their claim can be declined on the initial telephone call. For others it can be put to them in a way that deters them from engaging professional representation. When you think about it, why should the insurance company have representation (and it paid for by the premiums of the many), and the policyholder has to fend for themselves, or else pay for their own representation? It smacks of the deck being loaded against them; that “the house always wins”.
Brokers can ensure a level playing field by recommending to their clients the option of appointing a PLA. Better still, they can sell cover for Loss Assessing services in addition to the property policy. Balcombes property claims scheme is a valuable enhancement to any property policy. In the event of a loss, the policyholder doesn’t have to worry about it costing them money. They get professional advice and asssitance in compiling, submitting and negotiating their claim. One of our qualified and experienced Loss Assessors can meet the Insurer or their appointed representative on site and agree the scope of the claim. Balcombes will deal with all the necessary paperwork and hassle that comes with negotiating a property damage claim. There is no better peace of mind.