Structural damage to a property is something we all hope we don’t have to deal with. However, the unfortunate reality is, there are many ways in which it can happen. This type of damage, depending on the severity, can sometimes be costly, and many of us turn to our home insurance providers to pay the bills. While for some types of damage, the claim may be very straightforward, often the waters are murky when it comes to finding out what your insurance provider is covering you for. Furthermore, some providers do not make it easy to put in a claim. Here at Martin Perry Associates, we have vast experience with repairing structural damage and are able to help our clients to decipher their insurance policies. Here we take a brief look into types of home insurance and the most common types of structural damage, and whether you may be covered.
Are You Covered?
Firstly, it is vital to understand the two most common types of home insurance, to establish whether you may be eligible to claim. When you initially apply for your cover, it is essential to know precisely what you are going to be covered for.
To start with, you have contents insurance, which, put simply, covers the things that you put inside your home. This can compromise of anything from your television to your jewellery box. You can discuss the exact composition of what this cover includes with your provider; however, it will not cover the structure of your house. Certain types of structural damage may also affect your home contents, such as flood or water damage. Some policies will cover this, be sure to check with your provider.
Secondly, you have buildings insurance, which does cover the structure of your home, including the roof, walls and windows. It also includes fittings and fixtures such as kitchens, bathrooms and central heating systems. This type of insurance isn’t compulsory; however, many mortgage providers will require it as part of the application. Buildings insurance doesn’t cover general wear and tear, and it is crucial to keep your building well maintained. For example, if your property suffers water damage, but your provider can prove it was from missing roof tiles, your cover may be invalid. Furthermore, if you live in a known flood area, or your house has flooded before you will have to tell your insurance company to avoid an invalid claim.
These are the most common types of structural damage. It is worth noting that the advice given here is general, and you should check with your insurance company for your exact level of cover.
Subsidence is when the foundations of your property shift or sink, causing damage such as uneven floors, wall cracks and sticking doors and windows. Causes of subsidence can be varied, and the soil your house is built on will have a significant effect. However, common causes include; leaking or damaged drains and water pipes, or improper preparation of the foundations. It is possible to secure the foundations with support beams or an additional concrete layer, and most decent insurance providers should include a subsidence clause. However, excess can often be costly.
The possibility of getting cover for this is very much dependant on the type of water damage.
Flood Damage – Most insurance providers will cover your building and contents for flood damage. If you live in an already established flood area, you can expect to pay a higher premium.
Leaks – Burst pipes, bad DIY skills, overflowing drains and sewage backup can all cause water damage. It’s hard to say if you will receive insurance money for this one as it very much depends on the individual policy. The cause and reason for the problem are taken into consideration. Some insurers will cover the cost of the stopping of the leak (calling out a plumber) but not the repairs of the damage caused. Pay close attention to the ‘escape of water’ clause in your policy.
Damp – Damage caused by damp is not usually covered as it is considered ‘wear and tear’. It is vital to keep an eye out for signs of damp in your home and contact a damp specialist should you be worried.
Insurance companies will often try and claim that the damage caused to a property during a storm was down to improper maintenance, such as missing roof tiles and blocked drains. To make a structural claim for this type of damage, you will need to prove it happened as a direct result of the bad weather. If this happens, consult a structural damage professional at the first opportunity.
If you would like any more information on building structures, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Martin Perry Associates is a structural engineer in Devon and the West Country, for more information on our services, have a look through our website or call us. For more informational articles such as Party Wall FAQ’s, have a browse through our blog.