A couple had just moved in to their new house when the kitchen floor gave way. It turned out that it had not been reinforced properly and needed repairs costing over £20,000. The insurers pointed out that it was an inherent structural defect and therefore beyond the scope of insurance. Furthermore, the pre-purchase survey had pointed out a problem with the floor.
The story is covered in detail on the thisismoney.co.uk website. The site points out quite rightly that if you have a survey that identifies problems with the house you are buying you should notify the insurers as part of the process of taking out buildings cover. Insurers need to know about any structural issues and pre-existing damage. The proposal form needs to be checked very carefully alongside the survey report. As well as affecting owner-occupiers this is also an issue for our landlord insurance clients who might be buying older properties in need of renovation before letting them to tenants. The point is that buildings insurance is not a repair contract- it exists to cover unexpected events like floods and fires.
If you are buying a property that may have some structural issues you need to clear about what needs to be done to satisfy your insurers. In this case the policyholders were looking at a repair bill of over £20,000 but just imagine how much worse it could have been if someone had been badly injured. You need to know where you stand before an accident happens so make sure the insurers are fully in the picture before the policy starts. People often leave the question of insurance cover to the last minute when they are buying a property but this can be a mistake if there needs to be discussion with them about structural issues.