5b – The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly – Insurance Companies
In our case the cost of loss was astounding to us. AMI helped us put together an inventory of the contents and the replacement costs. It was way beyond our meagre budget. We had been frugal when we worked and bought good quality items that would last us through our retirement years. We had also purchased good quality clothing and now all of this was in jeopardy due to others not doing their due diligence.
We thought that our insurance might cover this type of scenario but we were wrong. However in our case being tenants our insurance company informed us that it wasn’t our insurance that would cover this anyway as it was the responsibility of the landlord because it was the landlord’s property that had contaminated and therefore damaged our good .and as such should be covered under their insurance.
Two points to make really clear here is that
a) If we had purchased the property, moved in and then found out our goods were contaminated then our current contents policy would not have covered this. The insurance companies are making it an exception to their cover by classifying it as ‘chemical contamination’. This type of classification was initially meant for chemical spillage type scenarios but is being tweaked in order to eliminate policy holders being able to claim for meth contamination.
b) The landlord had to have adequate cover under their policy in order for a claim to be made for our goods. This was not the case.
We were later to find out that most landlords or property owners would not realise they were not covered.
Insurance companies ARE PAYING ATTENTION to the rising number of potential claims for meth contamination and are finding ways to not cover it under their insurance policy.
For example as a landlord if a Clan lab is discovered on the property then the insurance company can state you are not covered because the tenant was operating a business and you are only covered for residential use. This not only means you cannot claim for the remediation costs but any property contaminated such as ours was would not be covered either. If a Clan lab is not discovered then they can state that you are not covered because it wasn’t a Clan lab and use of meth is not considered to be chemical damage. Both ways they win and you lose.
As a tenant maybe your landlord isn’t covered so they will not be at all happy to enter into any admission of responsibility and may simply try to get you out of there as soon as possible and bluff you into thinking you have no claim against them.
Our lesson – Double check your policy whether a landlord or tenant.
Even if a claim can be made or if you have to go through any form of legal process you will need details of every item that is affected. This means date of purchase, cost of purchase, depreciation of item, replacement cost, photos of item to prove ownership and receipts for purchase. This is a very extensive list of requirements. As the majority of our goods were years old and we had had a number of moves in that time the majority of that information was lacking. This left us having to take photos of everything in the unit, search the internet for replacement costs and estimate the date of purchase.
Our lesson – Take photos of everything you buy to prove you own it and what it costs
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