Insuring a block of flats offers up its challenges. If you are a freeholder, leaseholder or management company for a block of flats getting the right block insurance in place is paramount. We add to that our knowledge and support should you ever need to make a claim.
Here at Cobine Carmelson we have successfully handled water damage claims for a block. Water leaks can be caused by various reasons, such as burst exterior and interior pipes or storm damage that causes damage to the roof. Water ingress can quickly lead from one flat to another causing untold and expensive damage to the property and fabric of the building. Not to mention huge distress to the occupants. Providing exactly what the loss adjuster needs to present each case as fairly as possible is what our claims manager Lisa is expert in. Her knowledge, experience and attention to detail requesting the necessary paperwork and photographs means each case got moved forward swiftly and without issue.
What if the flat owner lives abroad?
Some properties have a “managing agent” responsible for looking after the plumbing and other maintenance of the building. This is to be applauded because it ensures premiums remain competitive. However, when we investigated leaseholders complaints about uncompetitive premiums, we found the “managing agent” wasn’t actually looking after the building or the interests of the leaseholders.
In one of many, many, examples, the “managing agent” were failing to arrange for gutters to be cleaned, this lead to a build up of leaves and other items. When rain fell, the gutters overflowed and the inside of apartments were also damaged by the subsequent leaks. When such a claim is paid, the premiums are increased because a “lack of maintenance” caused the leak. However, the “managing agents” don’t feed this reasoning through to the leaseholders. They just tell them “insurers have put their rates up again”. Why would they risk putting their clients through such an experience? Greed!
Shhh … Don’t Mention the Hidden Commission
Unfortunately, many “managing agents” collect a hidden commission when they arrange insurance for their clients. So when the premium increases, their income increases. This is also the reason some “managing agents” don’t shop around on behalf of their clients. They want to keep their income high so finding lower premiums means their income would drop. Of course there are many “rules” being broken when this happens. Many leaseholders have received huge amounts of compensation, yet they had to take legal action first because the rules are rarely enforced by the regulators.
In this case, the agent was foiled because we arranged the insurance for this particular property. And showed the insurer that the agent had been negligent. Agents do this on purpose all the time and they simply forgot we arranged the insurance and just did what they always do. If the agent had arranged the insurance the client and the insurer would have been none the wiser. We have written on this subject many times and will continue to do so check out this blog. This article from The Leaseholders Charity details how they have raised the very same concerns with the FCA and Financial Ombudsman about issues relating to high commissions, lack of transparency, poor levels of cover, limited rights of redress and more.
Don’t be afraid to ask what level of commission your managing agent and the broker receive when you pay for your insurance. If they won’t answer you, come to us and we’ll give you more tips.
Freeholders have been ripping off leaseholders too, so ask if the Freeholder received any part of the premium too.
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