Q. I live in a Victorian semi. My neighbour doesn’t take much care of her house: there is a leaking pipe at the back that she refuses to get fixed, and her house may be damp as it is never aired. Is there “neighbour insurance” I can take out to ensure that if her house should adversely affect mine, I won’t be financially liable?
A. It isn’t possible to insure somebody else’s house, or somebody else’s liability to third parties. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. First, check that your own insurance is up to scratch; if your property is damaged by water entry, for example, then you could make a claim on your insurance even if the source of that water is potentially someone else’s responsibility. Your insurer may then choose to make a separate claim — called subrogating a claim — against your neighbour, to reclaim costs for which the neighbour can be proven to be negligent. Second, while it’s always best to try to settle any problem with a neighbour openly and amicably, I would recommend that you keep a record, including dated emails, letters and so on, so that you have a paper trail to prove your neighbour has been made aware of this issue. As a last resort, take legal advice to see whether your neighbour can be pressed into maintaining her property. Check your home insurance policy before you start racking up costs with a lawyer. Many policies will provide an element of legal expenses cover or a legal helpline.
Andrew Boldt, Managing Director at Insurance Tailors