Defective design or construction can cause claims rejection

Homeowners should not confuse an insurance contract with a guarantee or warranty. If there is a defect in the design of your home or it is poorly constructed, or both, your insurance claims may be rejected.

Insurance is there to protect people against any sudden and unforeseen events. It is not a contract to pay for maintenance work on your home, or to fix damage resulting from defective design, materials or workmanship”.

Upon receiving a claim it is standard procedure for insurers to investigate the cause. If poor workmanship, defective construction, or defective design is identified as a significant factor in causing the damage, the claim may well be rejected.

For example, if your boundary wall was defectively built your insurer will be entitled to reject the claim. This would remain the case even if the event that destroyed the wall was sudden and unforeseen. So, “regardless of whether a freak storm or flood destroyed the wall, if it was poorly designed or built, the insurer would be unlikely to pay out”.

Common causes of claims rejection include:

Tiles lifting due to poor adhesive

Tiles cracking due to insufficient spacing preventing normal contraction and expansion

Houses built against slopes without underpinning or adequate compaction supporting the foundation, allowing movement and causing cracks.

Retaining or boundary walls not built to regulation, for example single course brick walls built higher than 1.8m without either supporting piers, weep holes, brick force or adequate foundations

Inadequate roof pitch preventing water flowing freely off the roof. Water pooling on the roofs will penetrate buildings causing damage.

Ceilings without brandering, or inadequately spaced roof supports, will sag and collapse

Poorly damp proofed foundations allow rising damp to gradually penetrate the building

So, if you are buying a home, make sure that you have it thoroughly inspected. You need to know if any one of the structures are not built to regulation and what it will cost you to remedy the problem.

To avoid claims being rejected at a later state, you safest course is to check first before you buy, and if you are going to do alterations, use approved providers from the outset”.

If you already own a home but are uncertain about whether the building was built in accordance with national building regulations, you can still appoint a qualified professional to check.

“It is better to know and remedy your risks upfront before damage becomes a problem, or you try to off-set damages on your insurer”.

Even though building regulations have been in force for about 60 years, structures like boundary and retaining walls are still routinely built without compliance.

As such it is important that homeowners ensure that the contractors they appoint to carry out maintenance or construction work are properly qualified, have the necessary certificates and come highly recommended.

Moreover, consumers themselves should look out for any design or construction short comings, no matter how small or unseemingly unimportant, and report these to their insurer.

Certainly, “it won’t help to keep quiet about these problems in the hope that when damage occurs your insurer will just pay up”.

Article courtesy of FA News.

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