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Panic over not being able to get house insurance....help!!!

(29 Posts)
igglepiddle Sat 11-Jul-09 13:12:33

Hope someone can help here! Just bought new house, got house insurance with a certain high street bank. (was the same as who are providing our mortgage) When I had to answer the questions over the phone to set up the insurance re: details about risks etc I must have accidentally said no to the one which mentioned 'has it ever had subsidence, settlement or structal movement' (did have two young children running round me at the time-bit frazzled. Anyway, when I got the paperwork and I checked to make sure all ok I realised my mistake and phoned them. We'd been insured with them for a week or so by now. I explained the situation - the survey (full structual) mentioned "very minor settlement above one door, of no concern, to be expected in a property of this age. No further comments."
To my amazement they went through to the underwriters who said no, we will now not insure you. Argghhhhh - massive stress as you can imagine. Spoke to the very helpful surveyor who said this was ridiculous and even offered to write a supporting letter to the bank to allay any concerns. Anyway, passed this back to the bank who won't change their mind and now we are having great problems getting another companies to insure us because they know we have had a previous refusal. Am really confused because on the 'Valuation for mortgage purposes form' that the same bank's mortgage dept had it actually clearly states the property has had structual movement but that it isn't recent or progressive. So didn't they know anyway?? Does anyone have any advice, am feeling so stressed and worried about this. Terrified at the prospect of not being able to get ANY insurance.....

Nancy66 Sat 11-Jul-09 13:24:35

Go through a broker - won't cost you any more money and they will know who to approach.

Our home has some ludicrously complicated freehold/leasehold arrangement and I was unable to find building insurance myself but broker found it easily.

I used Francis Townsend and Hayward.

LoveBeingAMummy Sat 11-Jul-09 13:24:45

Hav you tried going back to the person who did your mortgage, they might be able to help as it is very likely that they won't get their sales points if your policy is not taken up {wink]

TheDarkPhoenix Sat 11-Jul-09 13:27:32

What other companies have you tried?

Why not try a broker in your area? They will have direct contact with the insurers, on speaking terms usually so should be able to organise something for you. They will be able to do a 'bespoke' policy for you rather than a bog standard cover. I would phone round some brokers, see what they can do.

There is no way you won't be able to get insurance, you will perhaps get insurance 'excluding' subsidence or something but someone will cover you.

PrettyCandles Sat 11-Jul-09 13:44:36

I have twice had insurance refused after having taken out the policy. Once was on a flat in which I was already living. I was on the top floor under a flat roof, which I had pointed out on the application document, which had been accepted. About a week later they wrote to me telling me that they had only just noticed the flat roof, and that they were withdrawing my insurance - but that they were obliged to continue covering me until I found a new insurer, as long as this was within a reasonable time (reasonable being unspecified).

So you may well still be insured by them. Did you take out legal services as well? If so, try them.

The only difficulty I had finding a new insurer was to find someone who would accept a flat roof.

The second time was when I bought a house with trees near it. The first insurers rejected, depsite the surveys all saying the trees presented no risks, but fortunately the sale got delayed and we were able to find another insurer who wasn't bothered about the trees.

Neither time were we rejected for having been previously rejected.

Hope this gets sorted out for you - it's a real worrying pain!

pagwatch Sat 11-Jul-09 13:49:59

igglepiddle
just go to a broker.
Thing is that underwriters have writing criteria which is individual to them and affected by things like their own re-insurance policies etc.
The insurer you were with may offer good rates because they will not underwrite any properties with a history of any subsidence. So whilst the issue is a minor one it will completely change whether you fall within their acceptable risk.

Just try other insurers via a broker. they will now who accept and rate properties with minor subsidence history.

pagwatch Sat 11-Jul-09 13:52:43

...and go to a broker who will represent you because technically you may now have a history of insurance declined through non disclosure.

igglepiddle Sat 11-Jul-09 14:09:11

Thanks very much for all the info and advice. Do you know if this history of insurance declined through non-disclosure could have problems for us in other areas in the future?? I'm also wondering if we have any recourse over what I would consider rather unethical treatment by the company in question or is this just pie in the sky?

Nancy66 Sat 11-Jul-09 14:25:32

I wouldn't waste any time in pursuing the company that turned you down - you did give them the wrong information albeit unintentionally.

I get turned down for motoring insurance all the time because of my profession - and whenever I'm asked if I've ever been refused insurance I always say 'no' - never come back to haunt me yet.

CowWatcher Sat 11-Jul-09 14:27:49

We had exact same problem - find out who insured the house before you bought it & get insurance with them.

Tinker Sat 11-Jul-09 14:28:09

Find out who the previous owners insured the house with and use them

pagwatch Sat 11-Jul-09 15:09:18

igglepiddle

Insurers are unlikely to view it as non disclosure as the dates will evidence that it was a genuine mistake/slip. I would just suggest that you make sure that this is emphasised whther you approach other insurers or use a broker.

I don't see why you think the insurers are behaving in an unethical manner?
If they write a book of business that has strict underwriting criteria which does not allow subsidence then why is it unethical for then to be unable to change that for you?

You might want to consider whether you want to persue them for being unethical when their reply will likely be that they had to change their view after you lied in your insurance propsal which is a legal document.

This is like me telling apoodle groomer that i will be bringing my poodle along, then turning up with an old english sheepdog and calling them unethical when they say - we don't do sheepdogs.

Your property seems to be outside their criteria - thats all.
Unless they have suggested they won't refund you premium or intend to penalise you somehow?

igglepiddle Sat 11-Jul-09 17:32:45

Yep, Pagwatch I see your point.

I have tried to get insurance with the previous owner's company but they said that they won't on the sole basis that we've been refused by another company. As you can imagine this is why we've become a bit desperate.

Are there any brokers anyone would recommend?

kittykat765 Sat 11-Jul-09 17:44:18

Sorry to hear you are having such trouble. I work for a large insurance company for hoe insurance so may be able to help a bit. The options I would recommend are either speaking to the insurers who dealt with the settlement as they may have to insure you (they would have to if subsidence so may be worth checking re settlement). Or you can contact BIBA. They are the British Insurers Brokers Association (sp?) and they should be able to refer you to a company that can help. Their telephone number is 0870 9501790.

Hope that helps a bit.

kittykat765 Sat 11-Jul-09 17:52:30

That should be HOUSE insurance blush.

Incidentally we get loads of problems through to us where mortgage advisors put applications though when they shouldn't because of the bonuses. This includes setting up policies for people already insured with us so the customers end up paying twice until it is noticed and rectified. The best thing is to deal with the insurer direct as they will be able to give you yes/no answers there and then.

igglepiddle Sat 11-Jul-09 19:27:42

Thanks Kittykat, I did speak to the previous owners insurance people and they said that they hadn't been made aware/told about the settlement at the property by the previous owner so do you know if this is a reason for them to say no to us? it's being taken to the underwriters on Monday. Thanks for any info you may have.

kittykat765 Sat 11-Jul-09 20:22:22

It is likely then that they will say no to you and may have refused insurance to the previous owners had they been made aware at the time. The previous owners should have made the insurers aware as soon as it happened and not doing so may have invalidated their policy. It sounds like they are not going to be much help. If you want to go to a different company then BIBA will be open from 9.30am monday and they should be able to help (have checked on say no to 0870 website and the local number is 020 7623 9043 apparently so you may want to try that one first). If you want to stay with existing company (which I can understand if you don't), then it may be worth speaking to them again and pointing out that all properties have settlement and as your surveyor has pointed out this is not progressive and so should therefore be no problem. I would suggest that you ask your surveyor if he can compose a letter to confirm this which can then be posted/faxed to them. I would ask it to be reffered to the underwriters again (because the one they spoke to before may well be the idiot among them) as the only reason they should have any concerns would be if there had been any underpinning at the property (which wouldn't be needed for settlement).

If you still get the same response, then make a complaint. Take it all the way through their complaints procedure if you have to as it seems really stupid to decline business due to something that happens to all properties. Do you know what the cause of the settlement was and if any actions have been taken to prevent any further damage? Also do you mind saying which company it is that is causing this problem?

justhavingacoffee Sat 11-Jul-09 20:24:40

Sorry to hear you are having problems. Insurance is sooo stressful sometimes. We bought a house that had been underpinned due to drains collapse. All sorted and made good and ok with survey and mortgage. We did loads of research before we bought but we really wanted the house as it was in such a nice area and we could afford it (got a bit off due to the underpinning). We use Towergate insurance who insure all sorts of 'normal' homes that are not just square boxes! They have been very good. hth :0)

MARGOsBeenDrinkingTea Sat 11-Jul-09 20:28:51

Igglepiddle - I am VERY surprised that your insurers are refusing you cover.

As you have the mortgage with them, they have a vested interest in you being able to insure the rebuild cost.

My bank will only insure houses with subsidence if they have a mortgage with us.

MARGOsBeenDrinkingTea Sat 11-Jul-09 20:32:44

okay - so my advice would be to go to the high street lender who you have the mortgage with directly (visit the branch) and get a quote. In our place we can refer to underwriters and another dept for advice on houses suffering from settlement.

Good luck

igglepiddle Sun 12-Jul-09 17:05:15

Cheers guys, am def going to complain even though I doubt it'll change much at least it'll make me feel better.

Feeling so miserable, has really taken the edge of what should have been a really brilliant time with our first home.

Kittykat - I did phone the bank again to again explain that it's only settlement and that the surveyor will write to confirm this and they still said no. It's staring to feel that they won't budge for the sake of it, not for any sensible reason.

kittykat765 Sun 12-Jul-09 17:15:53

It doesn't make any sense for them to refuse the business based on that. Take it to a team leader, then customer relations then to the financial ombudsman if that is what it takes to get the decision reversed. Then once they have done that I personally would cancel the policy and any others underwritten by them. I also think you should name and shame them (or at least tell them you will) but I can understand if you don't want to do that. Have they explained exactly why they have turned down the policy?

CowWatcher Sun 12-Jul-09 17:28:03

Yes igglepiggle - what you have does not sound like subsidence but settlement. This exists in huge numbers of houses (particularly pre-war in London, thanks to bombings & shallow foundations) and should not be grounds for refusing insurance. I would make it clear to any potential insurer that you did not mislead your intended insurer, but that it was a genuine mistake rectified the minute you realised & that the reason they are now refusing you insurance is because of the settlement, not because they think you are dishonest. Best of luck with the new home - this same thing happened to us when we bought our first home, happily once rectified it was soon forgotten in the hazy happy new home fug.

igglepiddle Sun 12-Jul-09 18:37:23

No, they haven't explained why they've turned us down due to the settlement, I asked for a direct line or email for them for me and the surveyor to make direct contact but they have refused. It just feels like we've been put in such a crappy position. Does anyone know if underwriters ever reverse decsions because the customer care people said there is nothing to do if it's been declined...

igglepiddle Sun 12-Jul-09 18:38:42

CowWatcher, can I ask how you rectified it??

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