I work for both insurers and private clients, the person who instructs me, pays me. It is not uncommon on large cases for both the insurer and the insured to be represented seperately. There is no way the insurer is going to pay for the insured's independant advice.
Our insurers (Bishop Skinner) had a claim from us a few years ago ... we suffered a side strike during a thunderstorm - it took out a number of the electronics and systems.
These were all replaced with NEW up to date kit - but these were just like for like - ie no functionality improvements - with the exception of the VHF that was replaced with a basic DSC model (was non-dsc before - but no longer available).
There was never any question of Betterment from them - we couldn't engineer a strike - so it's not as though we were trying anything underhand to upgrade our boat!
firstly sorry to hear of this mishap - I suggest you have 2 options- you either pursue a claim against your own insurance (best first approach ) or you pursue a claim against the other party you believe (understandably) are responsible for the damage .
re the claim against your own insurance - notify them (as you have done) and if they respond saying (and explaining ) that your claim is not covered by your policy - read the policy and what they (your insurer) say and form your own view as to whether their interpretation/application of the policy to the claim is fair and reasonable - read the words in the policy NOT what you or anyone else would like them to say - if you are not satisfied that the insurer has correctly applied the policy wording to the incident - next point of referral should be the Financial Ombudsman service - see the web - whilst the FOS can (who isn't) be slow - they are normally thorough and fair.
re the 2nd option - if your insurer - at this stage - rejects your claim - if it were me I would confirm in writing to them that I was reviewing their decision and request their written confirmation that they had no objection to you - pending review of their decision - pursuing the third party and that any action you taken would not be regarded as prejudicial to your claim against your own insurer
I would have (no doubt you have already) written recorded delivery to the engineers holding them responsible and push them (hard) for acknowledgement of the claim receipt and details of their liability insurers - I would then push those insurers hard for a timescale for their decision on liability - bluntly insurers have deeper pockets than the engineers and IF they are liable - the sooner the issue of the engineers having a valid claim under their liability insurances is resolved the better - you want that claim lodged by them against their insurers- the bigger worry is that their insurance is either not in force or breached by some action on their part .
re settlement of claim - your own claim against your own insurer - your policy will stipulate what is or is not payable and basis of payment - sorry but marine insurance is not my area of expertise but the policy wording will be king ,
re a claim against the TP - the general principal is that you can only recover what you have lost - if you "lose" a 15year old engine then your claim should be for an equivalent - no better or worse - engine - be that repair of the damaged engine or if economic it's replacement with equivalent - the problem is when an equivalent is not available and there is case law (none marine) to argue that if an equivalent secondhand item is not - in practise - available - then the only practical solution might be a new replacement and the TP can end up paying for it - I qualify that by saying I am not expert in marine law which may be different!
for all those reasons the suggestion of - if insured or if you are prepared to fund it !!- taking advice from a marine lawyer to me is sound if - and in my view only if - the claim against your own insurer is rejected ,
a lawyer will clearly (should clearly) be able to advise on merits of your claim against any of the parties and will know if marine law protects TP or limits their liability and relevance of it - good luck
Wow thanks Paul, very detailed, just what i was looking for
Just to add a bit to Paul's excellent advice. If you are going to pursue the agent directly (assuming your insurance does not cover you), you need to collect your evidence to support your claim. So record all exchanges, take photographs and get as much support for your case as possible, for example a detailed report from your insurer.
The third party (or their insurer) will do their best to deny liability, but a well documented case will reduce their power. You may well find that they will try to negotiate with you, or you might have the opportunity to use an arbitrator to resolve differences of opinion. Don't fire off threatening solicitors letters. Their effect is over estimated, and is more likely to antagonise than prompt positive action. You need to show you are reasonable, and just want to settle.
If you do get to the point where you think legal action is the only way, then read the advice on the Govt website on making claims through the small claims track. Even if your claim is too big to use that, the process for preparing a claim, and actions you should take along the way are basically the same for all cases.
This may sound tedious, but you need to recognise that insurers in particular do this sort of thing for a living, so you need to deal with them in the same way. Of course it is easier if you do get legal support but it helps if you understand the process as well.
Good luck - and remember to keep your cool, even when you meet intransigence!
Just to add to Paul and Tranona's advice
1. As Paul said, the policy wording is king. You must read your ins policy. BUT, marine ins policies invariably contain langauge saying you are NOT covered if your loss is due to negligence of a professional boat repair firm. Normally, you are covere if you yourself srew up a repair and make your boat sink, but not if a professional firm does it. If that's what your policy says, and I bet it does, don't waste your time any more pursuing your insurers and contacting the Ombudsman, becuase your insurers don't owe you a penny. PM Seahope (he is mainly on mobo forum) who had similar incident in last few months, and eventually got his boat fixed
2. If no insurance cover, your only way to get compensation is to pursue the boat fixer firm. Whether you win or not will depend on evidence, so get evidence. I have no idea of the detials but if you have an invoice from fixers in effect saying "we changed the bellows" AND you have a surveyor report saying "the bellows failed and that's why the boat sank" you have a sure fire case. In which case (a) demand reimbursement from boat fixer firm (b) if they refuse get a solicitor to send a letter before action (c) file a claim with the court. You will win, if you have evidence. It's not about being right: it's about having evidence to convince the judge that you're right. Get the evidence, urgently. Photos, surveyor report, etc
BTW I'm mostly agreeing with Paul and Tranona above, except I wouldn't bother with arbitrators as Tranona says. I'd go straight to court if I have the evidence, and wouldn't care in the slightest if that antagonises.
Fairly soon in the whole process you'll find your self arguing with the boat fixer's insurers, not the boat fixer. They do this for a living, but don't for one moment think that means they're any good at it. The claim will likely be handled by a numpty claim handler who might be good at sending you letters say "no we wont pay that" but that's as far as their skills reach. Or you might get a smarter one who sees your evidence is good and agrees liability. Anyone smart (including many on this forum) will generally run rings round these folks if this fight goes beyond the claims handlers. Ask Seahope.
Last edited by jfm; 29-09-11 at 16:14.
Last edited by Seahope; 29-09-11 at 23:33.
Did you contact the boat-builders to inform them of the treatment you received from a main agent.
regards David - DSW Marine Engineering
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