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Sunday, June 26, 2022

We’re being penalised by insurers for the flat roof of our block | Money

We recently sold our semi-detached house and moved to a second-floor flat in a seven-storey block. We had both contents and buildings insurance for the house with Axa.

As we no longer need buildings cover we tried to move our contents cover with us, but were told Axa wouldn’t insure properties with a flat roof. That response has been almost universal. The cover we eventually found is more expensive than the combined contents and buildings insurance previously.

Some neighbours in our block don’t have contents cover. This must be a common problem. How do people negotiate it?

TS, Eastbourne, East Sussex

Given how many apartment blocks have flat roofs, this is a startling experience. Insurers are generally wary of houses with roofs with a pitch of less than 10% because of the increased risk of storm damage and intruder access, and if more than a quarter of the roof area is flat, you’re looking at specialist, pricier policies. But you are not in a house.

I assumed that Axa would relent when I pointed out there are five storeys between you and the problematic roof, but no.

“Axa UK, along with many other insurers, does not provide home insurance when more than 50% of a property’s roof is flat,” it says. “This is because there is a higher risk of weather damage to the building and contents.”

You say you searched out quotes on price comparison sites. These tend to use a standard template for applications which may not differentiate between a flat and a house when it comes to the roof type. This means you’re likely to be refused cover, or charged significantly more.

Brokers are better placed to help find appropriate policies. I contacted the UK’s largest, Swinton, and was assured that it’s straightforward to insure contents in flat-roofed blocks. The company has since found you cover at half the cost of your previous quote.

Cotswold Outdoor puts its best foot forward

I hope you can help recognise outstanding customer service. I bought a pair of walking boots from Cotswold Outdoor in July 2019. Recently, they started leaking between the sole and the leather uppers. They were well out of guarantee, but I considered that, at a cost of more than £200, they should last longer. Customer service sent the boots to the German manufacturer who agreed there was a fault.

Cotswold offered me a full refund via a voucher. As I no longer live near a store, I asked if it could refund me the cash and it agreed.

From my first email, to the money landing in my bank account, the whole thing took less than four weeks, and I was emailed regularly about progress. Truly fantastic.

MS, London

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