On 2nd September 2015, Mark and Lorraine Fullbrook had their offer accepted on a 600 year old, Grade 2 listed, historic property, set in 13 acres. It was a house Mark had known since his childhood days as a newspaper delivery boy so, when it came on the market, they didn’t hesitate; this was their dream home.
The house is thatched and the estate has a river running through it. At one point the water does come within 15 feet of the front door but, since it is also 12 feet below the property, it poses little danger. And, just to be on the safe side, there are Venice-style flood gates, pumps and non-return valves on all the loos.
A belt and braces approach to flood risk, along with a clean history and excellent property management, meant that the Fullbrooks were confident that insuring their new home would be straightforward. However, when they called the existing insurer, who had insured the property for the previous 15, claim-free, years, they were turned down. ‘They refused us immediately,’ Lorraine says. ‘They just said that that they were no longer taking on properties of this type.’
70 to 80 insurance companies later and the Fullbrooks were growing tired of being told that their longed-for home was uninsurable. ‘We had been to specialists in historic buildings and the estate lawyers had been trying too, but it was the same story everywhere,’ Lorraine explains. ‘Most refused on the basis of the postcode alone – if you type it in, it comes up as high flood risk. If we hadn’t already been invested in the village then we would have walked.’
It was then that a friend recommended Amanda Harman, Head of Estates Practice at Aon Private Clients. ‘The Fullbrooks came to me in early November,’ says Amanda. ‘Thatch and water immediately set two big alarm bells ringing, but I was determined to do what I could.’
The first thing she did was to visit the property. ‘Amanda sat with the estate manager and went through every one of the reasons that we had been refused previously and gathered all the facts to counter them,’ explains Lorraine. ‘She knew about everything from the flood prevention methods to the low heat lighting and spark arrestors.’
‘I just collated everything I knew and had found out and presented the evidence,’ Amanda continues. ‘As well as the standard flood and thatch questionnaires, I sent photographs of all the safety and prevention measures that had already been taken, plus a list of more that the Fullbrooks were willing to put in place. Having a good breadth of insurance experience, I know what concerns insurers and was at pains to make sure I addressed these effectively.’
Her thoroughness paid off and she was able to find an insurer who agreed to insure the property, albeit with a £100,000 flood excess for the first year. Contracts were exchanged on 18th November.
As an experienced broker, Amanda was already familiar with the potential issues insurers would have but, by making time to visit the property and talk to the estate manager, she was able to provide visible evidence of insurability.
‘If it wasn’t for Amanda,’ Lorraine says, ‘the estate would have been left with a £2.5m property that it couldn’t sell and we wouldn’t have been able to buy the home we had wanted for so long.’
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This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 12.01.16.