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Hi

 

We bought a house, last May in Norfolk.

 

We don't live in it. It was bought with our inheritance to retire to one day. In the meantime we rent one 140 miles away that we live in as we can't afford to retire yet.

 

Our house in Norfolk was bought with the intention of renting it out until we can move in about 4 years time.

 

We had some work to do in the house to make it fit for tenants, and we (wrongly as it happens) thought we would be liable for capital gains tax if we rented it in the first 6 months, so knew it wouldn't be tenanted straight away. We have finally got a tenant, with the contracts ready and signed to move in at Easter.

 

When it came to insuring it, it was hard work. Because we didn't live there, but it wasn't a holiday home, and it didn't have a tenant in yet.

 

We went through 'Your Insurance' online and filled in the forms to be given an appropriate policy. They placed our policy with Churchills, who sent us out the paperwork, which we checked through and that was that. The one point that stood out was that the house must NOT be left vacant for more than 14 days. It wasn't an issue though, because of the work and decorating that needed doing we've been there pretty much every other weekend working.

 

Fast forward to the beginning of March and the ball valve in the water tank in the loft snapped. It wasn't the cold weather, it was simply the valve gave up the ghost. My neighbour called me within 2 hours of this happening and I was able to have the water turned off and the rest of the tank drained. Sadly though we lost all the upstairs ceilings, the carpets and the electrics were a mess.

 

We called Your Insurance who had an answer phone message at the time, due to the high level of calls they were receiving because of the cold weather. It instructed people to start interim work and send email copies of bills to them.

 

For us it was simply getting the remains of the wet stuff out to stop any more damage occuring, which we did immediately.

 

A few days later and we finally get though to Your Insurance. Within 3 hours they told us our insurance was invalid because we'd 'told them we had a tenant in place'. Apparently we did this via a phone call. As such, because there was no tenant then our insurance was invalid. Boom. They wouldn't actually go to Churchill with it as they said it wasn't valid.

 

I actually commented on Churchills page about the Brokers they had selling their policies and we were given a number to call them directly, which we did.

 

They went off to investigate, including the phone call and promised to come back to us within 4 days.

 

4 days later they called, and told us there was no record of this phone call, but we had clicked the wrong button on a drop down menu. They apologise for the mistake and say it may have been date inputted wrongly! Therefore we were still an invalid claim.

 

We have checked and rechecked our policy and there is literally nothing about it being tenanted or us telling them we had a tenant in there.

 

They have now told us they base their policies on 'assumptions' and sent us a list of these 'assumptions'. Again, we've breached none! They claim though that this 'compromises the integrity of the contract of Insurance' and this is sufficient to 'void' the policy. So now it's not 'invalid' it's just 'void' like it never happened!

 

They seem to move the goalposts every time we prove them wrong. I have a £200 electric bill for the last quarter, I have receipts from shops in the immediate vicinity, I have so much evidence that this house was not abandoned, but they don't want to see it.

 

More worrying they have told us have 'voided the policy for both properties from inception' which is odd. We only have one property! The one we live in is rented, however our contents insurance is through them as well on this one.

 

We've always made sure we have insurance and in 20 years we've made 2 claims.

 

1 in 2005, for a broken front door on the buildings, and 1 this year when our garage was broken into and my partners fishing gear was stolen. Both relatively small claims.

 

It feels now that they're trying to discredit us in anyway possible and I don't quite now when or how to approach the ombudsman or if its worth it?

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I've always thought that you required a different kind of insurance policy for any tenanted properties that you own, not your bog standard home and contents. Both of my tenanted properties have specialist insurance. Is this what you took out?

 

Sound like you're technically between a rock and a hard place - you weren't living in the property and it wasn't tenanted. I wouldn't imagine any homes insurance would cover that scenario.

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We have a landlord insurance, but it asked was a tenant in place?, which we answered 'no' to.

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That’s where I’m struggling, it is a landlord policy, the occupier is a tennant? You’ve said there will always be a tennant in there to cover the 14 days vacant period?

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All I know is that if there is any kind of 'out' for an insurance company to go for, they go for it.

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No. We were waiting for our tenant to move in. We are sure we did call to discuss the terms, since it was complex. They deny any call happening.

 

We have never claimed to have anyone 'living' in the house. They told us it must never be empty for more than 30 days at a time. We made sure it wasn't. We were working on it alternate weekends.

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Look into who you called, the break in the chain could be the broker, they were pretty reluctant to put your claim through in the first place - it’s not their place to do that.

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Get your info then make a complaint to the ceo of both broker and insurer, if no joy take it to the FOS.

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If a phone call was made, then your phone provider will have details of the call you made (date/time, number called). Insurers and brokers do record calls and keep them for a period.

 

Suggest a Data Protection Subject Access Request to ' Your Insurance' to obtain all data.

 

Can't comment too much on the claim and voidance without any sight of documents. Normally if you meet the assumptions for the policy and do not deliberately give false information, you would have cover per the Insurance contract terms/conditions. The question is whether the Insurance was suitable for the risk. With a landlord policy, having someone living at an address is quite important risk wise, because they are there to deal with any issues that might arise, as well as being a deterrent to anyone looking to break into an unihabited property. If the assumption or declaration stated the property would be occupied and this was false, then Insurers would be entitled to void the policy. Hence get the SAR done to check.


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