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Insurance refuses to replace an unprofessional contractor

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We have had a domestic heating oil escape 6 months ago. Our insurance sent a contractor to do remedial works that would remove the contamination and prevent it from spreading.

 

After 6 months the contamination still has not been removed from the ground but our policy was charged tens of thousands of ££ in costs incurred by the contractor. The only works done to date are: test of the level of contamination, partial structural survey of the house wall, a filtering equipment connected to the water feature that was also affected, and a proposal for works presented but later withdrawn (possibly on the grounds of safety after we asked for clarification of some safety aspects).

 

On top of things, we have issues with their negligent conduct at our property and poor project management. We complained to our insurer and asked that a reputable contractor we found (who worked with this insurer on similar cases before) replace the current contractor under our current claim.

 

The insurer refused. We wonder whether we have the right to have our current contractor replaced on request under the current claim. We would also appreciate some pointers and advice from people who found themselves in a similar position. Thank you very much.

Edited by citizenB
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Write an official complaint and in it give them a time by which to finish the work to your complete satisfaction. Tell them that if it is not, you will get in your own contractor and send the bill to them.

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Write an official complaint and in it give them a time by which to finish the work to your complete satisfaction. Tell them that if it is not, you will get in your own contractor and send the bill to them.

 

That is what you need to do. Register a written complaint with the head of claims at the insurers head office, asking them to look into it and find out why the works needed for the claim have not progressed. Perhaps the reason is that the money agreed by the insurers has not been enough for the contractors, so they are not going to do more work until the insurers have looked at what needs to be spent on returning your home to the way it was. It can be quite surprising at how quickly costs can escalate and insurers may not be happy, but have not come up with an alternative. If this is the case they should send around an assessor who can see what work is left to do and to get quotes.


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What are the reasons for not allowing you to use your own contractor?

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They would love me to go privately and use my own contractor and they are pushing me for it. Why? 1) The costs of works are likely to spiral and they would only refund me to the amount indicated in the inital work proposal presented by the current contractor appointed by them. The work proposal does not account for any unpredicted works and costs incurred throughout the project. 2) They would shed any liability for damage (I assume also damage caused to date by untreated contamination spreading throughout the land, and endangering the house wall and water table).

I was told that they only use 1 oil remediation contractor for domestic oil spills. It seems strange, considering that they are one of the largest UK insurers. I was told that if I want a different contractor to do the job, I need to appoint them privately, pay them and later the insurance would refund me the costs to the level they see appropriate.

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If the time taken is excessive and not what another reputable contractor would take, then you do the complaint as I said earlier and give them a timescale, if you make time of the essence you can also tell them that you will contract out and refusal to pay the full amount will also result in court fees.

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