Home Insurance Claim - leak in subfloor - advice needed - insurer won't help
We have a leak of water in our subfloor, which has rotted the floorboard joists. The kitchen floor is bowing, and moves if you are standing in the affected part. The kitchen units have been dragged away from the wall, and there is a large gap from where they are no longer bonded to the wall / splashbacks. The worksurface is warped from being dragged down the wall. The dishwasher tilts from where the floorboards are caving underneath so you can't pull out the lower basket without it rolling back inside. It’s a mess basically. When it rains the smell of wetness and damp in the kitchen is awful and seems to be going into the dining room as well. The cupboards on that side of the kitchen smell of mould, and we have had to throw things away as mould was growing on some stuff.
Our insurer asked us to get a trace and access report. This identified that the leak had been caused by two things. Firstly a French drain installed by the previous owners too close to the perimeter of the house, and secondly a structural leak in the brickwork on the outside wall of the kitchen which is bringing water into the subfloor when it rains. We submitted this over two months ago. We received no acknowledgement whatsoever, and then eventually we were contacted by a third party who told us they were acting on behalf of the insurer asked to come out and take photos / video of the damage. All fine. They told us they would escalate our claim as urgent as we have a baby.
Nothing happened after that, and after a lot of chasing we were contacted by another third party who said they were appointed as loss adjusters. I subsequently discovered that our insurer had given the claim to deal with under delegated authority. It took multiple phone calls to our insurer to ascertain that. The loss adjusters have been abysmal so far – refusing to take incoming calls and never calling back. When the loss adjuster came out, she had not been supplied the trace and access from our insurers. I offered to send her this but she declined. She told us she would send us a report within 48 hours of her visit. That was nearly six weeks ago. After more phonecalls and chasing we were then contacted by a builder who told us they were contracted by the loss adjuster to do the remedial work.
The builder came out and did a survey, and had not seen the trace and access report either. Their view on the cause of the leak was that we’d have to pay them privately to fix the leak but a month on from their visit they have not provided any quote for that. I’ve gone back to our insurer who has said they won’t cover the drain but have not given any advice as to whether the issue with brickwork would be covered under our policy despite several requests for an answer. I'm not sure our claim has even been assessed correctly as neither the builder or the loss adjuster has had a copy of the trace and access.
We have nothing in writing from anyone. I have no idea what has been authorized as part of the claim. I’ve been told I’m not “entitled” to that information after one particularly frustrating phonecall. I was under the impression our options for remedial work were either a cash settlement, a builder contracted by the insurer, or us choosing our own builder to do the work. The builder, however, has said that it’s down to them to sort out and has demanded payment of the excess.
All we’ve been told vaguely verbally through the builder is that the insurers will not replace our kitchen carcasses which are no doubt water damaged and mouldy (the loss adjuster told us they would replace the carcasses but we’d have to retain the original doors) or the worktop which they told the loss adjuster they would re pin to the wall (it’s warped), but will cover the cost of replacing the floorboard joists and the kitchen floor covering. Despite multiple phone calls and emails, no one will share a schedule of works with me. Our insurer won’t deal with it as they’ve delegated the claim to the third party loss adjuster, and they don’t reply to phone calls or emails it seems either. All I’ve had is a demand for the excess from the insurer and a phonecall where I was fobbed off and told someone needed to come out and do a survey of the flooring.
We are also covered for alternative accommodation under our policy but the loss adjuster told us they would only give us a temporary kitchen, even though there is no where in our house we could accommodate one due to our downstairs layout and we have a young baby. The builder has told us it is down to them to authorize putting us in alternative accommodation!
Any advice would be gratefully received at what my expection should be at this stage. I’m at the end of my tether and worried sick as I have a small baby who is crawling everywhere now, and a very mouldy damp kitchen with wobbly floors. I’m going back to work later this year and I’m petrified I’m going to find us dealing with disruptive work in the house whilst this is all fixed whilst trying to get to grips with returning to work and settling my baby in nursery. The insurer has just fobbed us off as they’ve delegated the claim.
This is our first property and the first time we’ve ever claimed through our house insurance so any advice would be gratefully received as to where I can go next. If you’ve made it through that waffle thank you!
Martin and MSE campaign win
April's 20% energy price guarantee hike postponedMSE News
Childcare budget boost
More support for children from nine months and those on Universal CreditMSE News
Energy Price Guarantee calculator
How much you'll likely pay from AprilMSE Tools
I am so sorry to read the problems you are having.
An insurance claim like this is so very stressful. And they sometimes do take a few months to resolve, as so many parties are involved. Sometimes the communication between them all is less than adequate. It is hard for me to tell in your case, what they should be covering and it would also depend on your own policy conditions.
Many claims are taking a long time these days. The Claims Handlers seem to be under pressure with work, when you look at some of the Trustpilot reviews.
Can you take a look at the Trustpilot site for your own Claims Handling firm, to see if others are having a similar problem? In a way that might reassure you that it is not just your particular claim. (Some of these companies do carry out the Loss Adjusting work , but they may not be actual members of any Loss Adjusting Organisation. So I tend to call them the Claim Handlers!)
I am trying to think what I would do.
1) I think you need to make sure you have adequate kitchen facilities to look after yourself and your baby.
2) You also need to make sure that the damage is not getting any worse. I am wondering if you need a local builder to come and take a look and give you some advice on what will need to be done and what is urgent. You might also need that opinion, if you have to make a formal complaint. (See later). With complaints, the Insurer tends to take what the Loss Adjuster says, unless you have evidence to the contrary from another expert.)
You would have to get permission from the Insurance people, though, before you could actually let anybody else touch your property.
With your baby and so on and the stress you are under.... I think I would try sending an e-mail to the Claim Hander (Loss Adjuster) firm entitled....FORMAL REQUEST FOR INFORMATION.
Repeat that you are very stressed and have a young baby and that your kitchen arrangements are intolerably bad.
Then make a list along the lines of..... (you will have to review what your problems are.... I am just reading the posting, so cannot actually see the damage.)
I URGENTLY NEED A FORMAL RESPONSE ON THE POSITIONS THAT ARE BEING TAKEN WITH MY CLAIM. PLEASE PROVIDE ME WITH FULL DETAILS:
My kitchen arrangements are not suitable for me and my young baby (describe the problems).... What action are you going to take and when?
French Drain: are you covering repairs to this under my claim? If not why not?
Brickwork outside: are you covering repairs to this? If not why not?
Subfloor: Are you going to dry this out? When?
Kitchen Floor: are you going to replace this? When?
Kitchen Units carcasses: are you going to replace this? When?
Kitchen Doors: are you going to replace them?
WHEN are you going to action all this? What amounts are you intending to fund?
Once you have done this, I would give the Claim Handling company 2 weeks to respond?
And then if you are still not getting anywhere, you would probably have to think about starting a Formal Complaint Process. To do that, follow the Complaint Procedure in your Policy Booklet which will give Complaints Contact details. (This time I would write it as a Formal Letter...entitled FORMAL COMPLAINT. The trouble is, they then have 8 weeks to respond, so that can take ages too.)
I hope this can help you a bit. It is going to be taking it step by step, I think.