Insurance cover read the small print and get help133 Replies
I would like to post a warning to anyone who has been as stupid as myself. We all take out our house insurance etc. I know we had the insurance agent at the house and he went all over the property and anyway he knew us personally as he lived in the same village. He gave us his advice on how to insure the property, responsibility civil etc. and we took it at face value. His wasn't the cheapest quote by a long way, however, we thought we were being well looked after and decided to go with the person we knew anyway. We have paid out insurance ever since for over 10 years. We did have one claim after the big storm some years back when we had minor roof and shutter damage and it all went pretty well but it was only a pretty small amount. We had the misfortune to suffer a house fire this year which has devastated us. 15 years of restoration gone up in smoke in 35 minutes. Obviously we were pretty seriously in shock and stupor following this and were pretty grateful when the insurance turned up a few days later to "sort it out" We got all the promises. We had had a firm turn up at the house the day after the fire asking us to take them as our personal expert to protect out interests. We were assured this was normal and was included in our insurance policy and would not cost us anything so we thought why not have our own advice. Our insurance company went ballistic. They said we had no right to do this we were not in dispute with them, they would look after us and anyway we would have to pay the fees. They convinced us to cancel with the other firm and assured us all would be okay. I was quite up in the air about it all as almost everyone we met said we should have our own representation.To cut a long story short and this is what I would like to warn people. Most insurance companies include this personal expert representation in the policy although some don't so you must check. I have now been led a dance for six months. I still have holes in my windows and doors, no hot water system and cannot use about 70% of my house.I am suffering now severely from stress and things have descended to a level of me receiving threatening letters from the insurance firm. I have now taken on a firm of my own insurance experts to protect my interests. Although they say there will be problems because they were not brought in straight away this can and will be rectified. They have gonethrough the paperwork I have to date and told me I have seriously underestimated the costs even though the insurance is attempting to cut this further. They have spent an preliminary four hours with me going through and explaining clearly exactly what they do and what the policy means and what the french law states. And here is my point. They maintain that french people find it hard to understand handling sinistres and for a foreigner even one who speaks pretty fluent French it is almost undoable.Apparently it is French law that in the case of a house fire the insurance company has its Expert and the client must have his own Expert and in the case they do not agree a third Expert will be called to mediate. The insurance company are responsible in my case for their Expert and mine and should a third be required half the cost would be theirs and half mine. In bullying me into not using an Expert they have in theory broken the law and they know it.So please if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a fire in your house DO get your own Expert. Do check your policy any expert firm will tell you if you will have to pay or if it is the insurance company and do ask around - for instance I have now found there are only two agree firms in the midi pyrenees who are used by the authorities in the case of public buildings i.e. schools and this would indicate their professionalism - I hope. Don't let your insurance company make you feel you are being greedy and aggressive by doing the right thing. I just hope that this will now be sorted and I was still squirming a bit about it until I received this very nasty letter from the insurance company this morning which has done me a favour in fact as I now know I have done the right thing at last.