Our Building Regulations policies are some of the most frequently requested covers, and also the ones we receive the most claims against. A recent claim, outlined below, shows how a simple leaky roof uncovered a major structural issue, and how a down-to-earth approach ensured that the policyholder was fully, and fairly, covered.
In February 2020, Miss G was buying a terraced house, and we issued a policy to cover the absence of building regulations consent for alterations made in the property. As the work had been completed more than 6 months before, and as there had been no communication with the local authority since, we were happy to provide a policy with a £210,000 limit for a premium of £57.
In 2021, Miss G submitted a building regulations application to have the roof retiled because water had been leaking into the house. However, the required structural report, which was part of the process, uncovered a much bigger problem. Unbelievably, the chimney was unsupported; the result of a previous owner having removed the chimney breasts in two of the rooms below. Remedial work was needed to fix this, and at this point Miss G got in touch with our Claims team.
Reasons to say ‘yes’
The team’s first step for any claim is to assess its validity, i.e. is the issue being claimed for covered? In this case, there were two exclusions that might have meant that we had to decline the claim: the policy excluded claims arising from additional works carried out after the policy came into force, as well as excluding structural defects identified in any survey carried out for the insured.
Whilst this claim undoubtedly arose as a result of subsequent work that Miss G had undertaken, we took a pragmatic view that, as the re-roofing works were essential for the protection of the property, it would be unfair to enforce that exclusion. As for the second possible exclusion, although it was Miss G’s survey, seeking Building Regulations approval for the roofing work, which identified the unsupported chimney, we felt that it was reasonable to expect a structural fault like this to have been picked up earlier. The issue hadn’t been highlighted at any stage of the purchase back in 2020, so we believed that our policyholder would be better served if we considered that this exclusion should not be applied either.
Although Miss G had only received a notification from the building control office that remedial works would be necessary, our team was happy to handle the claim for the chimney immediately, rather than wait for formal enforcement action to be instigated by the local authority.
Our claims team instructed a local chartered building surveyor to inspect the property, and liaise with the various experts and authorities to successfully obtain building regulations consent so that the works could proceed. Once all the remedial work had been completed, the total cost of the claim was just over £23,000.
A focus on the customer
Legal indemnity claims are often a minefield, and occasionally, we do have to decline some when the exclusions to the policy have to be applied. However, having our own in-house team, with their experience of dealing with claims, their customer focus and sheer depth of knowledge, means we’re able to look at every case on its own merits. You can be assured that they’ll go out of their way to ensure a satisfactory outcome, and to resolve the claim to the insured’s favour wherever they can.