People in all walks of life insure themselves against risks. However, sometimes insurers seek to avoid policies, reject or repudiate claims or even make claims against their own policyholders. If this happens to you, our specialist insurance solicitors can advise you and help you to put things right.
Our solicitors have experience of acting for and against insurers in disputes arising from insurance policies.
We can use our knowledge and experience when advising you so that you can be sure that your solicitors not only know the law, but also understand how insurers work and how they make decisions.
Insurance disputes can arise for a number of reasons but common causes include:
- Insurers exercising a “Reservation of Rights” when dealing with a claim under a policy meaning that they can later try to claim back their outlay from their policyholder. This can often happen with insurance policies which prevent insurers from rejecting a claim, such as employers’ liability insurance and certain professional indemnity insurance policies;
- Insurers rejecting or repudiating a claim on the grounds that the policyholder is said to have breached a condition precedent in the insurance policy;
- Insurers rejecting or repudiating a claim on the grounds that the policyholder has failed to properly notify them of a claim in accordance with the terms of the policy;
- Insurers relying on exclusion clauses to reject or repudiate a claim (exclusion clauses in insurance policies will generally be construed in favour of the policy holder where there is ambiguity and there is often scope to argue that a particular exclusion clause does not apply to the claim made under the policy);
- Insurers voiding insurance policies on the grounds that the policyholder has misrepresented or failed to disclose material facts to them when applying for the policy. Even if you do mistakenly and honestly provide some incorrect information in your insurance application, the insurer does not always have the right to simply void the policy. You can read more about that here;
- Insurers seeking to increase an insurance premium retrospectively on the grounds that the policy holder misrepresented or failed to disclose material facts to them prior to taking out the policy (this happens most often in certain professional indemnity insurance policies where the insurers are unable to avoid a claim and so instead recoup their losses by increasing the premium retrospectively).
Examples of matters handled by members of our team
- Defending clients against a six figure claim from an insurer who carried out substantive remedial works to their home after a fire, only to then declare that the policy was void ad intitio. The insurers sought to claim the sums they had spent from our clients. We successfully complained to the Financial Ombudsman who found in our clients’ favour and ordered the policy to be reinstated.
- A mediation between a policyholder and its buildings and contents insurer, who repudiated a claim under the policy when the policyholder’s commercial premises burnt down in a fire caused by a stray fire work. The insurer contended that the policyholder had not disclosed the existence of a joinery workshop on the ground floor to it.
- Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service about a caravan insurer’s refusal to pay out when the policyholder’s caravan was stolen;
- Litigation against insurers who alleged that a policyholder’s claim was fraudulent;
- A mediation with professional indemnity insurers who claimed that multiple excesses applied to a claim under a policy, with the result that the policyholder would effectively have been left uninsured against a claim worth more than £500,000;
- Representing a policyholder in a claim arising out of the sinking of a private yacht with high value fixtures, fittings and accessories and the insurer’s attempt to avoid the policy upon discovering the value of the yacht including the accessories.
We also regularly advise clients on insurance disputes arising from road traffic incidents.
When insurers reject claims or avoid policies, they often inform their policyholders that they should take independent legal advice.
Unfortunately, many of the firms who specialise in handling insurance related disputes only act for insurance companies and are either unable or unwilling to act for policyholders against insurers.
We are not tied to insurers in this way. As a result, we are able to provide you with specialist, independent advice in insurance disputes.