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Ask the Expert: the trouble with flood insurance

by: Kevin Paterson
  • 01/09/2014
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Ask the Expert: the trouble with flood insurance
I am struggling to get household cover for my client. Their existing insurer has dramatically increased their renewal due to the area they live in even though they have never made a claim. What can I do?

Ten years ago, if you had applied to an insurer for household insurance with a bungalow built in the 70s with a reasonable percentage of flat roof area near a watercourse, you would probably have been able to get their standard buildings and contents cover at a reasonable premium.

Today, most of the major insurers wouldn’t even quote on this risk.

Advances in technology have allowed them to use data enrichment techniques to drill down into what business they want to target. As a result, what insurers classified as a non-standard residential property ten years ago bears no resemblance to what are classified as non-standard today.

Given flood events over recent years, it’s probably not surprising that any property with a history of flooding or that lies within 400 metres of the nearest watercourse falls into the non-standard net. That net however now encompasses any property within 5 metres of any trees taller than 10 metres, or homes that have ever shown sign of or have been monitored for subsidence, landslip or heave.

Entrepreneurs working from home but receiving visitors could also find their property considered non-standard – with the increasing number of small start-up businesses this could start becoming a real problem for a fair number of households.

The more worrying trend that we’ve identified here at The Source is that if a homeowner calls to enquire about whether they could make a claim for an incident or damage to their property, that reveals a propensity to claim – and many insurers appear to be putting these homeowners into the non-standard basket. I find that truly alarming. Given the severe weather over recent months, how many homeowners will have made a call to check whether something is or isn’t covered rather than trawl through their policy document?

We know from our own analysis that thousands of quotes did not complete last year as a result of non-standard rejection and that around 40% of properties now fall under the non-standard banner.

There are only a few specialist insurers operating in the non-standard space and Source has agreements in place with most of them.

Kevin Paterson is managing director of Source Insurance

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