Advice on procedure for claiming on house insurance and building assurance décennale

Our house has developed cracks in the walls that are part of a renovation project completed some years ago. We thought it might be subsidence, but a builder friend says it is due to inadequate foundations and will have to be underpinned. Should we go direct to our house insurers,or do we have to chase up the original builder's assurance décennale?

Hi Tricia, When we moved to France we were told it was compulsory to insure our new French home.

This is not true!

Having been "Ripped Off" Royally by British insurers a few years earlier, we have never insured anything since that was not obligatory, instead we have put the value of the premiums into Premium Bonds, todate we have won at least a thousand pounds and still have our original premium value, totally different to insurance, where money invested is often 'money down the drain'.

All I can suggest to anyone who feels insecure without insurance, having taken out your policy, get a further policy to cover legal fee's, (Litigation Insurance) because disputes with Underwriters can run to thousands of pounds in legal costs, and may force you to abandon your claim, as in our case.

In my opinion, (shared by millions of other unfortunates) the British Insurance Industry are the biggest bunch of legal crooks, one can have the misfortune of coming across.

If anyone would like to know more about our expensive lesson, I would be quite happy to send details.

Dave Norris.

Sorry it has taken a while to reply. I am in the process of finding old paperwork and translating our house insurance so that I am in possession of the facts. I do worry, though, that we pay annual insurance for the house and made sure the builders had insurance when they were working for us; we had an architect who was also maître d'oeuvre for this part of the job, but somehow we end up having to pay money for someone else's mistakes. It seems very unfair and makes me think we are paying money just to concur with the law and not to protect our property. Thank you very much for taking the time to reply.

Dear Tricia,

In reply to your query, you may have to do both. In effect, depending on the options included in your insurance policy, they may not assist you. Depending on the type of contract the builder had, the assurance décennale may not have been required and another liability policy may have been contracted. The type of insurance should have been mentioned in the builder’s agreement.

Another point to consider is the actual relation between the damage and the work done which can only be proven by an appointed expert. If this is not covered by your insurer, such appointment incurs substantial fees.

In the first instance, it could be useful for you to document the issue (pictures, contracts, etc.) and determine the “value” of the damages by getting a quote from a builder for the repairs.

You should then have an idea of if it is worth pursuing the builder or any other person whose responsibility cold be upheld.

Please let me know if you require any further assistance.

I hope this helps.