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Mirror Money: 3 insurance policies but I still lost out; FLOOD COST HECTOR pounds 3,200.

HECTOR Proud wasn't too worried after a burst radiator flooded half his flat.

Admittedly there was half an inch of water throughout much of the four-bedroom basement home, and the bill for damages to radiators and carpets was around pounds 3,200.

But Hector, 29, from London, has three insurance policies so he reckoned he wouldn't be out of pocket.

Unfortunately he was wrong as all the insurers came up with reasons why they couldn't pay the whole bill.

Hector, who runs his own firm, Idea Generation, had contents insurance, buildings insurance and a policy, called system insurance, to cover his boiler and radiators.

He started with the contents insurance by NatWest for which he pays pounds 150 a year.

It agreed to pay pounds 1,800 for the carpets but radiators don't count as contents so it was on to the buildings insurance.

Insurer Axa, which Hector pays for buildings cover as part of his pounds 1,500 annual service charge, told him that as he lives in a block of flats the policy only covers damage to communal areas.

Replacing radiator pipes around his flat didn't count, so he took advice from the Insurance Ombudsman's Nick Shah.

He told Hector that the London Electricity System Insurance, provided by Pinnacle, which covers his boiler and radiators, was his best bet.

But the policy, which costs pounds 120 a year, wasn't sufficient because pipes for his radiators go underground and the insurer doesn't cover that.

"It seems strange that if you're conscientious enough to take out insurance it doesn't pay out," says Hector.

"I don't think anyone would begin to believe there would be a clause in your insurance that would rule out them paying out.

"It's like someone shaking hands with you and having their fingers crossed behind their backs," says Hector.

Pinnacle maintains it has an exclusion clause on the back of its policy, ruling out covering pipes that go underground.

"We were quite right in turning his claim down. It's just an unfortunate situation," said a spokesman.

After being contacted by Mirror Money, the firm is sending a pounds 100 cheque to Hector as "a goodwill payment" but without any admission of liability.

Hector isn't too impressed as he's still pounds 1,300 out. "It's absurd. Legally I'm sure they are covered, but as customer relations it's not good enough."

The exclusion clause ruling out underground pipes is on the back of Hector's policy in small print among clauses covering war and revolution.

The Association of British Insurers was also surprised that someone with three policies wouldn't be fully covered. "It sounds as if he should have been covered at least once on all of these policies," says ABI's Suzanne Moore, who advises homeowners to think about what they want covered when they take out extra policies.

Often buildings and contents policies will cover damage to pipes caused by bad weather.

The organisation has a factsheet available by writing to the ABI, 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ or by visiting its website at www.abi.org.uk

MIRROR MONEY ADVICE: Check what your insurance does cover. Don't buy extra policies such as System Insurance if they're not going to provide anything extra.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Reilly, Kevan
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 25, 2000
Words:536
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