We looked into a complaint from a mosque when their minarets were damaged after a storm, but their insurer denied their claim.

What happened

After there were strong winds, the Central Mosque found that their minarets had been damaged. So their management decided to claim for the storm damage under its buildings insurance. The insurer accepted that the wind was 'storm-force', and sent a structural engineer to assess the damage. 

The engineer's report suggested that there were cracks in the minarets. These may have been caused by problems with its original design and construction. The insurer decided to decline the mosque's claim. Following an unsuccessful complaint, the mosque came to us. 

What we said

In our investigation, we saw that the engineer had said the report was based on 'a limited assessment' of the evidence. They'd also asked for further structural plans to make a more detailed assessment. The insurer said the cost of the claim meant it didn't merit paying for further reports. 

We decided that if the insurer wanted to reject the claim, it would need to rely on more persuasive evidence than the engineer's 'limited' report. 

We also needed to look into another element of the engineer's report. They had commented that winds before the damage happened were 'strong rather than extreme'. But we found weather reports showing wind speeds of 73 miles per hour (force 12 on the Beaufort scale). Based on this evidence, we felt that the report wasn't reliable or persuasive enough. 

The mosque's management team also sent us photos of the damage the day after the storm. They showed the minarets leaning out of place and nearby tiles dislodged. We thought that this was typical of damage from storm-strength winds. 

Looking at the evidence, we concluded that the storm was more likely the cause of the minaret damage than any structural defect. We told the insurer to treat the claim as one for storm damage.