Personal Finance

Friday 11 July 2014

Your policy can go through the roof with just one small claim

Charlie Weston

Published 23/02/2014|02:30

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A BMW car was destroyed when bricks from a wall came down from a building during storm Darwin in Myles Street, Limerick City. Picture: Sean Curtin Photo
A BMW car was destroyed when bricks from a wall came down from a building during storm Darwin in Myles Street, Limerick City. Picture: Sean Curtin Photo

OUR neighbour knocked on our door in an anxious state. Outside the storm was raging full on.

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"You better move your car," he said. "There are tiles flying off your roof."

Ridge tiles off our 10-year-old house had become loose in the wind and were crashing to the ground. These are the tiles that cover the gaps where different parts of the roof meet at an angle.

A number of smashed tiles were on the driveway. My wife moved the car and luckily it was not damaged. More importantly, no individual suffered from a falling tile.

But my neighbour's car took a direct hit, smashing the windscreen.

We managed to get a roofer out early the next morning to secure our roof and our neighbour's in the adjoining house.

I put a call through to our home insurer, Liberty, leaving a message that we had engaged a roofer to secure the roof, ahead of any approval for an insurance payment.

I took half a dozen pictures of the damage on my smartphone.

The roofer reckoned it was going to cost €700 to bring the roof back to the state it was in before the storm ripped off half a dozen tiles. He could source replacements to match from a salvage yard.

I knew I was going to lose money on the repair job because we had opted for an excess of €250 on the policy. This means we have to fork out for the first €250 of any claim.

This is something many people are doing as an excess makes insurance less expensive. That is especially important when it costs €360 a year to insure a standard semi-detached house in North County Dublin.

Liberty Insurance rang back. The woman in household claims was efficient and easy to deal with. She wanted me to email her the photos and the contact details for the roofer.

She looked at the photos and rang the roofer a number of times to check out the veracity of the claim.

Eventually, Liberty phoned to say it would pay out on the claim – we would get a cheque for €450. This is made up of the €700 cost, less the excess.

But there was a sting in the tail. She said we would lose our no-claims bonus. It was the first claim we have ever made.

The loss of the no-claims bonus would mean an additional 20 per cent on the premium for next year's policy – roughly €70.

It will take five years to get back to a situation of having a no-claims bonus of 20 per cent.

When you take into account the loss of the bonus, it seems insurers do not lose much on smaller claims. No wonder so many people just absorb a small claim.

Twitter @CWeston_Indo

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