Pool build gone wrong.......advice please


(Sue Etherton) #1

Friends of mine had a pool built 6 years ago. The builder had a decennale. Three years ago one of the walls started to move at the top inwards. Axa, his insurers, initially refused to do anything about it because a soil test had not been done before the build. However, they moved from this position by asking their Expert SARETEC to conduct investigations (letter dated Nov 12th 2012). Investigations finally completed 13/08/2015!!!!! 3 years really! Concluding that the pool has moved and needs repairing by:



" rigidification des parois de la piscine avec un chainage périphérique.


mise en oeuvre de remblais compactes.


refection des plages de la piscine "



This report was sent back to AXA Service Regalements Construction on 30/08/15 by SARETEC. A letter was sent LRAR by my friends on 30/08/15 asking what they prosed to do now that their Expert had concluded. Nothing back. This was followed by and email on 7/11/15.......nothing.


Do they now approach the AXA insurance Mediator, or their own insurance Mediator? Or seek the help of a notaire?


Any advice welcome. Thanks in advance all you wise people out there.



(David Rosemont) #2

What good news- the only caveat is will that sum cover all the costs incurred? Just tell your friends to be caution but at least it looks like the matter is moving in the right direction, and in time for Christmas!


(Sue Etherton) #3

Oh yes. They say it is just further up the line than them..............


(Sue Etherton) #4

Connect with Chris Voller came to nothing.

In the end contacted head of Customer Relations via web site threatening Mediator. Got an email next day to say they had forwarded to relevant department and should hear in 8 days. Voila!!!!!!! Letter arrived offering 49.000,00 euros. Result!! 4 years down the line. My friends are soooooooo happy. Merci to David & John for their replies. Perseverance pays off.


(Sue Etherton) #5

Hmm just might get them to try that. Thank you so much David.


(David Rosemont) #6

Send an email to Chris Voller head of claims at AXA UK. He's in Linked In. Ask him to forward to the senior local person in France.


(David Rosemont) #7

From Insurance Times 2015

"Portal will enable brokers to view claims progress round the clock

AXA has introduced a new tracking tool that is designed to increase brokers’ control and influence over the claims process.

Eserve is a web-based portal, accessible via desktop, tablet and mobile, that allows brokers to view all the claims they have in progress on AXA policies round the clock.

Following a pilot with Bluefin, eServe has now gone into a second pilot phase with members of the Brokerbility group and will be made available to the wider market in the second quarter of this year.

AXA says Eserve, whch has been developed with rapid application delivery platform OutSystems, will allow brokers to view key claims information in real time including liability decisions, payment and settlement details.

It will also enable brokers to view the contact information of the relevant parties involved in the claim such as adjusters, solicitors and surveyors.

Brokers will be able to view their private home and motor, commercial property and motor and liability claims via the portal.

Although currently available only to brokers, the functionality to allow customers to track their own claim will be added in due course.

Chris Voller, director of claims at AXA Insurance, said that the tool underpinned the insurer’s goal to become insurer of choice for brokers.

He said: “We understand that customers are more demanding than ever and brokers are under a huge amount of pressure to deliver for their clients. Eserve allows them to cut out the unnecessary processes and delays that often cause frustration for their customers and deliver a superior claims service.” "

I suspect that the difficulty is in some way tied up with poor response by the broker. AXA will definitely have tagets and it seems unlikely that they are being met. Sue could ask for information on their tagets and ask why her matter is taking such a long time.


(David Rosemont) #8

From 2004 AXA UK

"Axa set to rollout new commercial system for brokers later this year with personal to follow

Axa has embarked upon an ambitious three year project to shed its sub-standard claims systems and create a more transparent claims process for its brokers.

The initiative, which will be rolled out across commercial lines this year, before being applied to personal lines, will represent its single biggest spend in 2004.

The insurer has built a single web based front-end system which will enable brokers and Axa staff to track a claim through all stages of the process. The system will lead claims handlers through a series of questions, extracting information from deep within the back-office system. The claims status will then be presented online in a single document accessible to everyone.

"This will save us money as we don't have to replicate processes," said David Williams, claims director, Axa. "It's also good for brokers who don't have to waste time phoning claims handlers to check the status of a claim."

The project builds on the insurer's ongoing effort to streamline IT systems as part of its efficiency drive, which saw a £46m reduction in expenses last year. Mr Williams said: "Our claims systems at the moment aren't great, but we can now build on work we've done over the past couple of years to rationalise our systems down from 14 to just two. With 14 systems you might as well give up on having a cohesive system. The linkages are too difficult to create."

He added: "We've not done very much in commercial in terms of IT. However, now that commercial has become the biggest part of our business we have decided to invest more in technology."

Axa plans to roll out the front-end system across personal lines once the commercial project has been completed.

- In a separate move, the insurer has launched a "two pronged attack" in an attempt to drive more efficient transactions with brokers in its household products.

The insurer is rolling out a web-based solution enabling brokers to transact electronically in real-time on niche household products that are not readily converted to EDI. Brokers access the facility, called Axa Business Risk, through the extranet and fill in the questions. They receive a quote via email and documents are then automatically sent to their office.

The tool, which is already being used on some commercial products will be rolled out on the Release buy to let product and then on the Select policy later this month."


(Nick Ord) #9

From reading the original post, have they tried simply to call the person dealing with the claim and asking what the status is?


(David Rosemont) #10

I have looked up Koehl. They have two companies. One is tied up exclusively with Axa. The other is what the French call Courtier d'Assurance. That being translated is an insurance broker which deals with a number of insurance companies. It's not clear that they have the expertise to deal with a dispute if there is one. As I said before Axa need top be given the opportunity to react and tell you what they are going to do. If they don't react then I think that they should be warned that you intend to resort to mediation. Mediation would be dealt with by somebody who ius completely indepenmdent and has no connection with Axa. You should ask Koehl Courtage to tell you specifically if Axa are meeting the claim and if so in full.


(David Rosemont) #11

In the UK most complicated claims are dealt with by loss adjusters whose job is to minimise the payout suffered by the insurance company. Claims are often built up as high as possible and then the loss adjuster proposes a settlement which is less advantageous to the claimant but the claimant often accpets because they realise that to push their claim any further would mean litigation which they may or may not win. If they do push forward to litigation the lawyers will usually ask for security for costs or costs up front; even the defence may ask for security for costs to frighten off the claimant. It's not for the fainthearted. I was involved in quite a few cases as an expert and as a principal in others. They are inordinately time consuming and must be done in a very precise way.


(Sue Etherton) #12

Thank you John.

I will let you know how they get on.


(Sue Etherton) #13

Thank you for the response and links. Axa have their own Mediator see this link

http://www.koehl-assurances.fr/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Procédure-réclamation-agent-AXA.pdf

So assume this their first port of call?

2 companies were asked by the Axa Expert to look at the pool. Both were fully qualified structural engineering companies. Quotes were provided. This has all gone back to AXA.


(John Withall) #14

I see David so the Notaire doesn't act like a UK solicitor so your statement makes sense. Just hope mediation works then, not that it should need to with an insurance backed 10 year policy supposedly providing the cover, in theory a good system, in practice maybe not.


(David Rosemont) #15

You may be right on the cost issue but a French friend told me that Notaires are usually not effective on matters involving potential litigation, and are not like solicitors in the UK in that respect. A solicitor will prepare a case and brief a barrister. I do realise that legal costs could well exceed the remedial costs. That is why mediation is a preferred option and in the UK most disputes like this can be and should be resolved without litigation. I am pretty certain the same applies here. During my career in the UK I saw exponential growth of the blame culture and it provides rich pickings. Not a few cases involved building owners or developers seeking to avoid paying bills and inventing claims, but others included building owners who had suffered bad advice , bad work or really serious accidents. There were some appalling horror stories, some of them literally life changing.


(John Withall) #16

David, my point on the Notaire was it's the lowest cost legal step to rattle the insurer if needed. It is also necessary to check pool building experience even with insurers experts. On one case a plumber was sent to inspect the issue, I kid you not!

We obviously don't know the extent of the problem or the construction of the pool but it may not cost too much to carry out remedial work compared to the incredible cost of the Avocat's hourly rate so not losing sight of that is often important.

Good links though so hopefully that will help Sue's friends.

Please let us know how you get on.


(David Rosemont) #17

The original contractor having retired had a duty to pay premiums up to the time of his reirement. We assume that this was done. That then puts the insurance company into the place of the contractor. The need or not for a ring beam in the first place would depend on the ground conditions, and a proper evaluation of those should ghave been done before the pool was constructed originally. Now that defects have arisen a proper evaluation of the problem and the solution needs to be done. That should be done by somebody with proper structural engineering qualifications (should be checked). That person or firm should also have professional indemnity insurance (should be checked). Assuming that the scheme that has been proposed is the correct one (not just the cheapest one) then one needs to address the question of who is going to pay for it, and for any other additional costs. The insurance company should respond but if they do not then you need to advise them that you intend to take the matter to an independent mediator. You can find the process here http://www.ffsa.fr/sites/jcms/c_33694/fr/assurance-le-recours-a-la-mediation-de-lassurance?cc=p1_82064 A notaire is not appropriate. An avocat is more appropriate but a last resort and you will have to fund them up front. If your insurance company is not playing ball you may well need to commission an independent expert report on the defect and the remedial work. Again make sure thaey have the right qualifications. I was an architect and expert witness in the UK and in fact did do quite a lot of work on pool defects. Quite often neither the owner nor the insurance company want to hear what the expert says as it involves spending money. But it is his job to be truly expert and if necessary be able to stand any challenges in court. Court is absolutely the last thing you need. I can tell you that on one large case on a public pool over twenty years ago our prefessional fees alone as experts amounted to over £70,000. I am afraid it will take a long time. You can find some expert witnesses here http://www.choisir-son-expert.com/annuaire/criteres.php#criteres_all


(John Withall) #18

Yes that is the whole point of the insurance or so we are lead to believe, it costs the tradesmen enough to take out.

A lot seems to stem from how cheaply the pools are built, the over whelming part of estimating comes down to cost for the customer and I have seen so many short cuts taken in the name of winning the build only to have the short cuts cause problems later.

I think the order in which you wrote above should be the order of approach (AXA mediator first) but all sent registered post and with reasonable deadlines to respond.

Just be sensible if they are appointing their own Notaire as cost are NOT cheap and escalate quickly. Sometimes better to just get the work done although hopefully AXA will get something arranged.


(Sue Etherton) #19

Original pool builder now retired........Ring beam never fitted in the first place. Surely AXA have a responsibility under the decennale as it was not built correctly?


(John Withall) #20

It appears the recommendations are to form a ring beam around the top and link the plages to the ring beam? All of which would be standard so was that not done/missing? Although not part of your actual question the type of construction for the pool would be relevant to the remedial works.

Good luck with their claim but if not successful please bare in mind the actual cost of carrying out the work compared to the cost of a legal battle in France would in most cases be a substantial difference.

Sorry I can't help with your exact questions but it seems as ever that insurers make up their own rules to wriggle out of a claim. What of the original pool builder?