Les and Julie had been clients of their insurance broker for years, trusting that the broker would arrange the insurance cover they needed.
Les and Julie bought a house from a company that specialises in relocatable homes. The company arranged for a house moving firm to remove the house from its city site onto Les and Julie’s farm.
Les and Julie’s broker arranged insurance cover for the house removal. The cover would end as soon as the house was placed on the farm. Les spoke with the broker’s adviser, Sam, to arrange construction works insurance to start once the removal insurance ceased. Sam noted that Les would call back with further necessary information including the transit date.
A week later, Julie phoned Sam’s colleague to tell her that the house was in transit. Sam’s colleague told Julie to ring Sam to confirm the construction works cover. The next evening, a Friday, Julie phoned Sam after hours asking him to place the construction works cover as the house had now been moved. Sam did not get the message until he returned to work on the following Monday.
In the meantime, heavy rain fell. Unfortunately, the rain caused significant water damage: broken windows, a hole in the ceiling, wet carpets, and damage to gib. The house movers turned up on the Sunday to install tarpaulins, but they did not install them properly so the damage continued.
The relocatable homes company accepted responsibility for the damage caused by its house movers and worked to repair the damage to the whole house. That was a good outcome for Les and Julie, because their insurer declined their claim for the damage. Even if the construction works insurance had been in place, there was an exclusion in the policy for water entering through unprotected openings.
Les and Julie complained to FSCL about the service provided by the broker.
Les and Julie’s view
They trusted the broker to look after their needs, and to be available to help when things went wrong. When things did go wrong, Les and Julie felt poorly treated and very let down. They felt the broker should have made sure they had construction works cover, and that the broker should have done more to get some compensation for their loss.
We noted that even if cover had been in place before the water damage, the policy would not have covered Les and Julie’s loss. This is not the broker’s fault; it simply comes down to policy wording.
We considered the broker did not cause Les and Julie financial loss, and we thought the service provided by the broker was reasonable.
We recommended, and Les and Julie agreed, to discontinue their complaint.
We encourage brokers to aspire to best practice in all aspects of customer service. In this case though, the broker was not responsible for Les and Julie’s loss: the house moving company was responsible, and there would have been no cover anyway due to the water damage.