How is buildings insurance arranged?
All leasehold flats are insured on a block policy underwritten by OCASO. Your flat is included on it and the interest of any lessee and/or mortgagee is automatically included.
When should I expect to pay my insurance premium?
The period of insurance starts on 1 April each year and premiums paid by the Council at that time with the appropriate recharge of premium form part of your Service Charges. If you buy your property after the beginning of the current policy period at 1 April, you might be subject to automatic free cover during the remainder of that first year until the next 31 March. We would then bill you when Service Charges are due for the next period of insurance beginning 1 April.
What does my buildings insurance cover?
Your policy covers the structure of your flat, including its fixtures and fittings, and any part of the communal areas that your lease says you are responsible for. Subject to specified policy conditions and policy limits it provides additional cover such as short-term accommodation costs, rent, and Locks and Keys. The policy also provides Property Owners Liability cover in respect of your legal liability as owner of the building. The policy does not cover the contents of your home or your personal possessions. A Summary of Cover is provided together with the General Conditions policy wording. The Summary of Cover includes the policy excesses and limits applicable and the General Conditions booklet details the full insurance cover provided. If you have lost it or need an up to date copy, copies are available:
Insurance policy no. 323583 from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019
- Residential Leasehold Buildings Insurance Certificate 2019-2020 (pdf)
- Residential Leasehold Buildings Insurance General Conditions Booklet (pdf)
Or alternatively please contact the following for a copies of policy documents:
- Harlow Council Insurance Team on 01279 446030/6215 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Harlow Council Homeownership Team on 01279 446424 or email: email@example.com.
How do I insure the contents of my home?
You are responsible for insuring the contents and personal possessions in your home. You can arrange contents insurance through any bank, building society, post office, local insurance broker or direct insurer, in person or via the telephone or Internet.
How do I know if the damage to my property is covered by insurance?
This depends on what caused the damage. For example, insurers will not pay for any damage resulting from wear and tear, faulty building work or lack of maintenance.
How do I make a claim?
In the first instance, contact Davies Managed Systems, OCASO’s claims department, on 0344 856 2032 (quoting Policy Number 323583). A claims advisor will register your claim over the phone, taking all details, and completing a ‘Statement of Claim’ with you, which sets out what has occurred. Once the information has been collected, they will check that cover is in place, and issue you with a copy of the Statement of Claim, for you to sign and return to them, along with any other documentation or information they may ask you for, to enable them to consider your claim further.
The claims line is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and therefore if your claim is an emergency, you should make contact with them on the above telephone number as soon as you can.
What do I do if I need Emergency Assistance?
If you have an emergency and urgently need a tradesperson, you can call the 24 hour claims line on 0344 856 2032, and the team will arrange for an approved tradesperson to be sent out, or on a major loss, they will appoint a Loss Adjuster, who will be able to assist you.
Where a contractor is appointed, you will be expected to pay for any work that is undertaken, but if the damage is covered by your insurance policy, you will be reimbursed for the costs, less any policy excess.
Claims involving theft, attempted theft or malicious damage
If you are claiming for theft, attempted theft or malicious damage, you must first inform the police of the incident and get a crime reference number.
Who can I contact for more information or advice about my building insurance?
Contact our Insurance Team on: Tel: 01279 446030 / 446215 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If your enquiry is technical or is about what the insurance policy means, we may ask you to contact the insurers
For technical queries, about your policy cover, and claims please call the OCASO team on 0344 856 2032. Alternatively, you may wish to email them at email@example.com or write to the following address:
OCASO Claims Handling Unit
PO Box 2801
Stoke on Trent
Points to Remember
- Policy Cover - All insurance policies set out clearly the risks that they do or do not cover. Please ensure that you have read your policy carefully and make sure that the loss you have suffered is covered. If in doubt, please contact the OCASO claims team.
- Fraudulent Claims - Such claims are taken very seriously, and action may be taken against claimants making fraudulent claims. A claim that is considered fraudulent is one that is inflated (the value falsely enhanced) or bogus, and will result in the claim being denied. A database of claims made is maintained and this may be shared by OCASO with other Insurers.
- Reasonable Care - Insurance is not a maintenance contract and is no substitute for keeping the property in a reasonable state of repair. If damage is caused as a result of failing to take reasonable care of the property, then the loss may not be covered. Should loss or damage be as a result of lack of maintenance, the claim may be reduced or declined. For example, if you were aware that roof tiles were missing or loose, and your roof suffered weather related damage, your claim may not be valid.
What is the difference between my buildings and my contents?
Buildings insurance covers the structure of the home, together with its fixtures and fittings. Contents insurance provides cover for the contents of the home, contents that you would take with you if you moved home. As an approximate guide, if you were to turn your home upside down, everything that fell out would be your contents, and most of what remains would be buildings.
For further information relating to the items covered under the buildings policy, please refer to your policy wording.
I understand that my policy is subject to an excess. What is this?
The excess is the amount that you contribute if you make a claim for damage or loss to your home. The policy excess is the part of the claim that you pay, and OCASO will cover you for the remaining amount. The claims advisor will inform you of any policy excess when you contact them, and details can also be found in your policy schedule (Summary of Cover).
OCASO will deduct the amount of the excess from the settlement of your claim, or alternatively the appointed contractor or supplier will collect this amount from you on OCASO’s behalf.
Do I pay an excess if I make a claim even if it is not my fault?
As outlined above, you are responsible for the payment of the policy excess even if the damage was caused by someone else, for example a water overflow from the flat above, or a motor vehicle impacting with your property.
However, if an accident is not your fault, it may be possible to obtain reimbursement from the person(s) responsible.
What happens once I have made a claim?
It is important that you keep damaged items, and not dispose of them, as the insurers may wish to inspect them. OCASO advise that burnt or soaked items may be stored in a shed or garage until such time that they confirm they may be disposed of.
You will be asked to obtain competitive estimates for replacement or repair of damaged/lost property. If you have difficulty in obtaining estimates, for example if damage is widespread in your area, and as a result tradesmen are hard to track down, then please inform OCASO as soon as possible.
Please collect receipts and try and list what is missing or damaged beyond repair. If you do not have receipts, then instruction manuals or even original boxes and containers can help insurers to validate your claim.
Once settlement has been agreed with you, OCASO will forward payment to you within 5 working days. Alternatively, they may arrange for goods to be replaced or repaired. Where they instruct a contractor or supplier, as part of the settlement of your claim, OCASO will pay their invoice directly, less any agreed excess, which the contractor/supplier will collect from you separately.
Can I claim on behalf of my neighbour if I caused damage to their property?
The insurance policy provides cover for damage to your property only. If you do actually accidentally cause damage to another person’s property, for example water damage to the flat below, then they will need to submit a claim to their own Insurers directly (and notify repairs on 01279 446666 if a Council flat). If it is deemed that the damage was your responsibility, you may be contacted in pursuit of recovery of the third party outlay. In such circumstances, please provide them with the details of the OCASO claims team above, and forward any correspondence to the team without delay.
I understand that a Loss Adjuster may be appointed – what is their role?
The role of a loss adjuster is wide and varied, but principally he/she is there to offer a claims management service to you as the policyholder, and also to your Insurer, OCASO. The loss adjuster will investigate the circumstances surrounding the loss and will evaluate the extent of the damage to your property. He/She will discuss with you the next steps to be taken in order to progress your claim and will assist in the reinstatement of your property. The loss adjuster will report their findings to the OCASO claims team.
What do I do if I am unhappy regarding the claim settlement?
If you are unhappy with your claim settlement, please provide in writing your reasons for your dissatisfaction, and any evidence that you feel could aid your dispute. OCASO will review this and respond to you as soon as possible. If their response is not to your satisfaction, you should refer you to the complaints procedure outlined in the back of your policy wording.