Previous Customer Interns at Harris Balcombe

Harris Balcombe are absolutely delighted to have had Niall Holohan, aged 17, intern in our Timperley office (serving the Greater Manchester area) for a week in July.

We are especially proud of this, as Niall interned with us as he is one of our past customers: he and his family were the victims of a huge fire that destroyed his family’s home. Niall was the first to hear the fire alarm and alerted his family and neighbours to keep everyone safe. The fire service said that only a matter of minutes would have made it impossible to find a way out, meaning that Niall’s actions helped prevent a family tragedy through his clearheaded thinking and initiative.

After the blaze, Harris Balcombe stepped in to reassure and help the family with the insurance claim, to enable them to get the full compensation they deserved after the tragedy – with our project management, the property was fully renovated by our network of suppliers, the family was assisted with alternative accommodation in the meantime and also received full compensation for everything that they were entitled to, including their contents claim.

Niall was so impressed by the service, help and reassurance provided during this awful time, that it inspired him to do an internship with Harris Balcombe to see if a career in loss assessing would allow him to help others in the same way, during equally difficult times for others.

During his time with us, Niall got an introduction into the world of loss assessing by helping our team to research and prepare a content’s claim, working on additional expenses claims, going through CILA webinars about policy issues in the industry and partaking in discussions with the rest of the team – we hope he enjoyed his time here.

It was a pleasure to have Niall for the week, having his first-hand experience of a house fire and feedback on customer treatment was invaluable, as was his engagement and enthusiasm.


HB Appointed to Grade II Listed Mansion Fire

Fire damaged House

Crews were called to Kelsale Hall, a 19th Century manor house near Saxmundham, Suffolk, at 17:45 GMT on Wednesday.

It is thought the blaze started in a tumble dryer and spread through the house, destroying most of the building.

The property was occupied at the time but those inside managed to escape and there were no reports of any injuries, the fire service said.

Thirty-five response vehicles and 80 firefighters were called out to deal with the fire at its height.

Ian Bowell from Suffolk Fire and Rescue said: “Whilst I say it was a tumble dryer, I think we should allow the investigation to completely exhaust all other options.

“But early indications yes, it was a tumble dryer seen to be alight.

Firefighters used water from a nearby pond and a hydrant supply on the A12 to tackle the flames.

Updates to follow as the claim progresses….

How To Prevent Flood Damage

Regardless of their cause, floods generally hit suddenly and unexpectedly. That said, there are certain measures UK homeowners could take to help prevent flood damage to their home.

Find out if your home is at risk

The Land Registry’s Flood Risk Indicator service can provide you with a report on the risks of flooding from rivers and seas for specific properties in England and Wales.

If you find out that you are indeed in a flood prone area, here are several things that you’ll want to look out for:

  • make sure that your home’s furnace, boiler (and other equipment that is very expensive to replace) are all in elevated areas in your home to avoid them getting damaged.
  • The same can be done with refrigerators or freezers, which can be placed on plinths if you think they’d potentially be at risk.
  • Store irreplaceable items such as photographs, hard drives etc. in high places, just in case (rather than in your basement).
  • Furthermore, if your home is definitely in a risk zone, it can do no harm to be prepared and have some sand bags at the ready in your shed or basement, should worst come to the worst.
  • If you hear that a flood is due or the area that you live in is experiencing heavy rainfall , move your car to higher ground if possible.

The Environment Agency have also suggested that it’s wise to fit “non-return” valves to outdoor plumbing so as to counter any waste water flowing back into your property through sewage pipes, causing all sorts of damage and possible health hazards.

If you’re about to build a home in an area which is at risk of flooding, here is an extremely comprehensive guide to advise you on how you can build your home and what materials to use in order to minimise damage in the event of flooding.

Investigate potential hazards

To safeguard yourself against mechanical failures such as burst pipes, as well as the effects of extreme rainfall, make sure that your home is inspected annually by plumbing and roofing specialists.

Clean regularly

Regularly cleaning is a cheap and easy method of preventing flood damage. For instance, make sure that your gutters are always clear of leaves or general debris. If your gutters cannot effectively channel water to the ground, the water will build-up, potentially causing flooding and expensive structural damage.

Get flood protection

The National Flood Forum have a Property Protection Advisor. This can help you to calculate how much it might cost to permanently protect your home from the risks of flooding, with the use of French drains or other preventative measures.

It is advisable to take a lot of detailed photographs of your property – in the unfortunate event that you need to make a claim, these will be a tremendous help to you (particularly for electronics etc.). Make sure that you keep receipts for expensive items (such as e-receipts or even photos of receipts that you have emailed to yourself to avoid losing them).

Unfortunately, no matter how prepared you are, sometimes the unexpected can happen. Though prevention is always better than a cure, Harris Balcombe are experts when it comes to helping those affected by flood damage in the UK.

We will organise all emergency works, before arranging like-for-like accommodation for you and your family for the duration of any required restoration and cleaning. We will also co-ordinate your insurer and their loss adjusters to secure you the settlement you deserve.

If your home has suffered from flood damage, use our national 24/7 helpline for a free consultation on how we can help your claim. Call us on 0844 544 1699.

Disaster-Proof Your Home with This Insurance Checklist

We’ve put together this insurance checklist to help you identify any potential disasters your home could be vulnerable to, so you can take action to prevent them happening.


Fires can have a devastating impact and yet preventing them only requires a few simple measures. To minimise the chances of your home going up in flames, ensure you check the following:

  • You have a smoke alarm which works. Did you know you’re four times more likely to die in a fire if you don’t have a working smoke alarm? Smoke alarms are cheap and easy to install and local fire service can offer advice on the best approach to take.
  • Electrical appliances in your kitchen are kept away from water and curtains, so they can’t easily catch fire.
  • Old cooking appliances are in good condition.
  • Outlets or circuits aren’t overloaded by plugging too many appliances into adaptors for example. High powered appliances like washing machines need a single socket to themselves.
  • All appliances have a CE mark for safety standards.

Read our resource for more tips on fire safety and find out how Harris Balcombe can help you if you need to make a fire insurance claim.


According to, homes without security measures are five times more likely to be burgled than those who take simple steps to stay secure. Here are few checks you can go through to minimise your chances of being burgled:

  • Keys are stored out of sight and away from the letterbox, so a device can’t be used to fish them out.
  • An alarm is installed, if you live in an insecure area.
  • Valuable items are kept out of sight. Go outside and peer through your own window. How many valuable items can you see at a glance?
  • All the entrances are secure, if you live in a shared building.
  • The area immediately outside your home, like your porch for example, is well lit, so it doesn’t provide cover for burglars.
  • High value items like jewellery are kept in a safe.
  • Side gates are kept locked.
  • Fences are in good repair.

Find out how Harris Balcombe can help you, if you need to make a claim for theft.

Weather damage

Keeping your home well maintained will make it less susceptible to damage from harsh weather conditions caused by storms, snow and strong winds for example. These simple checks will reduce your home’s vulnerability to damage:

  • Central heating is in good condition to prevent pipes freezing and bursting, leading to damage from water escaping.
  • Flood defences are in place if you live in an area which is at risk.
  • Bricks are pointed when necessary.
  • Broken or loose roof tiles are fixed.
  • Plumbing in good condition
  • Guttering is clear.

Find out how we can help if you need to make a claim for flooding or storm damage.

Accidental damage

Accidental damage, such as ruined carpets or broken valuables is one of the most common reasons for making a home insurance claim. Such damage is often caused by children and pets.

You won’t be covered for damage caused by pets so make sure they are house trained.

Keep valuable objects out of reach from children, or where they can’t easily be toppled over.


Subsidence happens when the foundations of your house shift with the land beneath it. This can be caused by the soil drying out, or becoming too moist, to the extent the ground becomes unstable. Houses built near caves, or mines, or on clay soil, are more vulnerable to subsidence.

To work out if you may have subsidence, try the following:

  • Monitor large cracks in your wall, which may be a sign of subsidence. Not all cracks mean you have subsidence though. Check if they’re larger than 50 pence at one end, or if they’re expanding.
  • Check for tears in wall paper which aren’t caused by damp.
  • Cut down large trees which may destabilise the foundations of your property.

Avoiding Bonfire Night & Halloween Insurance Nightmares

Luckily, for most of us, it will all be in the name of Halloween fun but for others it’s also the perfect opportunity to commit a crime. So here are some tips to avoid any problems or “Halloween insurance nightmares”.

Halloween costumes make it easier to disguise people’s identities and the darker days being ushered in by the clocks going back also makes it easier to go unnoticed. What’s more, people may have their guard down as they open their doors to trick-or-treaters. This may explain why in recent years several parts of the UK have reported a rise in crime during Halloween.

Crime also rises on Bonfire Night because the noise and crowds at the fireworks can create a distraction that makes it easier to commit crimes. Some of the crimes most commonly reported during Halloween and Bonfire Night include vandalism, fires, car crimes and the theft of electronic goods like laptops and phones. Accidents caused by fires and busy streets are also more prone.

Lighting a safe bonfire

Taking a few precautions can help you and your family stay safe during the festivities. If unfortunately something does go wrong, making sure you’ve taken a few sensible measures beforehand may also make it easier if you have to file an insurance claim. Although insurance is likely to cover you if your house is damaged by a stray firework, you’ll still need to show you took reasonable measures to prevent an accident.

Here are a few precautions you can take before starting your bonfire:

  • Make sure your fireworks have the BS 7114 mark to show they meet certain safety standards
  • Check the weather beforehand, since damp weather may cause smoke to linger and windy conditions may cause it to travel to areas where it may be obstructive, like roads
  • Never use accelerants like aerosols, spirits or petrol, which can be explosive
  • Don’t burn rubbish because it can cause pollution
  • Have a bucket of water or hose pipe handy in case the fire gets out of control
  • Don’t drink alcohol while lighting your fire and stand an arm’s length away to light it
  • Don’t light your fire too close to any properties
  • Stand well back during the fire
  • Only light dry material
  • Supervise children at all times
  • Keep pets indoors

You can find more details about procedures you need to follow in the duty-of-care section of your insurance policy.

Tips for staying safe at Halloween

Going trick-or-treating can be lots of fun but busy streets, excited children and jack-o-lanterns can be a dangerous mix if you don’t take a few simple steps to stay safe.

Leaving doors and windows unlocked, or failing to maintain your smoke alarms, could affect your insurance claim too. Being cautious will help you stay safe and make it easier if you need to make an insurance claim because it will help you demonstrate you took measures to prevent an accident.

Here are some simple safety measures you can follow:

  • Leave lights on to give the impression someone is in the house. Light timers can be useful for this
  • Check windows are looked when you’re out
  • If you’re hosting a party, make sure you lock your front door behind you whenever you let someone in
  • Lock your shed
  • Check who you are opening your front door to and if you don’t feel safe don’t respond
  • Don’t place jack-o-lanterns where they can easily cause fires
  • Drive extra carefully to avoid accidents, particularly in residential areas where children may unexpectedly run into the road
  • Make sure your children understand how to stay safe on the streets
  • Check your child’s costume is made from flame resistant materials like nylon and polyester, rather than natural fibres like cotton
  • Incorporate reflective materials into your child’s costume if you can

If you need help with a fire insurance claim simply call our 24/7 National Helpline on
0844 544 1699 or request a call back by dialling 0330 022 9179.

Flood victims: ten months on, they’re still battling for insurance payouts

Hundreds of homeowners across the north of England and Scotland are still in rented accommodation or living in homes with stripped walls and no running water while they try to get compensation.

Read more in the telegraph here –