Large-scale renovation erupts rows with neighbours – we share our views

Amberwood House
A row has erupted over what have been called “horrifying” plans to double the size of the former London home of prima ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn. The excavation of a huge basement and the addition of an extra storey on its rooftop are set to transform the property – but it’s not all plain sailing.

Large scale renovations are complicated – and as a partner involved in the full process, there are a number of insurance and non-insurance challenges we see on the horizon.  We share some insights here…

Amberwood House, opposite the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, was sold in 2011 to developer Prime London Holdings; who are thought to have paid £12.5 million for the then run-down house.

The developer obtained planning permission to excavate a basement in the Twenties building and has recently unveiled plans to add a level on the roof too, which it is expected will be passed by Kensington and Chelsea council’s planning committee shortly. The total works would increase the footprint from 6,167 sq ft to 14,000 sq ft and could increase the property’s value to more than £50 million.

The basement works at the property are already underway.  As the experts in placing high value renovations, it’s no surprise that we are asked to provide cover on a large number of basement excavations. This type of building work sees no signs of abating despite the negativity they can face.  We always encourage clients to follow basement conversion best practice – something that we can confidently advise on thanks to our many years working on projects of this nature.

It’s fair to say that the work at the former home of the prima ballerina has not gone down well – with the neighbours’ views that the plans are out of keeping with the area.   And that’s before you even get into the “constant construction disruption” sited by another who lives nearby.  This response isn’t a surprise.  We see lots of cases where neighbours get extremely frustrated.   Keeping neighbours happy as far as it’s possible to do so is always good advice.

We just hope the developers of Amberwood House have good quality Party Wall insurance – it’s essential as, although it won’t remove the disruption, it will protect any neighbouring properties.  The Party Wall Act (which came into force in 1997 and applies throughout England and Wales) makes a property owner responsible for any damage that their renovation project may cause to a neighbour’s property.

Essentially, this act provides a framework for preventing and resolving any disputes that relate to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. Over the five years to 2015, it was found that 3.7 million Britons had their property damaged as a result of their neighbours’ renovation works – so Party Wall shouldn’t just be seen as an optional extra.*

It remains to be seen how the renovation at Amberwood House fully develops –it’s certainly a big project, and one that will certainly require bespoke renovation insurance. It is projects like this that we insure each and every day.  Contact us to find out more about our work with large scale renovations.

* Cited in this Moneywise article

Storm losses and the importance of Party Wall Insurance

This article has been continued from our company newsletter, which can be found here: March Newsletter

Losses in sector during storm period

Though we avoided any serious problems during the extended period of storm conditions early in the year, we have had a couple of large losses. One relating to water damage and the other fire in a neighbouring property. Both are in London and both in the most expensive bracket which is disappointing, however it does go to show that losses in this sector do happen and when they do they are savagely expensive. I’d encourage you to look carefully at the standard cover and inner limits provided by competing products to make sure that your clients are adequately protected. It’s also a good opportunity to think about how you approach the contracts your clients are entering into and the strength of the insurers who back their contractors. It is not always the obvious areas that lead to problems so make every effort to know your client and assess the risks they are exposed to.

Importance of Party Wall insurance

Party Wall claims (Non-negligent Insurance) continue to occur with the highest frequency, though not always for the right reasons. As neighbours fall out over proposed renovations or damage caused as a result of a project, it’s clear that there are many misconceptions about what non-negligent insurance covers. We’ll be highlighting those in CPD sessions and information sheets to you over the coming months to try to tidy up this complex area.

If you think we could be doing something better then please let us know, it should be easy to do business with us.

Thanks as ever for your support.

Supporting a more unusual contract works requirement

Here at Renovation Insurance Brokers, we are experts in placing insurance for large scale property renovations and part of this is an ability to provide good cover for non-standard items.

In one of our most unusual requests, we were recently asked to arrange cover for a £500,000 church organ which was going to be installed at an insured property.

The custom-made organ was manufactured on the continent and was shipped to the risk address for installation towards the end of the project. We covered this valuable and fragile item from the point it was offloaded on site; tagging it on from the point that the cover provided by the shipper ceased.


When referring to a property’s contents, we are looking at items that are loose; things that are not actually attached the property. But with the organ ultimately due to be physically fixed to the building, it needed to be identified in another way; as part of the ‘contract works’.

An item such as this will only be classed as ‘fixtures and fittings’, and therefore part of the Buildings sum insured, from the point of practical completion. Until that point, it is classed as an item of ‘contract works’. This is true of any item which is to be affixed to the structure.

An exceptional renovation requirement for sure, but just another fine example of the importance of a specialist renovation insurance broker who can work to support unique requirements in large scale renovation projects.

We are often asked to protect contents left on site during a renovation project – find out more here:

Renovation Insurance CPD makes waves in the broker market

We’re hugely excited to have launched a formal CPD training series for brokers this year. The excellent relationships we hold with insurance brokers all over the country are very important to us.

We work with brokers to support their client’s complex renovation insurance needs. The advice and know-how these brokers provide to their clients makes them incredibly valuable and we are committed to supporting them.

We’ve been offering dedicated training to brokers for some time, but we are so confident as to what our structured training offers, that we have developed a unique campaign to fully engage with our broker partners and proactively highlight the impact our training can make. We have a range of training dates available and we travel directly to a broker site to deliver the session, at a time that’s best for them. All for free.

If you’re one of the brokers we work with – or you’re interested in becoming part of our network – take a look at the details here.

Our training sessions enable brokers to understand:

  • When the need for specialist contract works cover arises
  • How to ensure the widest cover for the buildings and works involved
  • Liability in a contract works situation
  • Party wall insurance
  • Contractual implications
  • The legal & regulatory environment

The Renovation Insurance Brokers CPD training series – another strong example as to our commitment to our stakeholders, our expertise in the sector and our overriding passion to support large scale renovations across the country.

A look back at 2015

As we reach the end of 2015, we reflect on just some of the many things that have made our year here at Renovation Insurance Brokers.

We have spared you a RIB family photo with the office dog and hibernating tortoise but just wanted to share a few of the highs that made 2015 a great year for us, as we hope it was for you too.

A big thank you

None of what we do, we’d be able to do without you – so give yourself a hearty round of applause for being so supportive, at times understanding, but always committed to doing the right thing for your clients. Your faith in us and ability to advise your clients accurately sets you apart. Together we are a winning partnership.

As always, it’s been a very busy 12 months. We are very proud of our achievements and are pleased to share just some of our highlights here.

– Broker portal. Our unique broker portal has been very well received in the broker market since its launch last year and we have been pleased to see it continue to grow in popularity this year, as a key part of the quotation process. The quick quote system allows our brokers to get an immediate premium indication for some very basic information – obtaining renovation insurance quotes for their clients more quickly than ever before.

Interested in using the quick quote system for yourself? Take a look at this article for more information on how our Broker Portal works and to request login details. Don’t forget, we also offer bespoke CPD training too.

– Product development. We launched a brand new fixed price product for the broker market this autumn – specifically developed to offer a more marketable solution to insuring renovations in the mid net worth (MNW) sector. For brokers operating in the mid net worth sector this new online only policy provides the same market leading cover, at a very low price and is expected to prove very attractive.

We can now also offer ‘all risks’ unoccupied building insurance for properties which will be undergoing works, but at some point in the future. These properties do not fit onto the Renovation product immediately because the time period between the need for the Buildings cover and the start of the project is too great (max 2 months). The introduction of our new ‘all risks’ cover has been developed to offer a solution to projects that sit in this growing area. Just another example of our understanding of the market and our drive to develop products and services that offer you the very best options.

– New team members. Our team continues to grow so that we can provide the service levels you need. Just like last year, this year we were pleased to welcome two new members to the Renovation Insurance Brokers team.

Chris Harris arrived with us in October, as an additional underwriter to support our growth; with responsibility for underwriting all products as well as further developing business relations with the wholesale market.

Naweed Darr joined us as a marketing intern this summer and is now our full time Marketing Executive, helping us to maintain our strong brand and to communicate with you in a way that makes sense.

– Increased communications. Keeping in touch with our stakeholders is hugely important to us. This year we’ve introduced two new LinkedIn groups – one for HNW Brokers and another for Architect’s working with high value renovations – to educate, to inform and to facilitate online networking within each of our key markets. This very website has been enhanced too – to offer a clear proposition to the three key groups we work with – Architects, Brokers and Renovators.

– Charitable work. We’re proud to have continued to show our support for Grief Encounter, Rise Africa UK and The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWXT). Each of these three charities makes real impact in each of their individual areas and we are pleased to be able to work with them on a regular basis and raise awareness of the good things they do. To find out more about the different charities that we support, please take a look at our Good Causes page.

– Utilising our renovation expertise. Once again, this year has seen us place insurance for an array of high value, unique renovations. We always see a real mix of projects across a large geographical area – but one thing is consistent within them all; all being in need of an expert approach to their challenging insurance requirements.

In just a very small illustration as to what we’ve been involved with this year – we’ve provided cover for projects in the South of France as well as a growing number of central London properties, particularly basement projects which require large scale excavations.

We were also delighted to be chosen as the insurer of a stunning stately home on a remote Scottish Island this year, one with a project budget of over £20,000,000. Our very latest activity, finishing the year on a real high, is our work to insure the renovations of a £50,000,000 dwelling in London.

In summary: 2015

When looking back on the year, it’s always hugely rewarding to see where our successes lie, but more importantly, what impact we have had for the clients we serve. We are very proud of the strong and long established relationships we hold and the value we add to each and every project we have the pleasure of being involved in. Thank you to all of you who have helped to make 2015 such a fantastic year here at Renovation Insurance Brokers – we look forward to the activity ahead in 2016.

From all of us here at Renovation Insurance Brokers, sending you our very best festive greetings and wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Increased underwriting capacity to support rising demand for specialist insurance cover.

We are pleased to announce the arrival of an additional underwriter to support our growth. Chris Harris has joined existing senior underwriter Matthew Dover in the team at Renovation Insurance Brokers.

Chris will be responsible for underwriting all products – using both manual and portal systems – and will also further develop and foster business relations with the wholesale market. Chris already brings strong underwriting skills to the team, built up during his four years as an underwriter at Renovation Plan.

Speaking of Chris’ appointment, Douglas Brown, Managing Partner of Renovation Insurance Brokers said: “A large scale renovation requires a very specific renovation policy and the market requirements continue to grow. With the addition of Chris to our experienced underwriting team, we are able to continue to work to the high standards we pride ourselves on and offer the very best and competitive insurance solutions for brokers and their client’s renovation project professionals.”

After an initial period at our offices in Cambridgeshire, Chris will be based at our office at Holland House in London to support our growing work in the city.

News of this new recruit comes on the back of another announcement from Renovation Insurance Brokers last month – the launch of a new online fixed price product for brokers operating in the mid net worth renovation market.

The future of broking – we’re ready!

Future of BrokingWe’re heading to the Broker Expo in Coventry this week, described as the premier event for insurance brokers looking for fresh ideas for nurturing existing business and for sourcing new market opportunities. As the market leader for renovation insurance, with strong relationships with brokers across the country, we’re looking forward to being part of it!

One of the programme elements has particularly caught our eye – a digital think tank that will explore the key issues surrounding the Future of Broking as it develops digitally. The insurance sector is advancing and developing at a fast pace and we are really proud to be part of the mix.

We are told the future of broking is digital – something that we saw coming some time ago, developing new products to meet these expectations and to support business growth. We tell you more here.

So, is technology increasing the workload for brokers?

The very nature of technology is that it is designed to make things quicker, easier and more convenient. That’s very much the approach we’ve taken with the development of our bespoke broker portal – providing the ability to connect into our renovation insurance products at the click of a button.

With resources stretched and time at a premium, our broker web portal has been developed to help our broker partners obtain a quote quickly. This ‘Quick Quote’ system offers an indication of the likely premium from just six pieces of basic information. Reducing the time that it takes for brokers to get quotations and to bind business is important to us all.

Are brokers losing their personal touch in an increasingly digitised world?

Just because technological advancements now support a broker’s work, digital does not mean depersonalisation. At the heart of a broker’s work is their relationship with their client – technology does not remove that or make it any less important. In fact, digital can actually help that relationship.

In any customer situation, we want to be served well. In the renovation insurance sector specifically, our clients want high quality products, expert knowledge and a quick turnaround. Our online broker portal is a key sales aid in that process – our partners can set client expectations early and let customers become more attuned to the costs of this class of business before having to buy a policy. A clear and consistent approach that clients will be happy with – and a great customer experience all round!

In our sector, it’s not just the future that’s digital – but the present too. We are delighted to be working with a growing number of broker partners to utilise our online offerings and are excited about the impact that digital is already making in the renovation insurance area specifically.

Want to know more?

If you place renovation insurance and are not yet part of our broker network, please get in touch to find out more about working with us and accessing our online portal. Once in the portal you’ll have access to the Quick Quote facility, our new MNW £950 product and a full quote and bind system for both our HNW and MNW products that produces policy documentation.

Broker Expo takes place at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena on 12th November 2015, presented by Insurance Age magazine. The 2014 event attracted over 800 representatives from broking firms in the UK. We’ll be live tweeting using the hashtag #brokerexpo if you want to join us on the day – just follow us on Twitter here.

Extending our product range for the broker only Mid Net Worth sector


We are proud to announce the launch of a brand new fixed price product for the broker market. The new product has been specifically developed to offer a more marketable solution to insuring renovations in the mid net worth (MNW) sector.

Called Single Premium MNW, this online only offering is available to brokers from Renovation Insurance’s unique online portal. For brokers operating in the mid net worth sector this new policy provides the same market leading cover, at a very low price and is expected to prove very attractive.

The Single Premium MNW policy covers existing structures up to £450,000 and works up to £250,000, property owner’s liability to £2,000,000 and non-negligent liability (Party Wall cover) to £250,000. The cover is for a maximum of 12 months and all this at a single premium of £950 including IPT.

Renovation Insurance’s unique broker portal has been very well received in the broker market since its launch in June 2015 and Single Premium MNW extends that online offering and brings quote turnaround times down further. The portal enables broker partners to obtain an immediate premium indication for some very basic information. This gives brokers an edge over their competition who may have to wait days for a quote. The client is engaged early and broker partners appear more efficient and responsive.

Douglas Brown, Managing Partner of Renovation Insurance Brokers said: “Over the last five years we have seen the renovation insurance market grow significantly. We worked very closely with our broker partners to come up with the market leading renovation policy for the HNW sector, but have known for some time that we serviced the MNW sector less well.”

He continues: “As innovators in this market, we have worked hard to develop this unique product to provide an exciting new insurance offer that is easy for brokers to recommend both in terms of cover and price. It still won’t be the rock bottom priced product out there but for the genuine MNW customer there is no better value to be had in the market.”

Brokers who are interested in using the Renovation Insurance broker portal need to have a Terms of Business Agreement with Renovation Insurance Brokers and the relevant login details. Underwriting criteria for the Single Premium MNW policy requires the building to be of a standard construction, not listed, to not involve basement works and have a clean claims history. Other terms and conditions apply.

If you are a broker that operates in the mid net worth renovation market, we’d love to tell you more.  To obtain further product details or to arrange a demo, just call 08442 641200 or email us here.