ToughButterCup

Sometimes nightmares are real: the insurance story

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If you haven't read the backstory, it's here. and an analysis of what happened is here

 

Quick Summary

One turbulent night a little while ago, our wall blew down during a newbuild. It was unlucky: just the wrong weather at just the wrong moment. Our builder says that there was no guidance on the ICF producer's website. Verbally , the MD implied that the builder lacked common sense in building so high without pouring to stabilise the build. The production company give no specific guidance on how high to build before pouring or propping.

The Loss Adjuster visited last week, and today, the Insurance company has sent me this email: in brief, it's the builder's fault. He should have braced the build,or poured.

 

Here, verbatim (anonymised) is the response from the Loss adjuster. 

Following a review of our Surveyors report I note that the blocks had been dry stacked. The builder appears to have laid out too many course of block, without being filled with concrete or propped in the interim whilst await the concrete pour.
Our Surveyor states that the safe working method would be prop any loose block work when dry stacked and that this ought to have been done until the concrete was poured.
The policy provides cover on an All Risks basis, subject to certain exclusions. One such exclusion has material relevance to the claim at hand:-
7 Defective Property
 Loss of or damage to and the costs necessary to replace, repair or rectify the Insured Property:
 a) which is in a defective condition due to a defect in design, plan, specification, materials or workmanship of which Insured Property or any part thereof
 Based on the information available to us the only reasonable conclusion is that the wall would not have collapsed had in been propped.
Following my verbal explanation as to the lack of policy cover available you advised that further information will be made available to support the claim, specifically weather records from Cambridge
(sic!) University confirming a gust of 70mph was responsible for the wall being blown down and a time lapse video to show the wall had been built correctly.

 

Ok, folks if this had happened to you, what would you do next?
 

 

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Guest Alphonsox

It sounds like this could end up in a multi-way standoff with the insurers, builder and supplier all pointing the finger at each other. ? My tendency would to put the whole sorry episode and the builder behind me and move on. 

Are we talking significant amounts of money here or a matter or principle ?

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I tend to agree with @Alphonsox, I had similar incidents during my build (not insurance related but additiional costs due to architect or builder oversight) but decided that this was part-and-parcel of working with a team who were new to the technologies rather than on familiar bricks-and-mortar builds.

 

Maybe a compromise would be to show the builder the evidence and ask him to fund the labour? And you have taken the hit through delayed timeline.

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It depends on how much money is involved and how much effort you will have to put into recovering that sum as to whether it's worth spending your time on recovering it, particularly when you are thinking about continuing the job yourself.

 

Does the builder have insurance?  If the potential claim is large enough to warrant it, then that might be the route to go down to recover some costs.

 

Of course, just because an insurer says no, it doesn't mean that they are correct in refusing and even if they stick to their guns, you can do the same and go to the Financial Ombudsman if you disagree with whatever they state to be their final opinion.

 

A time/cost analysis is always good in order to avoid a pyrrhic victory.

Edited by vivienz

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Home page of the Durisol site:

 

durisol_1.thumb.JPG.c6db3886b679447257ddbf0c66b8a590.JPG

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£1200 plus fiddling and messing about.

 

Yes @Onoff, that hadn't escaped our attention.

 

Inclined to do a head-down-arse-up-bye-bye-DIY.....

But stuff site insurance from now on.

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Fire of that video and wind speed record for a start. 

 

If you decide to DIY the project you'll save that £1200 is one way of looking at it.

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It's a sorry state of affairs but this is exactly what I would expect from an insurance company, any insurance company on any type of policy.

They simply are not in business to give back money for any reason whatsoever if they can possibly avoid it, and it seems they can always find a reason to avoid it.

 

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Did you have to buy new blocks or did durosol replace for free. I think I would be looking at getting some free blocks and taking the cost of the labour on the chin. 

Did you go on the course was propping mentioned. 

 

I work with a bloke who loves to moan he sends off e mails and letters and if he doesn't get his own way he sends off some more, I have never known him not get back what he thinks he is owed. 

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1 hour ago, Alphonsox said:

It sounds like this could end up in a multi-way standoff with the insurers, builder and supplier all pointing the finger at each other. ? My tendency would to put the whole sorry episode and the builder behind me and move on. 

Are we talking significant amounts of money here or a matter or principle ?

+1. 

Expend the time and effort moving forward. ;)

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57 minutes ago, Onoff said:

Home page of the Durisol site:

 

durisol_1.thumb.JPG.c6db3886b679447257ddbf0c66b8a590.JPG

 

Ian, what did Durisol say to that??

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Insurers will always try to avoid paying. I have a written admission from our roofer that they caused the leaks in our house, but the insurer still insists that we have no evidence. That's fine, I'll be suing the roofer directly once the rectification work is complete.

 

I'd have thought based on their website that Durisol should provide the blocks for free, and perhaps an additional contribution to labour to replace them. What else can you do but follow manufacturer's instructions?

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Unless Durisol specifically recommended propping up the blocks then I would hold them responsible.

 

The Durisol Practical Building Guide makes no mention of propping them either, other than bracing for the concrete pour.

 

http://www.ecomerchant.co.uk/productattachments/index/download?id=59

 

If this was the instruction the builder received from Durisol it is hard to hold him responsible.

 

However, I can see where the insurance company comes from, how did Durisol come up with this advice - "The weight of the blocks holds them in place" You wouldn't build a blockwork wall with no mortar in it and expect it to stand up in the wind. It seems like crazy guidance where for marketing purposes they are creating a possible problem for their customers. Hence again I would be looking for them to take responsibility. I would also question how they can give this guidance on a blanket basis, some places are much windier than others.

 

So yes, you need to get on with building, but I would be much more inclined to fight Durisol than the insurance company. In fairness to insurance companies they are supposed to be insuring unusual and unexpected events. Most people would expect an unsupported wall to fall over in wind.

Edited by AliG

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It's worth a go at the insurers, quoting the Durisol information, before writing off £1200. 

 

With my semi-professional, expert witness, hat on, if this were my field of expertise, and if I were writing a report for an insurer, then I would make it clear that the liability rested with them.  The majority of my work is for insurance companies, usually trying to avoid paying out claims, and, in my experience, they are pretty canny when it comes to assessing the costs, when faced with someone that isn't going to roll over and accept liability.

 

I've seen many cases where I've undertaken a couple of thousand pounds or more of work, on behalf of an insurance company, concluded that the insurer had no liability at all, only to find that the insurance company settles for a few thousand pounds rather than face going to court.  I get paid either way, but the first few times this happened I did get a bit annoyed, mainly because paying out when they didn't need to encourages more dubious claims.

 

If I were in your position I would contest the surveyors report and the insurance companies initial decision, provide the evidence from Durisol, provide evidence that both you and the builder were trained by Durisol, and state clearly that if they do not settle this claim you will consider taking it through the small claims track at the county court.  I will happily bet you a pint that they will just cough up the £1200, or something close to it, rather than pay out for an expert opinion.  Expert opinions are costly - I currently charge just under the CAA rate, £160/hour, with no VAT................

Edited by JSHarris
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13 hours ago, JSHarris said:

It's worth a go at the insurers, quoting the Durisol information, before writing off £1200. 

 

With my semi-professional, expert witness, hat on, if this were my field of expertise, and if I were writing a report for an insurer, then I would make it clear that the liability rested with them.  The majority of my work is for insurance companies, usually trying to avoid paying out claims, and, in my experience, they are pretty canny when it comes to assessing the costs, when faced with someone that isn't going to roll over and accept liability.

 

I've seen many cases where I've undertaken a couple of thousand pounds or more of work, on behalf of an insurance company, concluded that the insurer had no liability at all, only to find that the insurance company settles for a few thousand pounds rather than face going to court.  I get paid either way, but the first few times this happened I did get a bit annoyed, mainly because paying out when they didn't need to encourages more dubious claims.

 

If I were in your position I would contest the surveyors report and the insurance companies initial decision, provide the evidence from Durisol, provide evidence that both you and the builder were trained by Durisol, and state clearly that if they do not settle this claim you will consider taking it through the small claims track at the county court.  I will happily bet you a pint that they will just cough up the £1200, or something close to it, rather than pay out for an expert opinion.  Expert opinions are costly - I currently charge just under the CAA rate, £160/hour, with no VAT................

 

+1. Jeremy is spot on with his advice. 

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Thanks everyone.

A quiet pint and careful thought is what's needed now. I feel very supported, and very, extremely grateful for all your responses.

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1 hour ago, JSHarris said:

It's worth a go at the insurers, quoting the Durisol information, before writing off £1200. 

 

With my semi-professional, expert witness, hat on, if this were my field of expertise, and if I were writing a report for an insurer, then I would make it clear that the liability rested with them.  The majority of my work is for insurance companies, usually trying to avoid paying out claims, and, in my experience, they are pretty canny when it comes to assessing the costs, when faced with someone that isn't going to roll over and accept liability.

 

I've seen many cases where I've undertaken a couple of thousand pounds or more of work, on behalf of an insurance company, concluded that the insurer had no liability at all, only to find that the insurance company settles for a few thousand pounds rather than face going to court.  I get paid either way, but the first few times this happened I did get a bit annoyed, mainly because paying out when they didn't need to encourages more dubious claims.

 

If I were in your position I would contest the surveyors report and the insurance companies initial decision, provide the evidence from Durisol, provide evidence that both you and the builder were trained by Durisol, and state clearly that if they do not settle this claim you will consider taking it through the small claims track at the county court.  I will happily bet you a pint that they will just cough up the £1200, or something close to it, rather than pay out for an expert opinion.  Expert opinions are costly - I currently charge just under the CAA rate, £160/hour, with no VAT................

Any of that work going near me?

i have a gce in bullshi......

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Well, this is what we have decided to do.

  • Get on with it. This spat is a side-show
  • Pursue the Insurers

  • Pursue Durisol.

  • Negotiate an orderly parting of the ways with the builder 

In short, take a bit from everyone's advice. Handled carefully we can turn this whole thing into something which reflects well on everyone, while acknowledging that we're all a bit wiser.

And that's Dr Debbie Simpson's job. 

 

Now then, where's that sheet of OSB? Make us a cuppa, sweetheart ! ?

[..... Whaaaa....?]  

No need to be like that about it!

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Just catching up on this. My view is its not worth your time to pursue for £1200.

 

Regardless of what anyone did or did not say, it's completely obvious that the gable should have been propped. That includes you boss. Common sense should have trumped here and it didn't - lesson learned. You're unlikely to deal with Durisol again anyway. 

 

Whilst I'm not disagreeing with th e principles behind it I think you should drop this all immediately and focus on what matters to get your house built - this isn't helping anything. 'winning' this battle will do what? £1200? 

 

I know I'm not sugar coating it but I really think you're energies are not going to be well spent pursuing this - not even as a side show. It was an accident. Someone made a mistake. You know how to prevent it - everyone one here who will ever build icf knows what not to do - you've learned,  we've learned and you're about to sack your builder and save multiples of £1200 and have a far higher satisfaction level. If it wasn't the gable it would have been something else - £1200 well spent. 

Moving on!meanwhile I've just propped the garage walls....!

 

DSC_2633.JPG

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Looking passed pissed-offness is hard, I accept there is a good deal in what you say.

What I appreciate much more is the confidence you have in telling me what you think. I hesitate to use the phrase 'thats what friends are for' but if it isn't that, then its something close.

 

================================

PS: Garage? That's the size of our house!

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after what I previously wrote @jamiehamy hits the nail on the head really. 

If you spend as much effort looking for a good lad to help you as you would chasing who is at fault it will be a much better use of your time. 

Get back out side and start networking find that new bloke and crack on. 

 

Edited by Russell griffiths

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29 minutes ago, jamiehamy said:

'winning' this battle will do what? £1200? 

Much less, when you factor in lost time and the distraction. :/. Unless you KNOW you can win, and you can get your 'personal fees' back too. 

If this was £12k it would be very different.   

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Sorry, but I disagree with the last few comments.

 

You don't need to 'battle' with the insurer. That's just emotive language that isn't required. Just simply set aside an hour to write a well worded letter pointing out the facts covered above. I would also ask the insurer (its always good to ask questions that they have to confirm) to confirm the relavent experience the loss adjuster has with Durisol. The fact of the matter is that the loss adjusters reason for rejecting the claim can be clearly refuted. 

 

There is no need for battles, anger, distraction. Just calm well written words. 

 

Besides, how many hours do us self builders spend trying to save a few quid on materials and suppliers? Would you spend an hour shaving £1,200 of a materials order? 

 

Edit: actually the facts are so simple it's probably more like half an hour! 

Edited by Barney12
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Exactly as @Barney12 as said.  Just one well-crafted letter.  If that fails, then by all means right it off as a lost cause, but my guess is that you will get some sort of offer, IF the insurance company believe that you are likely to pursue them further. 

 

It's a bit like playing poker; you need to make them think that you have a good enough hand to have a better than 50% chance of winning if it went to court.  They know their costs in just the preliminary work, before going to court, will exceed the claim amount, and insurers are not daft when it comes to money.

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Absolutely would I go after the 1200 quid and I would be looking to Durisol for it unless their is reason their instruction was superseded by another in their manual. It's fine saying the builder should have common sense, but if he doesn't follow Durisol's instruction and something goes wrong, he would get blamed. Jamie is spot on that common sense should have taken over and your builder (and probably yourself too) should have thought hang on, that's not gonna stay up - but Durisol make that claim clear so who are you to question them.

 

I totally get that you're gonna be one busy family now, but as the guys have said, it could be no more than a few hours work in total for £1200 and pay for a piece of equipment in your house. After all, I'm sure for 1200 quid Durisol won't want the bad publicity too.

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