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Case Study

This case study shows how, with Assessing Direct’s help, the Hartley-Mills family’s claim went from being repudiated by Liverpool Victoria to admission of liability, apology, and a full and final settlement with an additional payment as compensation.

In February 2008, Mr and Mrs Hartley-Mills noticed the flooring in their kitchen was moving. They were initially concerned about faulty workmanship of laminate flooring and damp proofing that had been installed two years earlier, but the cause was found to be a leak from a neighbour’s plumbing. We were instructed by Mrs Hartley-Mills at this point, and wrote to inform Liverpool Victoria of the circumstances and request that a loss adjuster be appointed.

It took numerous phone calls and other correspondence before we finally had a response to our letters, by which time it was March. It was not until April 23 that insurers arranged for contractors to attend site to inspect the damage. We were now informed, much to ours and our clients’ surprise, that no action had been taken earlier as the claim had been repudiated as it was not caused by an insured peril. Apparently insurers had decided, without further consultation or informing the Hartley-Mills family, that faulty damp proofing was the cause.

By this point, the damp and mould were getting progressively worse, and our clients’ health was being affected. Spores were spreading and attaching themselves to soft furnishings and carpets. There are a multitude of possible symptoms associated with mould, and the family were experiencing head-aches, sinus infections, sore throats and nausea not present prior to the ingress of water and subsequent damp conditions. The problems were not limited to the human family members, as the two house cats also suffered deterioration in health. These symptoms abated when the kitchen was sprayed, however this was a temporary measure and despite the Hartley-Mills’ ongoing stress and suffering, insurers remained inactive.

Whilst continuing to pursue the Claims Department by phone and in writing, we prepared a complaint on our clients' behalf, as they attempted to go on with their day-to-day life amidst on-going health concerns and a home they were unable to enjoy. It was May before we received a conclusive response, which stated that the claim was still being repudiated as an uninsured damp problem. As this was unacceptable to us, we then directed our complaint to the Chief Executive Officer of Liverpool Victoria Household Claims Department.

As a result, we were appointed a Technical Claims Complaint Consultant, and it was through him that Liverpool Victoria agreed to strip-out works and fumigation of the property, which at least relieved the family’s health as negotiations continued, but left them without a functional kitchen. The next step would logically have been for Liverpool Victoria to quickly validate and progress the claim to restore the property, however they further delayed proceedings by passing the claim to auditors. Nevertheless, we were prepared for this, and were able to supply photographic evidence of the ongoing issues, and our own expert opinion on the state of the property from a reputable restoration firm, The Revival Company, who carried out the initial spraying and the strip-out and fumigation.

The auditors, however, suggested that our evidence was doctored, and passed the file to independent investigators. Although this indicated further delays, it ended up being to our clients' advantage as the investigator’s report proved without a doubt the cause and extent of the damage, and we received an apology from Liverpool Victoria for the manner in which the claim had been handled. It was now September, seven months after the initial claim, and we were able to begin negotiating a cost for the works direct with insurers. It was at this late stage that they decided to appoint loss adjusters, Woodgate & Clark, and it was through them, a further two months later, that we reached a settlement proposal that was acceptable to Mr & Mrs Hartley-Mills. In our negotiations, we secured payment for full cost of the works to restore their property, alternative accommodation for the duration of these works and additional living expenses such as eating out for the period when they were without a kitchen. We were also able to secure a compensatory payment on top of the settlement figure for our clients' stress and inconvenience suffered.

"I cannot thank Assessing Direct enough," says Kay Hartley-Mills. "I have no doubt that without Assessing Direct... we would have had a very unsatisfactory outcome to our claim."

To read Kay's full testimonial, please click here...

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All photographs courtesy of Kay Hartley-Mills

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