I wanted to address an increasing problem that I am seeing on a week-to-week basis. This is a problem of frequent misunderstandings on the legalities and procedures of Peril-related building fabric damage to adjoining or adjacent properties. We look at claiming damages from your neighbour vs your responsibility.
Disaster has struck and your house is flooded, or you’ve had a fire, how could things get worse?
The neighbour’s house has also been damaged as a result, and their prize garaged classic jaguar has been ruined directly in the process. We later find out the car is ‘SORN’ and without any car insurance cover.
Your neighbour is naturally unhappy but wants to make it YOUR problem, as they don’t want their insurance premium rising because of a third-party liability claim from your house, and nor do they want to pay a policy excess for something they deem your fault.
What should you do?
It might seem obvious, but don’t open your pockets! A healthy neighbourly relationship is important, but insurers will say that it is not directly your responsibility, their insurable interest is your property in name and title, and you should too. So, your policy means your property, and nothing else unless expressly stated otherwise. Damage to your neighbour’s property is a matter they should pursue with their own Insurer and not one to be fixed with your credit card.
This does however have a caveat, did you, the policyholder, act wilfully negligent causing damage to the adjacent property? This will be the question insurers will want to know, and if it is the case, it’s likely your insurer may address claim liability more directly for both your house, and your neighbours record collection and that vintage ‘80s copy of Rosanna. It’s worth asking yourself the question and establishing an answer before you make any commitments. A burst pipe or an electrical fire for example is unlikely to be considered negligent.
Did you leave the bath running? Did your partner turn off the blow torch after caramelising the crème caramel? These things might not always be obvious and might sound like they would never happen, but it happens! and more frequently than you might expect, especially in busy households and it’s always best to be honest, you’ll likely be covered under accidental damage and avoid civil prosecution. If damage was ever found to be deliberate it’s highly likely you won’t have any insurance cover.
So the big question when it comes to ‘claiming damages from your neighbour?’
If you are confident, you’ve personally done no wrong, when your neighbour contacts their insurance company, your neighbours insurer will look to recover costs and you won’t be involved in any legal discussions with your insurer. Your neighbour’s insurer will look to claim and prove liability; the full cost of repairs whilst harnessing legal firms to pursue any uninsured financial losses such as the Classic Jag in the garage.
If it’s found that your actions have caused damage either liability will be passed onto your insurer, or if you’re not insured matters could lead to a civil negligence case.
If you know that you have caused the damage, your insurer may well attempt to settle directly with your neighbours insurance claim.
Damage to your property and possessions can be stressful and frightening, doubly so if your neighbours sustain losses too, so it is important to read your policy carefully to understand your legal and financial position, and what your insurers are obligated to accept liability for.
If you’re in any doubt before claiming against your building’s policy YourClaim will pre-vet your policy for cover without charge; to answer any concerns or questions before you make a claim, giving you more certainty and confidence Insurers have your back. We have lines with several very good litigation firms who can also assist.