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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 domestic insurance company sent a contractor to repair my

Resolved Question:

My domestic insurance company sent a contractor to repair my cooker. Whilst attempting this he cased a short circuit that crashed all the electrical devices in the house.
Shortly after this was found to have caused irreparable damage to a lithium cycle battery that was being charged at the time.
This has been confirmed by an expert who says that the cost of replacement is £499.99p plus his consultation fee @ £20 = £519.99p
I called the insurance company about this & they said that I must write directly to the contractor sending them my evidence & claim from the contractors public liability account.

I have done as my insurer advised but am still waiting to hear from the contractor.

Meanwhile I am very unhappy with my insurers advice. It seems to me that it is not I who should be claiming directly from the contractor: as my insurer it is Domestic & General who are liable for damage done by a contractor they send to my home & it is they who should be paying for that damage & claiming it back from the contractor.

Please advise me: If I am correct, how can I make my insurers accept their responsibility as I see it.

Stephen Wade
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

Do you have any evidence or information that the short could have been avoided by the contractor if he had taken other steps - e.g. turning off the electric before the repair or carrying out the repair differently please?

Customer:

I offered to put the power off at the mains but he said it would be sufficient to turn off the "cooker" supply switch. I believe he did this but for some reason turned it back on later & caused the short circuit.

Joshua :

if you can demonstrate that the contractor caused the damage to negligence then you have a potential claim against either the insurance company and / or the contractor. certainly would be insurers have suggested you do is one approach open to you on the basis of negligence and breach of duty of care. as you say, you also have a potential claim against the insurer directly on the basis that they supplied the contractor who caused the damage. There is nothing preventing you raising a complaint with the insurer demanding compensation from the above basis. If insurer refuses, you can consider referring your complaint to the financial ombudsman who can independently determine the matter and if it finds in your favour, award compensation. There is no charge for the service and their determination, whilst binding upon the insurance company, is not binding upon you

Joshua :

You can raise a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman having complaint directly to the insurance company following link:

Joshua :

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

Joshua :

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

Customer:

I might add that he did not inspire much confidence: he was a picture of muddle disorganisation & untidiness. After staying for an hour & a half he left in a hurry leaving the cooker worse than before a mess that he had failed to clear up. It was determined between the contractor & the insurer that the cooker was beyond repair & I was supplied with a new replacement valued at £329. The cost of the damage he did (apart from the cooker) currently stands at £552.99 (including your fee).

Joshua :

Thanks. As above whilst the insurer has not given you incorrect advice they have (unsurprisingly perhaps) omitted telling you of your right to claim against them too. If you are not getting anywhere with the contract you may wish to consider the above approach with the insurer directly which - given the existence of the financial ombudsman service - can be potentially simpler than claiming directly against the contractor

Joshua :

Are you happy with the information I have provided to you above or is there anything above I can clarify for you any further?

Customer:

Attachment: 2014-02-20_110944_stephen_wade__insurance_statement.docx

Full Size Image
I have attached a copy of the statement by the expert who examined the battery stating that the damage is consistent with the supply short circuit while it was being charged.

Customer:

would you like copies of any other documents? The originals are with the contractors.

Customer:

should I first re-approach my insurer or go straight to the financial ombudsman?

Joshua :

the evidence you have obtained is useful. In addition, ideally you will have at least some evidence of the poor work the original contractor carried out. There is of course your own statement that if you have any corroborative evidence such as pictures or follow-up reports and so this could be useful in the event of any form of dispute

Joshua :

in order to involve the financial ombudsman, it is necessary first to make a formal complaint to the insurer and wait for therefore reply. You may of course be satisfied with their reply but in the event that you are not, at that point, you have a right to refer the matter to the financial ombudsman

Joshua :

is there anything else I can help you with?

Customer:

The original cooker has been replaced to my satisfaction, so the issue of poor workmanship does not arise in that respect. My concern is about the damage done to the battery. Other appliances that were in use at the time, such as my computer, were also crashed out & might have been damaged - but on this occasion it seems to have been only the battery. I should have thought that for a supposedly qualified electrician to cause a short circuit like that is of itself evidence of negligence.

Joshua :

the poor workmanship is as you say not relevant in terms of the cooker however it is potentially pertinent in respect of the short circuit you claim was caused and which in turn caused damage to your battery. Obviously, if the contractor does not dispute that he caused short-circuit that this is not relevant but in the event that the contractors do dispute that they caused short-circuit, evidence that on the balance of probability be did may be required and evidence of poor workmanship could potentially be useful incidental evidence in this respect. as above, if they have admitted all will admit is a short-circuit was caused, as you say, issues of workmanship and so on are not relevant

Customer:

Am I therefore reasonably safe to proceed on the basis of the expert opinion, a copy of which I sent you?

Joshua :

Is there anything else I can help you with?

Customer:

Is the expert testimony that the damage to the battery is consistent with the effects of a power surge caused by a short circuit during charging, sufficient evidence to support my claim successfully? - I am not asking for guarantees of the outcome of my claim, just a reasonable guess.

Joshua :

this is excellent evidence in your favour. The only area you need to cover is that the power surge was caused on the balance of probability by the contractor as opposed to for example a natural power surge

Joshua :

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

Customer:

Thank you. There was no other power surge sufficiently strong to trip the fuses as did this one, so I guess that should be sufficient probability that the surge was caused by the contractor.

Joshua :

It is only balance of probability that you have to satisfy so the test is not high.

Joshua :

I wish you luck with your claim.

Customer:

Thanks again. That will be all.

Joshua :

A pleasure. Best wishes

Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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