Find out why structural warranty insurance is so important during your renovation project.

A twisted and broken iron spiral staircase.

If you’ve been fortunate never to have suffered a significant insurance claim during your life, it can be difficult to visualise what claims could occur. What first becomes visible as a crack in the ceiling or wall can prove to be something much worse, costing thousands of pounds’ worth of damage.

These are two of the losses we have seen, which illustrate how important it is to get your insurance right when making changes to the structure of the building.

When brickwork fell out of the chimney
A contractor was undertaking demolition and refurbishment works at three 18th Century properties. Two of these were to be demolished and rebuilt while the third was to be underpinned and refurbished.

A JCT 21.2.1 policy was issued in the name of both the employer and contractor. In the property being refurbished, plaster was removed from a section of brickwork and shortly after this a section of brickwork actually fell out of the chimney.

What first becomes visible as a crack in the ceiling or wall can prove to be something much worse, costing thousands of pounds’ worth of damage.

Cracks developed and after two weeks, damage was at such a level that a Dangerous Structure notice was served, resulting in a requirement for demolition of the property. The advice of expert engineers was sought, and the opinion was that collapse was inevitable, although this could not have been reasonably foreseen. Therefore, indemnity was provided under the JCT 21.2.1 policy.

The total claim payment was £993,903 including £7,402 expenses. The damages included £500,000 for demolition works and £393,000 building work.

The premium paid to RSA for the JCT 21.2.1 cover was £5,500.

Shop conversion leads to cracks in the party wall
A contractor was carrying out the conversion of a 100-year-old shop and flats into a doctor’s surgery. The works involved removal of the existing roof from both buildings, demolition of internal walls and floors and construction of a new wall. There was also some underpinning.

The first sign of damage was cracking in the bathroom of a neighbouring property sharing a party wall. An engineer’s inspection concluded that vibration/foundation adjustment from the underpinning work was responsible for the cracking.

Generally the re-adjustment of foundations after underpinning does not result in significant cracking to buildings. However, the conclusion was that damage occurred as a result of the underpinning and vibration by the works. Therefore, indemnity was provided under the JCT 21.2.1 policy.

The first sign of damage was cracking in the bathroom of a neighbouring property sharing a party wall. An engineer’s inspection concluded that vibration/foundation adjustment from the underpinning work was responsible for the cracking.

The claim was settled for £275,000. The premium paid to RSA for JCT 21.2.1 cover was £3,500.