Kevin Paterson, sales and marketing director, Assurant Intermediary, describes a very real B&C scenario
It’s a hot summer night, but everyone is asleep thanks to a fan in each bedroom pushing air around. Then your worst nightmare happens – the smoke detector sounds its alarm. Fire!
Your wife rushes into your daughter’s bedroom to find that she is sound asleep. You run to your young son’s room to find the fan has melted and caught fire, creating thick, black, acrid smoke that is rapidly filling his screaming lungs. Thankfully the detector has done its job: you get your family safely outside and the fire brigade turns up in time to put out the fire before it can really take hold of your home.
You call your insurance companies from the hospital where you and your family are being checked out to let them know what has happened. Although you had separate buildings and contents cover, the insurers appoint one claims assessor, and, two hours later, he meets you at your fire-damaged home. He gives you immediate authority to check into a hotel and buy all the necessary belongings you will need to get you all through the next 48 hours while setting the wheels in motion for a full assessment of the damage.
You end up living in rented accommodation for 11 weeks while your home is repaired and possessions either repaired from the smoke damage or replaced. The claims assessor put you in touch with a rental management company to find suitable accommodation. You could only find a house with a minimum rental period of six months even though you only needed it for half that time. No problem, said the insurers. As far as they were concerned, you were entitled to live in comparable surroundings to your own. The insurers also appointed a disaster recovery company to assess absolutely everything in your home, right down to your toothbrush, to see what could be repaired and what had to be replaced.
What could have been a disastrous and traumatic period turned out to be nothing more than a minor blip in the status quo. Nothing was too much trouble for the insurers. You received a seamless service despite having two separate policies. You had a claims experience that you would hope to get but never really expect to receive.
Does this positive experience sound too good to be true? Well, I can assure you it wasn’t, because it happened to me.
I have always relied on my broker to source the right buildings and contents insurance, never buying on price alone. I think there is a golden rule for brokers to follow here: if you go for the cheapest cover for your clients, you’re going to be compromising on the cover they actually get.
Clients will be price conscious. However, in selecting the cheapest that you might find on one of the aggregators for example, there will undoubtedly be hidden clauses. The insurer wants to be top of the table and, therefore, will throw down a headline price. You’ve no idea whether they paid to be in the top 10, and you’ll need to go through the small print with a fine tooth comb to find out the true extent of the cover provided.
In sourcing buildings and contents cover for your clients, my advice would be:
1)<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Know who is underwriting the insurance policy – the more established brands are unlikely to compromise on cover.
2)<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>Make sure you discuss the depth of cover, including limits and durations, with your client to ensure you source the right cover and they know what they’re getting should the worst happen.
3)<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>If the insurer is offering a high level of commission on a bargain basement premium, then the only area of compromise will be the level of cover your client gets – so read the small print as you must be confident that the policy will meet the client’s expectations.
4)<span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space:pre"> </span>If in any doubt, speak to a specialist provider for advice.
Happy policy hunting!