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Home Insurance Topics Of Interest (A-C)

This is an alphabetical list of topics that can arise with household claims and the decision or definition that might apply.

Art Loss Register – a database of stolen items set up for the Art market and the insurance industry. It aims to deter art theft, aid in recoveries of stolen art and help fine art dealers to avoid selling stolen proerty. It is not just paintings that are logged. Any item that is uniquely describable and has a value in excess of £1000 can be logged.

Basis of Settlement – you will need to check you policy wording as this should give you a specific definition. I would expect a reasonable insurer to follow similar guide lines to these. Where this is under-insurance but this is less than 10% they should deal as normal. If it is between 10% and 25% they should deal with your clam as normal provided you agree to increase the sum insured immediately to the correct level and pay any extra premium demanded. This should be deducted from your claim if appropriate. Where the under insurance exceeds 25% your insurer will investigate more thoroughly. Have you tried to cheat them out of premium?

Burglar Alarms – generally these are considered to be part of your buildings cover. If you have a security warranty on your policy, make sure you apply it.

Business Use – Many policies exclude business use. If you have any items in your home that you use for business purposes, check the wording of your policy and if it is excluded, see if your insurer will agree to cover the item. If not, find another insurer.

Carpets – this often causes problems! If you are entitled to a new carpet because yours has been damaged by an insured event, and you have the same carpet in more than one room, what are you entitled to? I suggest that a reasonable expectation is to replace the carpet up to the 'visible barrier'. This is usually a door. For example, with an open plan lounge/diner you should expect the whole area replaced up to the door. Glass doors are not a ‘visible barrier’ . Where you have a glass door and the remainder of the carpet can be seen through the door, you should be able to achieve at least a 50% contribution to the cost of replacing the carpet you can see through the door.

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Clothing – you will always find that claims for clothes and linen will be settled in an ‘indemnity’ basis. That means wear and tear will be deducted. Even if you have ‘New for Old’ cover. Your policy should clearly tell you this. I would expect your insurer to include crash helmets in the definition of clothing!

Co-Habitees – any ‘partner’ of the person named as the insured should be regarded as a member of the family provided there is clear evidence of a permanent relationship and the sum insured is adequate for their possessions.

Contribution – where two or more policies cover the same loss, they can all be called on to contribute to your claim. You cannot claim off them all and expect them to pay you out two, three or four times over. A typical example is where your contents personal effects covers you away from home, e,g, on holiday, and you also have travel cover with baggage included. If your loss is worth £100, you cannot claim £100 from your household insurer and £100 from your travel insurer. (If you did, you would be committing a criminal offence). Instead, both insurers will club together and pay you £100 between them. An agreement from the ABI is in force telling insurers how to calculate their share. Unless you are unlucky, your excess should be swallowed up in the calculations.

C.U.E. – The Claims and Underwriting Exchange. This is a national database holding data on both motor and household claim from most major insurer. It helps insurers to identify fraudulent claims. The message is – don’t even try it!

Cycles – This causes a lot of problems. If you have a bicycle, I strongly recommend you insure it as a specified item on the personal possessions part of the policy and tell your insurers of the serial number. That way, you are properly protected by the policy. If you do not cover it in this way, do not expect to have your claim paid for your cycle unless it is stolen or damage whilst within your home. Again, check your wording! They should always be secured when left unattended away from your home. What is unattended? Even if you leave it outside a shop for a few minutes whilst you buy something inside, that is unattended. You might be lucky where, for example, a child is doing a paper round, leaves it for a moment to put a paper through a letterbox and it is stolen. I would suggest that this scenario is not deemed unattended.

Customs and Excise – Where you have purchased an item abroad and imported it illegally into the country, i.e. you have not declared it and not paid any duties that might be required, you cannot claim for it. See the case law called Geismar V Sun Alliance (1977)


"I was unable to stop in time and my car crashed into the other vehicle. The driver and passengers then left immediately for a vacation with injuries."
Extracts taken from actual claim forms submitted to
a number of UK car insurance companies