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Discuss Should I claim on my insurance for unavoidable damage on a job? in the Insurance for Plumbers area at UKPlumbersForums.co.uk.

  1. Jennie

    Jennie GSR

    Hi all,
    This one's a bit complicated.
    I was asked to change some basin taps, on a countersunk basin on a cheap laminated chipboard vanity unit. The taps were rusted solid to the underside of the basin (following a one-time leak), (and cartridges scaled solid too, so no chance to repair the tap.) A 12-year-old bathroom/tap installation. So the customers gave me permission to remove the basin, so I could do the work - which I did.
    Unfortunately, some damage occurred to the laminate around the edge of the basin. It was very brittle, and some chipped off around the basin as I removed it. I later replaced the basin and siliconed as best I could, but admittedly it doesn't look great.
    They are insisting it is an 'insurance job', and I've set the wheels rolling for a claim. However, with an insurance excess of £500, and a future increase in premiums, I'm not happy about this.
    I haven't been paid for my work, and offered them £160 towards repairs in goodwill (though not as an admission of negligence) - which they said was a drop in the ocean of what was needed.
    Some weeks later, the insurance company is looking into my claim. It seems they will be looking to repair, rather than replace, the unit (a large vanity unit that also encompasses the toilet). I'm getting quotes from local carpenters for the repair.
    I'd be interested to know your thoughts/experiences on who is liable to pay for the repairs?
    I'm not happy of taking the full burden - either through my insurance, or privately paying for it. After all, removing the basin was essential, and I had their permission to do so. Although admittedly I hadn't warned them of the potential of damage.
    My customers aren't open to negotiation, and are threatening legal action if they don't get an insurance payout. If this was to go to a small claims court, how would it play out?
    Thanks everyone for all your advice,
    Jennie
     
  2. Last Plumber

    Last Plumber Plumber GSR

    I wouldn't have accepted liability !

    It's an old unit and in a state of disrepair by the sounds of it.

    It is the owners responsibility to maintain their own equipment.

    The only thing is I personally would have said something at the start.

    As in, warned them it may break or get damaged if I disassemble it.

    Put the decision and risk onto them.

    If I ever come across taps that are going to be a swine to replace, I always warn the customer that there's a chance of breaking the basin and I won't be paying for it!

    Sorry to be blunt !
     
    • Like Like x 4
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
  3. oz-plumber

    oz-plumber Plumber

    Hi Jennie,

    If they have gone through their insurance - contact your insurance

    If they have gone through your insurance - contact your insurance.

    If thing get nasty between you and the customer, tell them to call the insurance company.
    If it gets to this stage, I would just pay me excess and be rid of the situation.

    It sounds harsh, but I have been where you are 1/2 a dozen times and the stress it causes you over being taken for a ride by people who know the system, is not worth the effort.

    If they don't accept waht you are offering them, pay the insirance excess, brood over it for months, and be rid of the situation
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Last Plumber

    Last Plumber Plumber GSR

    I do agree with oz though, now it's happened, best to get shut of it.

    There's nothing worse than the stress and anxiety caused by that.

    I hope it works out ok !
     
  5. joni os

    joni os Plumber

    Don't get involved with quotes for repair. These people will not be satisfied whatever you do. Leave it all to insurance company. Their insurance talking to your insurance is the best situation.
    Once they realise it's repair not a replacement your £160 offer may seem attractive. Don't accept responsibility. State," damage was an unavoidable consequence of the works they instructed you to do".
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Masood

    Masood Guest

    Have to agree with what's been said. I learned the hard way to ALWAYS inform the customer of the potential for breakage when dealing with rusted or scaled-on taps, old sanitary ware, tiles etc. Write out a little disclaimer and keep a few copies on your van. Get the customer to sign it before starting work.

    These customers seem to be playing the system and are probably hoping for a whole new bathroom out of it because a replacement unit or repair will look out of place compared to the originals. I think you've no option but to take it on the chin this time...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Best

    Best Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    You said it yourself - "cheap laminated chipboard vanity unit".
    No way should the top of that unit be any great expense. Okay, it does need to match the rest of unit and needs a joiners labour charge extra at most. I would have thought £200 would cover it all.
    Sounds like the customer is being nasty, unless you have said or done something to antagonise them.
    Unfortunately small claims court would find you were at least partly responsible for the cost, given that you didn't get a disclaimer.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. SimonG

    SimonG Trusted Plumber

    Was the chipboard sealed where the basin had been fitted?
     
  9. Jennie

    Jennie GSR

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks so much for your comments.

    I've certainly learned a lot from this experience - e.g., I routinely warn of damage to porcelain every time I remove a basin, cistern, etc.

    Apparently things like this happen to most tradespeople in their early days. I learned the plumbing bit at college, but dealing with customers is a massive thing in itself. This particular customer has been very rude and aggressive.

    Jennie
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. ShaunCorbs

    ShaunCorbs S. Mod Trusted Plumber GSR Top Contributor!!

    You normally get a second sense when dealing with pita customers and normally recognise little things that then you add stupid tax for
     
  11. Last Plumber

    Last Plumber Plumber GSR

    It's a big learning curve and we've all been there !

    There's no need to be rude and aggressive toward you though.

    A lot of the time, once you've cooled down from your panic and given it some thought, there's normally a good reason why things go wrong !
    In your case it sounds like it's a case of working with poor quality materials ( the chipboard unit), that are in poor condition, That's not your fault.
    If the taps are stuck in the basin, that's not your fault either.

    If the laminate has come away from the chip board it's most likely because of water ingress over the years effecting the glue or the laminate becoming brittle or both.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  12. Last Plumber

    Last Plumber Plumber GSR

    It's a big learning curve and we've all been there !

    There's no need to be rude and aggressive toward you though.

    A lot of the time, once you've cooled down from your panic and given it some thought, there's normally a good reason why things go wrong !
    In your case it sounds like it's a case of working with poor quality materials ( the chipboard unit), that are in poor condition, That's not your fault.
    If the taps are stuck in the basin, that's not your fault either.

    If the laminate has come away from the chip board it's most likely because of water ingress over the years effecting the glue or the laminate becoming brittle or both.
     
  13. Gasmk1

    Gasmk1 GSR

    let it get sorted then never go back also warn any of your collegues about the custome rso no one else gets bitten
     
  14. SlimD

    SlimD GSR

    Interesting reading. I got qualified last year and started self employed I need september so it's handy reading this. While I've not had anything like this yet it's good to get tips on how to warn people and offload risk onto customers.
    Thank you all for the info and Jennie I hope you get it sorted.
     
  15. SlimD

    SlimD GSR

    Interesting reading. I got qualified last year and started self employed in september so it's handy reading this. While I've not had anything like this yet it's good to get tips on how to warn people and offload risk onto customers.
    Thank you all for the info and Jennie I hope you get it sorted.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
  16. Best

    Best Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Insist on giving people an estimate or quote, even if they tell you to go ahead with job without one. That way you can have a disclaimer on your quote saying, " Care will be taken to avoid damage, but No responsibility can be taken for existing worktop and basin and pipework etc, should they already be faulty or become damaged when removed"
    More friendly, rather than verbally and it will be proof of informing customer of risk.
    The customer could lie later to insurance or court and say you never told them if you haven't done the paperwork and kept copies. Also take photos, before, during and after job completed.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Jennie

    Jennie GSR

    Hi all, Thought you might like to know the outcome. I'm a bit sore about it. The insurance company is replacing the vanity unit/WC/basin, rather than repairing the cracks to the laminate. The payout will be £2,000. Repairs could have just involved a carpenter fitting a new top panel (worktop) and front panel under the basin. I've been held 100 percent responsible, despite having the customer's permission to remove the basin from 12-yr-old water-swollen cheap laminated chipboard, on work that was essential (the customer wanted working taps that didn't leak from the rusted tap connections). My downfall was not warning them of potential damage. I have a £500 excess, plus higher premiums come renewal time. Oh it sucks. :-(
     
  18. Matchless.plumb

    Matchless.plumb Trusted Plumber Top Contributor!!

    Oh that hurts.

    I feel sorry for you, big time.
    Unfortunately in my opinion the little claim courts are the cause of such a trouble. It is very easy and simple to open a case for just £25. In other countries it will cost fortunes to open a case as well as months to get started. People are taking an advantage of the system especially if they know they can get things fir free.
    Basically everything you do needs to have a back up for yourself otherwise you will end up having problems like this over and over again.

    As masood said, don't do it verbally (it won't help in the claim court) do it with written agreements. If they do not want to sign then you know what they are looking for.

    I think we should have also a chance to complain about rouge customers same as they have got a chance to leave bad reviews about you. We should have also a website with rouge customers so engineers would know who to avoid.
     
  19. SlimD

    SlimD GSR

    That really sucks! Some people seem to think it's ok to take others for a ride so long as they're getting a freeby. It's not on! Totally agree with Matchless that there should be a trade website for rogue customers.
     
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