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Even though it’s almost always accidental, your neighbours can sometimes be the cause of serious damage to your property. This is how to make sure you’re insured
Damage caused by neighbours is a common reason to claim on your home insurance. It isn’t usually deliberate – but it’s always frustrating.
If your neighbour causes accidental damage to your home, the first step is to secure your possessions and prevent further damage.
Then safely gather as much evidence as possible before speaking to them. For example, if water ingress has caused your ceiling to collapse, you must first keep any pets or small children from the affected area and move anything that might be at risk of damage from a further collapse.
After that, contact your neighbour – especially so they can turn the water off – and then your insurer.
Accidental damage, like the name suggests, is damage resulting from an unexpected and non-deliberate external action.
A classic example would be a stray football from next door’s garden breaking a window, but this isn’t as common with modern double glazing. Another scenario is water leaking through the ceiling – a common hazard for people living in lower flats.
For homeowners, the most likely source of neighbour damage will be next door’s overgrown tree or hedges encroaching onto your property. Botched home improvements are also a common complaint – especially if they damage the structure of your own home or driveway.
In the ideal scenario your neighbour will admit responsibility and you’ll reach a solution, with a timetable for repair as a bonus. Your neighbour’s home insurance would cover the damage to their property and to yours, and a quick claim would see the necessary repairs covered.
However things aren’t always so simple – your neighbour may have no insurance or their claim could be rejected by their insurance company.
Insurance claims are most commonly rejected if they haven’t kept their home in an adequate state of repair. Your neighbour may well be reluctant to stump up personally for repairs, especially in the event of a collapsed ceiling.
They may even refuse to accept responsibility at all.
Disputes about payment in cases of accidental damage are unfortunately common. If you believe your neighbour is responsible and they disagree, or if they refuse to pay for repairs despite admitting responsibility, this impasse could end up costing you.
If talking the situation through won’t solve it, further recourse is available. You may be able to make a claim on your own insurance – or even seek compensation in civil court.
However you may find that either option is more expensive than the cost of the repair, and that it makes more sense to fix things out of your own pocket.
If you take this route, and if things are still civil, it’s very sensible to talk to your neighbour about taking measures to prevent the problem from occurring again. If that’s not possible, you might have to escalate the matter.
If you take out legal assistance cover with your main home insurance policy, you can use it to take your neighbour to court. In this circumstance, your insurance will likely cover all your expenses – minus the excess.
Be advised that taking a neighbour to court is a decision not to be taken lightly, and it would almost certainly have repercussions for the future of your relationship.
If you’re a tenant, your landlord is legally responsible for making sure the property is safe and in good repair. As such, they should have their own landlord insurance policy.
If a water leak, for example, is caused by your upstairs neighbours, the responsibility for rectifying the damage falls to your landlord, who should act as quickly as possible. While you should still inform your neighbours about the issue, once your landlord is aware of the damage the necessary repairs to your home won’t depend on whether upstairs’ insurer pays out first.
Your home insurance is unlikely to cover you if damage is caused to your home while work is being carried out.
Instead, tradespeople should be covered by their own liability insurance. All reputable firms should have this cover, but it’s worth asking them what policies they have in place before you contract them to work on your home – cowboy builders often don’t buy sufficient cover, and you’ll end up with a significant bill to foot.
If builders do damage your home, make sure the relevant area is first secure and then gather evidence before discussing next steps with the tradespeople.
If you’re worried about damage to your property, getting a home insurance policy with legal cover added on is a wise choice. MoneySuperMarket compares dozens of insurers, and to find the best deal all you need to do is supply us with a few details about your home and your circumstances, and we’ll show you a list of quotes tailored to your needs.
You’ll be able to compare deals by the overall monthly and annual cost, the level of cover you’ll get and the excess you’ll need to pay. Once you’ve found the right policy, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase.
As with any kind of insurance the cheapest product on offer won’t always be the best. It’s recommended you look for a balance between the cost and the cover offered – this way you won’t end up over- or under-insured.
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