A dispute about an excess payment and asbestos removal

Home and building insurance Home Emergency Insurance

Alisha complained when her insurer charged her £50 excess for a repair they didn’t carry out because of a disagreement about asbestos removal. 

What happened

Alisha had a leak in her bathroom, so she contacted her insurer to claim under her home emergency policy. The leak was from a damaged waste pipe. The insurer asked Alisha for £50 excess before sending out an engineer to inspect the leak. Alisha paid the excess and the engineer came out. 

The engineer tried to find the source of the leak but couldn’t. He said a roofing contractor would need to lift the tiles on Alisha’s roof to expose the waste pipe. The roofing contractor came out a few days later and found the leak, but also identified asbestos. 

The insurer said they couldn’t do the repair until the asbestos was removed. They said this was Alisha’s responsibility. Alisha disagreed and made a complaint to the insurer. 

Unhappy with the outcome of her complaint and that the insurer kept the £50 excess, Alisha complained to us. She felt the insurer should have arranged the asbestos removal because it was part of the repair that needed to be done. 

What we said

We checked the terms and conditions of Alisha’s policy to see if the insurer should have arranged asbestos removal. The policy documents made it clear that this was Alisha’s responsibility, so we couldn’t ask the insurer to do it.  

We asked Alisha if she had arranged asbestos removal in the meantime. She said she hadn’t. The leak had continued and caused further damage.  

As the repair hadn’t happened, we asked the insurer why it had kept the £50 excess. They said it was because they’d arranged two visits to diagnose the leak. 

We checked the terms and conditions to see when an excess was applicable. This was only in the event of a completed repair.  

We didn’t think it was the insurer’s job to arrange the asbestos removal. However, we didn’t think it was fair for them to keep the £50 excess. We asked the insurer to refund the £50 excess with interest.