Is there a valuer in the house?

Last week we valued the contents of a house in Beckenham, Kent. Not an unusual task for professional valuers, but what I found appalling was the story that preceded our appointment.

Our client resides in America, but discovered during a visit home that his parents had not insured their house or contents for the past couple of years.

So he telephoned a broker in Maidstone and explained that his parents needed both buildings and contents cover for a four-bedroom, three-reception room house. Having settled on rebuilding cost of £140,000 he was advised that £40,000 should be adequate for the contents.

Our client queried this, saying that there were antiques in the house, and that his parents had accumulated a lot of furniture and furnishings over the years. Could the insurance company help him to make sure £40,000 was adequate? Could it, in fact, tell him of a valuation service?

The response was that it didn't know of one, but it "could send a form for him to insert the values".

Given that our client not only lives overseas where prices are different, but also had indicated he needed help in this respect, he found this a most unhelpful suggestion.

After pointing this out he was told he could "ask an antiques dealer to come round"- advice he ignored on grounds of security and concern that his parents might be pressured into parting with something. Instead, he phoned a well known insurance company which was delighted to assist, and in turn receive his premium of £3,250.

My point is that surely all brokers should be able to put their clients in touch with relevant services. I'm sure they can all recommend a building surveyor, so why not a contents valuer?

Paul Quastel FNAVA
Quastel Associates