Will Self insurance battle: why won't they pay?

Will SelfIan West/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The world was alerted when Will Self's house suffered sudden damage last month. Self, his wife (the writer Deborah Orr) and their children had to spend a few days away from their home in Stockwell after the parapet in front of the roof collapsed, damaging the doorsteps and leaving the home vulnerable to burglars.

But this was just the start of their problems.

Collapse

Orr posted to Twitter shortly after the collapse, saying 'Our house, and the four neighbouring houses, are OVER. But no one is hurt and we're staying with @blackdogyellow.

Her update was the equally tongue-in-cheek and over-dramatised: ''No one knows what caused it yet, but it's emergency services central. Helicopters, the lot.'' The emergency services evacuated houses in the immediate area, and one elderly woman was helped to safety.

However, once the dust settled, and they all fought the 'dangerous structures' order so that they could move back in, it emerged that there was an issue with Self's insurer.

Insurer problems

Again it was Twitter where Orr went to vent. She was angry that the couple's insurer didn't pay out, while the owner of an adjoining property, Solicitor General Edward Garnier, was paid. She said: "We didn't get a payout - wear and tear. Edward Garnier MP got his - accidental damage. Same insurer. Axa. Weird."

She added in her Guardian column: "Between us, we have paid 95 years' of premiums to protect against just such an unlikely occurrence as this one. But they have hired a forensic structural engineer, and evidence of blame against any or all of us is being diligently sought. It is clear from the excellent condition of all our homes that we cosset them. None of us noticed damp or cracks presaging this event because there were none to see."

Her insurer, AXA said in a statement: "Following a comprehensive investigation, evidence shows that the damage to Ms Orr's property resulted from general wear and tear and gradual deterioration, which is not covered under any standard buildings policy."

We can only await the next Twitter update on what the Self/Orr family intends to do next.
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