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Builders Can Help Insurance Companies Become All-weather Friends
December 11, 2019

Are insurers fair-weather friends? Jerry Tyrrell sets out the issues and puts forward solutions.

Most insurers I know have paid out claims even when they did not have to, which is to be commended.

However, I want them to make a good profit by having to repair less because owners are smart – or get smart advice. This is the challenge.

I have seen lots of claims in which the damage was trivialised, not fixed properly or denied until the last minute when the threat of media involvement persuaded the insurers to be more helpful.

I look at a lot of buildings, very few of which are perfect but most are OK. They usually keep the occupants safe and dry. And I am an advocate for building insurance, which includes ‘storm and tempest’ cover.

This means insurers will pay for unavoidable storm damage to your home – or will they?

The fine print in some policies allows the insurer to deny your claim if water is blown through gaps in your building. Even some lawyers think this is reasonable. Well, I don’t.

There are so many points at which wind-forced rain from just the right angle will enter your building.

You can see daylight in most roofs – due to corners or Dutch gables, edges of flue flashings or slightly displaced tiles. These hardly ever cause problems. Of course, there can be poor workmanship that I will ask the contractor to fix, for example tops of sheets not weathered or no back pan behind a skylight.

So I urge insurers to absorb what we builders know. We follow best practise, but joints between materials will result in gaps. Complex design such as hexagons, curves and butterfly roofs lead to even more leak points.

To be worthwhile, insurance needs to cover the owner for any water entry and damage at these points of a building.

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