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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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My mother lives in a terraced house, the neighbours wall tie

Customer Question

My mother lives in a terraced house, the neighbours wall tie failed in the recent storm and a skin of bricks came off the building causing damage while the primary damage is from the neighbours side there is obviously damage on her side as well.
The neighbours insurance company accept the storm as the cause and acted swiftly but are delayed by my Mothers insurance company who claim the storm and 100 mph winds are not the cause.
The situation is now a week on from the storm and my 76 year old mother with memory issues and my 78 year old step father with parkinsons are in mortal danger in an unsafe building.
What is the fastest way to help AXA insurance (my mothers insurance company)come to their senses and allow a scaffold\ person to make the building safe
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Thanks for your question. Please kindly RATE my answer when you are satisfied

Joshua :

Can you kindly clarify what damage has been caused to your mothers property precisely please and in what way the same is unsafe - i.e. is it the danger of further falling bricks or something else or in addition to this?

JACUSTOMER-v5m8bm24- :

The back toilet kitchen has seperate roof and the bricks that have fallen have damaged this significantly, to the degree you can see the sky if you lokk up while standing at the chest freezer. There are some bricks precariously perched and ready to fall through this roof / hole onto someones head

Joshua :

Thank you. Is your mothers insurer attempting to deny the claim altogether or are they just delaying at present?

Joshua :

Does your mother or if not you or another fmaliy member have sufficient monies available to pay for the repairs herself in the interim whilst matters are resolved with the insurere?

JACUSTOMER-v5m8bm24- :

I'll have to find out, I would think doubtful as substantial repairs required

Joshua :

Thanks. Would you like to continue once you have ascertained this or would you like to continue in the meantime?

Joshua :

I am just about to go out on an appointment. With your permission may we continue this evening when i am back. I would hope to be back after 6.30pm.

JACUSTOMER-v5m8bm24- :

Provide advice based on insufficient funds as this is the most likely scenario

Joshua :

Thanks. Certainly. Are you happy to continue a little later as above as I am about to leave for an external appointment. I would hope to be back after 6.30pm.

JACUSTOMER-v5m8bm24- :

So far I have more questions than answers from you

JACUSTOMER-v5m8bm24- :

I'll be back on line in the morning but I am going home now

Joshua :

Thanks. I will post a full response this evening. I will be available later and in the morning at your convenience if you have any follow up questions for me after having read my reply.

JACUSTOMER-v5m8bm24- :

Thanks I look forward to reading it

Joshua :

Many thanks for your patience last night.

Joshua :

The position with regards to the repairs is that the insurers have a liability to pay if the damage was caused by the storm as you say however it can be frustrating and slow if the insurers decide that they are unwilling to pay out.

Joshua :

The first step is to write to the insurers putting them on notice that your mother considers them to be liable for the claim on the above basis and that the neighbours insurers have accepted this fact and your mother is most disappointed that they are being difficult in respect of the claim and that she reserves her rights entirely on the matter.

She can also put them on notice that they ave 7 days to provide confirmation that they will accept the claim and confirm the schedule of works that is proposed failing which your mother will instruct a contractor of her own to carry out the work or instruct a contractor to patch the damage temporarily pending a full repair to be carried out at a later date depending on availability of funding.

Finally she can consider advising them that if the insurers remain unwilling to honour the claim that they should treat her letter as a formal complaint.

Joshua :

The effect of the above is to put the insurers on notice that they have a reasonable opportunity to deal with the claim failing which your mother may seek to reclaim costs of repairing the damage herself using her own contract or the costs of temporarily patching the damage pending a full repair. It also triggers the insurers complaints process which means they have to treat the matter formally and give your mother a formal final decision.

Joshua :

The benefit of this is not because your mother is necessarily particularly interested in having a formal decision but by having the formal decision she can then refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman which is a free service that can independently review the insurers decision and overturn it if they find in your mothers favour and award compensation if they find your mother deserving of the same.

Joshua :

In the meantime obviously your mother cannot continue with an open roof and so she can consider (having put the insurers on notice as above) either contacting at least two contractors to carry out the work (using the cheaper of the two) or if money does not permit doing the same but asking them to quote to carry out a very temporary patching of the roof to make it weather tight for the interim period pending full repairs at a later date.

Joshua :

The Financial Ombudsmans decision is binding on the insurer though not on your mother. She can start the referral to the Ombudsman once she has the insurers final decision following her complaint. Their service is free of charge.

Joshua :

http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumer/complaints.htm

Joshua :

Is there anything above I can clarify for you?

JACUSTOMER-v5m8bm24- :

That is straight forward enough, yesterday I appealed the assessors decision (cunningham & Lindsey) over the telephone unsuccessfully, I lodged a complaint with ombudsmen who will forward it to me for my mothers signature, presumably the action / letter above needs to be direct to the insurer's (AXA) registered address.

JACUSTOMER-v5m8bm24- :

Also the damage happenned Monday 28th am due to the storm they (AXA)were informed of the damage that evening finally Saturday afternoon they assess the claim to deny liabillity all the time puting two vunerable people in jeopardy are there any precedence that would pressure the insurance company into action

Joshua :

Yes before the Ombudsman will review the complaint they will tell you your mother requires a "deadlock letter". This is the final decision letter I refer to above. Hence the sooner she begins a formal complaint to the insurer (by forwarding to their complaints department) the sooner she is likely to have a decision made.

Joshua :

The fact that your mother is elderly and vulnerable would be a pertinent fact to refer to if the matter proceeds to the Ombudsman. In fact you may decide even if the insurer reverses its decision to complain to the Ombudsman on this basis anyway.

Joshua :

Other than holding the insurer to account through the Ombudsman or by suing them in the County Court - two means to the same end save that the Ombudsman is free - the insurer is a private business and there is no alternative legal means. However pressure could be put upon them potentially by threatening to contact the local and national press - such publicity could be bad for the insurer.

Joshua :

Your mother could also potentially contact the council to inspect the property. They may provide a report if the building is dangerous though would not necessarily comment on the cause. Some councils have improvement grants available for properties which whilst probably not of direct help may be of use indirectly. On a separate note if your mother is on any form of means tested benefits she may be eligible for help lie a free new boiler, insulation and so on - we are wondering off topic here but this may be indirectly of interest whilst she is focusing on repairs to the roof.

Joshua :

Is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?

Joshua :

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help with any further?

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