This is an interview with one of our clients Graham Pretty of Your Claim. Your Claim are Loss Assessors who assist people trying to claim on their insurance. They also provide a contracting service to carry out repairs.
Graham, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. To start, please can you describe who some of your clients in Kensington might be and what services you might perform for them?
We have a high profile client who has a mansion block in Knightsbridge, also the freeholder for Arthur Court in Queensway and another client nearby that owns Boydell Court in St John’s Wood which has 295 units. Beyond that we work all across West London and North London round to North-East London.
In general our clients are residential leaseholders, private home owners, letting & managing agents, block management companies, investors, landlords and property managers responsible for the maintenance of residential and commercial buildings.
You must have seen some buildings that are in a very bad way. What’s the worst that you’ve seen?
Absolutely we get involved in managing some devastated properties. Fires are always the worst and if it ‘s not the fire it’s the smoke damage because they’re so extensive, it gets everywhere.
We had a semi-detached property in Ipswich, a bungalow. We saw the video when the landlords opened the front door and there was nine inches of water which came out. A leak had been flooding the property for nearly a month by that point.
We’ve also just completed a fire damaged block of flats off Camden High Road. There was an electrical fire in the ceiling void between the second and third floor. We had to strip back everything to the structure and replace the roof. The project was seven or eight months of repairs.
And when the client contacts you what’s the process that’s involved in getting things sorted out?
The process is we work under a letter of Authority. This provides two functions, it enables us to speak to insurer’s directly, to register the loss, make the claim and act on behalf of the insured. To really negotiate a settlement all the way through the process from first notice of loss, to validation, project management, repairs, handover. It sets out a contract between us and our client. We may work alongside the client to repair the building or just negotiate a settlement for them. That’s typically a cash settlement. Some clients choose to get a cash settlement and then manage us to do the repairs.
We like to be involved as early as we possibly can. If we’re involved at the outset we can have the maximum impact and get the maximum value for our clients. The longer the insurance company manages the process the more they take the decisions away from the insured and the policyholder.
It must be difficult when there is damage to more than one property. What happens for example when there’s water damage in a mansion block with multiple leaseholders ?
It’s actually surprisingly simple. The insured in that scenario will be the freeholder. So the negotiation is between the freeholder and insurance company. The only tricky bit is getting access to the property and getting everyone working together to a common goal. Negotiating a settlement is relatively easy.
I would expect there are a lot of insurance claims for business interruption in RBKC at present due to Covid. Is that something you can assist with ?
Generally no, we’re property damage assessors. We have helped some previous clients with their Covid business interruption claims but it’s not something we specialise in. That type of service is better provided by solicitors.
What advice would you give someone who has suffered damage and is wondering if they can make a claim for it?
We’ve got a top ten tips document that we send out to a number of our clients and it really does help people prepare themselves and adjust to the mindset required for making a claim. One of the most common misconceptions is that your insurance company is there to help you through every step of the claim. You are in a slightly competitive environment and it’s a game situation. While you always look to settle a claim amicably you have to protect your position.
If anyone wants the top ten tips document they can email me directly and I’ll send them the document.
What question are you never asked and should be?
Is the insurance company working for my benefit ? Because the answer is not always and that’s what we can help with.
How can people contact you?
Via our website your-claim.com but an important point to make to any insurance broker, managing agent, policyholder is that we don’t charge fees to the policyholder. We’re also happy to work at risk and come out and inspect damage to advise policyholders if there is a genuine claim to be had. Loss Assessing is a licensed and regulated activity.