Should I trouble my insurance if Direct Line will not help?

Should I trouble my insurance if Direct Line will not help?

7:36 AM, 24th December 2018, About 5 years ago 16

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I have a 1 bed ground floor flat with one other flat above. The tenant called to say there was water coming through the ceiling and he contacted the owner occupier of the upstairs flat who confirmed they had a leak and had an emergency plumber on the way. I went to inspect the damage the following day and took pictures.

The owner of the upstairs flat called me with a Direct line reference number, he told them he was concerned about the damage to my flat and asked how they would go about getting it repaired.

He was surprised to be told by Direct line that he wasn’t necessarily liable for the damage to my flat but to give me the reference number anyway.

I contacted Direct line to be asked why I was holding their client liable! I supplied them with pictures and asked if I should supply quotes?

They disregarded this question and went back to their mantra of why I was holding their client responsible, whilst suggesting I seek independent legal advice.

I am insured with 118’s broker but I thought this would be straightforward and do not want to raise my premiums by making a claim.

In short I could fix the damage myself for about £200, the damage is in a cupboard so is not affecting my tenant.

Do I get my insurance involved and if I do will I need to pay my £250 excess? Do I pursue Direct line in court?

I am sure many of you have been there before and as ever I would value you safe advice.

I realise it’s only a few hundred quid and part of me is inclined to let it go…………. suck it up and move on…….but,the other part of me is inclined to contact their CEO and ask his opinion. This approach has been successful for me in the past with Currys, a new washing machine delivered and installed within 3 days.

Many thanks


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Neil Patterson

7:38 AM, 24th December 2018, About 5 years ago

Hi Jim,

I will ask our insurance partner Jason and his team for a comment.

Jason McClean - The Home Insurer

9:32 AM, 24th December 2018, About 5 years ago

Hi Jim

It looks to me like Direct Line are asking you to prove liability that their client was at fault for the damage to your flat. They are entitled to ask the question.

It appears clear cut that their client is liable, but Direct Line will not accept that without proof. After all, you are not their client.

If you have landlord legal expenses, you can call upon that to represent you. However, by the time the letters start flying, you may want to repair your own property rather than wait.

You can call on your own insurance and I expect you will have a speedy response. However, you will need to pay your own excess. If that is more than £200 then no point in claiming really.

Your own insurance will decide whether worth contesting liability with Direct Line or to write it off.

This whole process may seem counter intuitive, but it is built on assigning liability, which is at the heart of any insurance. Direct Line clearly don't want to pay out for your fixes and are forcing the issue.

It's up to you on how you want to proceed. If you do make a claim on your own insurance, you must disclose it when you ask for any new property insurance quotes in the future - normally for 3-5 years. Some insurers may penalise you, others may not.

Maybe not the answer you were hoping for but I do hope it clarifies the matter

Merry Christmas!

Best, Jason


10:08 AM, 24th December 2018, About 5 years ago

How is it clear cut the neighbour upstairs is at fault ? He is only at fault if he is negligent. If there is a breakdown in a water seal on a pipe or a washing machine starts leaking, that's not the owner occupier fault. Property insurance does not work like that. You have to prove negligence. Something like running a bath then going off to answer the phone and forgetting all about it. Besides its too late as far as premiums not going up . Contact has already been made, insurance companies exchange information and you are on the hook even if you do not make a claim.

Seething Landlord

11:27 AM, 24th December 2018, About 5 years ago

There is no liability for escape of water in these circumstances in the absence of negligence and since it appears that the leak was discovered quickly and dealt with promptly it is quite unlikely that your neighbour is legally liable for the damage to your property. The leading case on this issue is Transco PLC v Stockport MBC 2003.

Rob Crawford

11:52 AM, 24th December 2018, About 5 years ago

This is just one of the risks associated with flats. As JM suggests, if the work to be done (get a professional estimate) is estimated as less than your excess then there is no point in making a claim. If higher than your excess, then after you have made a claim, your insurer will fight your corner. However, do you know what was leaking? If for instance, the leak was due to a deterioration of sealant around the bath in the above flat, you could assume negligence in it's maintenance. Maybe chat with the owner above, if it was my flat I would probably be happy to contribute to your costs.

user_ 8640

13:52 PM, 24th December 2018, About 5 years ago

Obfuscated Data

Good Plan

14:31 PM, 24th December 2018, About 5 years ago

This incident should be treated similarly as a Third Party Claim, like you would in a car accident, you're half way there as the occupant above you has been very helpful, however you'll need to contact your property insurance provider, before they visit (if they do) take photographs of the damaged area, and get quotes for remedial work from reputable builders, report the damage right away to your buildings insurance provider, and when requested send them the quotes and photographs, include any other damage costs like clothing or household items, and check if the water seeped into or below your floor. Your claim total will be made up of your property damage, any incidental belongs damage, and phone calls, emails and postal costs involved. Your local Council should be able to provide you with a list of reputable local builders who have been regularly updated, also there are some 'Trustable' check websites available, finally at the end of the day it does unfortunately come down to whether the claim is lower than your excess, and it might be prudent to first of all have a word with your occupant above to see if they would settle your damages claim themselves, by way of a cash settlement out of their pocket, this will alleviate the need for you to claim, and at the same time would not impact on your neighbours next insurance policy costs, which invariably do rise after a claim.

Seething Landlord

17:45 PM, 24th December 2018, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Good Plan at 24/12/2018 - 14:31
This is a bit misleading as none of the incidental costs will be covered under the buildings policy and to recover anything from the third party it would be necessary to prove that he is legally liable - almost certainly impossible unless there is evidence of negligence on his part.

Good Plan

19:55 PM, 24th December 2018, About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 24/12/2018 - 17:45
This is not misleading as Jim is not, I repeat, not claiming off his own insurance policy, and it is neither here nor there whether the above neighbour is negligent or not, an accident or poor maintenance, call it what you will has occurred and damaged Jim's property, the result is Jim has suffered damage, whether it's a small but significant leak or a complete 1 metre high whole flat floor flooding, the end outcome is the same, it's a claim, and I advise Jim to pursue the claim at first trying to get a cash settlement from the owner above, if this fails, claim via his own buildings Insurance who will then contact the owner's Insurance in the flat above, failing all this, if the claim is refused, Jim can sue for liable, depending how strongly he feels. It's worth noting here that Jim tried to deal directly with the above flat owners insurance, but there are very few who will deal directly with the victim, it's nearly always via your own insurance company.

Jireh Homes

21:24 PM, 24th December 2018, About 5 years ago

My experience is that with the majority of escape of water incidents each flat had to claim on own insurance, irrespective if the owner of flat above admits liability. May not seem fair to the flat owner below but this is reality. So unless the cost to repair is much more than excess better not to claim.

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