Landlord’s insurance woes

hoody 13 February 2011 12

During the rains recently, our tenant left a window open and some water staining occurred on the carpet in the lounge room, probably about a meter square or so. No hassles with the tenant at all, but we were surprised to find that after lodging a claim and noting our policy has a $1000 excess, that a so called ‘assessor’ had come out to the place and cut out the offending square of carpet leaving the floor boards exposed without reference to us.

It’s Saturday so no-one from the relevant department of the insurer is available to assist us with our issue until Monday, however the person we spoke to today suggested that their agent would take such action in the event that the stained carpet presented a hazard.

Now I’m not sure how much more of a hazard a stain can be than a removed section of the carpet and a subsequent uneven section of the floor next to a window (trip hazard possibly for the infant at this house). Also the child has already started to sample the culinary qualities of the remaining underlay. Since we can probably replace all the carpet in this room ourselves for less than $1000 (remember it’s a rental so it’s not the finest berber we’re putting back in), where should I stand in terms of dealing with the ‘company’?

  1. Committing to paying the excess and having the company’s agent put back a square of probably not matching carpet (which appears to be their default position);
  2. Telling them to get stuffed, cancelling the policy and laying new carpet ourselves;
  3. Refusing to pay the excess and demanding that the company now replaces the now completely ruined carpet, which we are now totally committed to replacing thanks to the arbitrary actions of the ‘agent’.

I’m leaning towards option 2, we might have just lived with the stain honestly, it didn’t really make a difference to the functionality of the carpets, we (probably naively, knowing all the hoohaa with flood damage and insurance companies in general of recent weeks) assumed that an assessor would look at it and make a recommendation, if anything.

We like our tenants and don’t want to f**k them around, they need a floor. Viewpoints rioters?

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12 Responses to Landlord’s insurance woes
hoody hoody 7:22 pm 14 Feb 11

So an update. It seems that the agent has acted outside his area of responsibility. We have had an apology from the insurance company and a ‘promise’ that the matter will be rectified. I think the case in this instance is that the insurance company outsources the ‘assessment’ to an agent who has connections to, or is more likely an employee of a carpet business. Of course the agent will recommend and possibly go to certain lengths (just speculating) to ensure that a full replacement of the carpet will be required. If anyone wonders why their premiums are high, then perhaps this is an indicator. Having been a big fan of Vizard and Moon’s Roger Ramshett and his forty thieves magic carpet cave skits from Fast Forward of the late 80’s I have derived some laughs from these shenanigans. Haven’t decided yet what we’ll finally do. Guess I just learned something about the world….thanks for all your posts.

hoody hoody 12:51 pm 14 Feb 11

thanks homeone, caf – that pretty much sums it up. My original post was a bit lengthy. I spose I should also have said that when I cancel the existing policy, there’s a good chance that I will take steps to cover a $400,000 asset with a new insurance policy, but thanks MrPC for the advice.

homeone homeone 9:34 am 14 Feb 11

I agree with CAF.

Removal of a portion of the carpet by the insurers agent has greatly increased any requirement for repair/replacement of the carpet.

The tenant probably didn’t care about the water stain and reported the stain as they are required to under the lease. It sounds like the landlord and tenant may well have, in the absence of the insurance company ‘coughing up’, agreed that nothing needed to be done.

I’d be putting the ‘wood’ on the insurer. The action of their assessor has in effect, it seems to me, admitted their liability.

caf caf 9:51 pm 13 Feb 11

MrPC: The complaint doesn’t seem to be anything to do with what was covered by the policy, but rather about the “assessor” taking actions that go somewhat beyond “assessing”, without actually asking the owners first.

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 9:34 pm 13 Feb 11

First, contact the insurer and query as to why the carpet was removed (there may be a legitimate reason). Ask the insurer what they are doing to remedy the problem, and an anticipated timeline.

Once this is done, cancel the policy and go find a reputable insurer with a sensible excess.

Gerry-Built Gerry-Built 9:09 pm 13 Feb 11

Yeah, great; let’s start making totally unreasonable comparisons between the greatest disaster in Australia’s history and an everyday insurance claim. You know, life goes on for the rest of the country… It doesn’t stop just cause things are a little difficult for a big group of our northern friends :-/

MrPC MrPC 9:03 pm 13 Feb 11

Person buys insurance without reading the policy or understanding what they are paying for. Person keeps paying premiums. Person assumes they are covered when something slightly bad happens. Person gets angry and lashes out due to own stupidity in not having read the policy. Person cancels insurance. Person then starts blaming everyone else again much later when something really bad happens like a catastrophic fire, something that would have been covered by insurance, except that they cancelled their insurance in a huff earlier.

Person still doesn’t learn to take responsibility for their own actions.

Brianna Brianna 8:39 pm 13 Feb 11

Do tell, who is the insurer?

Chop71 Chop71 7:57 pm 13 Feb 11

Dear Julia,

Can I get a share of your flood levy? Would you mind putting it up .5% to cover people like me?
I can’t wait for the cyclone levy, bushfire levy, I don’t have insurance levy, the neighbours ate my cat levy ….. I reckon your a fair chance of getting something out of them.

Maybe if you wait for the governments next Carpet Replacement & Allignment Program

hoody hoody 7:29 pm 13 Feb 11

We’ve not really saved masses on the premium and as for the mould factor…well the area affected is right in the sun, plus the tenants aleady had them cleaned and dried. It really was just a stain. But you’re right though we’ll be replacing the entire carpet for less than the excess, cancelling the policy and not recommending this particular insurer to anyone who’ll listen. Probably could have been more specific about my gripe – is it unreasonable to assume they would have contacted me first to explain the options? In a different era, this was called customer service.

I-filed I-filed 6:05 pm 13 Feb 11

Waterlogged carpet gets mouldy quickly and will start to stink the place out and potentially pose a mould allergy hazard – that might explain the assessor’s prompt action. Waterlogged carpet & underlay has to either be patched or the whole carpet replaced – if there was a possibility of cleaning and drying, the assessor would certainly have preferred that (cheaper) option.

I’d say the tripping danger is minimal next to a window – but you could seal it with gaffer tape if you’re worried about the tenants tripping.

If your excess is $1,000 (which is exceptionally high), and as you say they are tenants, and the carpet is super-cheap anyway, they won’t mind if you patch rather than have to replace the whole carpet. (Replacing the whole carpet isn’t an option if you will only get the last few dollars back from the insurance company, and lose your no-claim bonus). Remember, you’ve saved masses of money on premiums (the reason why you will have nominated the huge excess). Presumably if the patching will only cost you a couple of hundred dollars to do yourselves, you’re still ahead.

If the tenant’s child is eating the underlay, probably won’t do him/her a lot of harm – she/he is likely to just have a bite and spit it out, and not actually ingest any. Ditto re sealing with gaffer tape.

Bring out your inner Pollyanna and compare the trauma with that of the Qld flood victims I guess …

screaming banshee screaming banshee 5:39 pm 13 Feb 11

Insurance is really for the big stuff. Personally, and this goes for all types of insurance house/car whatever, if the cost of repairs is up to double the premium just take care of it yourself. If you claim for every little thing your premiums go up.

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