Post editor Stephanie Denton's ongoing escape of water claim saga takes on a distinctly Kafka-esque twist...
Missed the first instalment? Click here Blog: I believe in fairies but not insurance
As my son patiently counts down the 24 sleeps until a big fat fella in a big red suit comes down our chimney with presents, I complete my own countdown of 10 sleeps hoping for a chap in a boiler suit to come through the front door and bring a dehumidifier for me.
‘Tis the night before D-day and not a sound has been heard from my cut-out-the-middle-man insurer, but I do receive a cheery call from the independent flooring specialist at 5pm to reassure me I'm first on his list tomorrow. I'm so excited I can't sleep.
Morning dawns, I pack my son off for school and return to find a disappointingly small car on my drive, rather than a huge van containing the much wished for appliance. Anyway, Jason is welcomed in to 'look' at my floor and offered a cup of tea (I know how these things work - you always offer a workman tea or there will be a black mark against your name before you even start).
On first glance at my lino he says: "I see you've had some water damage." Hallelujah! He adds: "Do you want to tell me what happened?"
Now I told my listed insurer all about this but he informs me he's independent and there to verify the claim, so he gets the whole story again.
I also admit I know a bit about insurance because I write about it, and I express my disappointment at proceedings so far. Offering an explanation for why it's taken 10 days to get to this point, he says he's based in Yorkshire but because the firm is understaffed due to cutbacks he's been working in my area - Hertfordshire - for the last four months.
Then he spends a bit of time taking pictures and poking around, although he only actually looks at a tiny section under the lino. He finally gets the damp measure out. 'Here we go,' I think. It's a little black device with lights running up the side of it. As he touches the floor the light goes from the bottom to the top and he declares: "Well on a scale of nought to damp ... its wet!"
Verified. And finally someone mentions dehumidifiers.
Now comes the decision of what to do. My insurer will, of course, replace the floor and return it to its original state, or I can have a cash settlement - but I'm reminded this will only be to the amount it would cost the insurer, with its supply chains, to get it done. Or I can drop the claim and do it myself.
Asked whether it might be cheaper to do it myself, with my industry standard escape of water excess of £350 he seems to think so - although he points out I'm mistaken in thinking it's an industry standard and claims if you push for it to be removed it can be. Some insurers - he names Axa - have as little as £50 voluntary with £50 mandatory - for escape of water. Noted for next time.
He adds it's likely to be quicker too. The lino alone - all 4 metres by 3.5 metres of it - will take two weeks to come, and who knows when a drying machine will be delivered - but I could pop out and hire one this afternoon. And if I did go ahead with this, does Jason send for the cavalry? Oh no, he just looks at the floor. I need to go back to my insurer to organise the next step. Won't they contact me once you've filed your report? "I wouldn't have thought so," he replies.
Jason's advice is clear, so he advises me he'll just put his report on my file to give me time to think about it and leaves, although he casually mentions on his way out that another week like this and my floor joists might start to buckle - but
that is likely to fall to the buildings insurer, not the contents one. I call the insurer.
I tell my insurer I've been verified, and with no check on the system or a ‘Yes, I can see that report', the chap seems to take my word for it. Nonplussed about my heightened concerns on timescales for a dehumifier he says he'll call me back when he has an idea of when one can be delivered. He checks with the suppliers and calls me back to offer a date - in three days' time - but can't offer a time. The supplier will do that. Hardly a seamless supply chain then.
Then John from the damage management company calls to give me the exact time he will be with me in three days, and to his credit he is indeed and finally there is a van on my drive. John very kindly covers his shoes before entering the house and then asks for my story again - with tea supplied. Wearily I explain my plight and he agrees I've had a tough time but assures me I'm in good hands and it will be sorted now.
He then spends 20 minutes taking pictures, poking around and looking at a tiny section under the lino. I'm not sure what he has done differently from Jason and his machine agrees that it is 100% damp, but I let him carry on.
He asks if I've heard from a loss adjuster as he's spotted a few more bits of damp on the bottom of cupboards, meaning there is a possibility the floating floor might be damaged and need to be replaced. Fears sets in that a third person will be coming to take pictures, poke around and look at a tiny section under the Lino.
Despite Jason's fears of the floor buckling, John is happy to suggest I leave it until after Christmas to get started, but after seeing my face when he mentions the floor is black under the lino and that it could take between three weeks and three months to dry, he says he'll get the machines while he checks when it will be possible to get the lino up. Apparently he needs confirmation it's okay to continue. I'm no expert - I only write about this day in and day out - but I'm a bit surprised this is the order it's being done in - surely you need access to the water under the floor to dry it out, but what do I know?
A Driz Air 1200 dehumidifier and a fan of some sort are installed and I'm booked in for another four day's time for the lino removal. John kindly shows me how to turn the machines off but advises I keep them on as long as possible. He heads off and I close the door to the kitchen happy in the knowledge I'm being looked after.
I head off to collect my son from childcare and on our return head towards the kitchen to show him the machines and reassure him that the noise is nothing to worry about. All smiles I turn on the light and step into ... a puddle of water.
Click here to read the next instalment Blog: In out, in out shake it all about
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