Tracy and Allan Fraser are celebrating a £16,000 insurance payout after a blaze at their home left them without heating or hot water for four months.
At the start of September, fire wrecked the utility room and damaged an en suite bathroom at the couple’s bungalow in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.
School dinner lady Tracy, 51, said she was lucky to spot the flames as she left the house for her work, or things could have been far worse.
“I had gone through to the back of the house, and when I passed the utility room I thought I saw a glow coming from under the door,” she said. “I assumed I had left the light on but when I looked I was shocked to see fire going up the walls.
“I got out of the place as quickly as I could and called the fire brigade.”
It turned out an electrical fault with her washing machine had started the blaze, which had begun to spread to the roof before being extinguished.
“The machine had only been on for about 20 minutes,” she said. “If I hadn’t still been at home the whole house would have burned down.
“I was also thankful that my daughter Rachael was at work that morning as she is a late sleeper.”
As well as causing smoke damage, the fire had buckled the window frames in the utility room, disabled the heating system and caused significant water damage.
The couple swiftly informed their insurers Churchill, but a series of delays in getting repairs under way ensued after visits from independent assessors.
Tracy said she had obtained a quote for about £16,000 from a local contractor, but the first insurance assessor who came out reckoned it would only cost about £3,000 to fix the damage.
“The whole thing kept dragging on, which was very frustrating because we had no hot water or heating and the weather had turned very cold.
“We were freezing and I told the insurers that we would have to move out.
“They did offer to put us up in a hotel but there was myself, my husband and my daughter involved and we needed a place with two rooms and a place to cook. A hotel room just wasn’t practical so we stayed put.”
Tracy said that after more visits from assessors they then received further offers ranging from £3,000 to £7,000.
“We kept telling them that this was nowhere near enough to do all the repairs and it was very uncomfortable living in a cold and fire-damaged house in the winter.
“Also, mould and damp from the water damage was spreading.
“The stress of it all was starting to make my husband ill. We had paid home insurance for 28 years and had never before made a claim.”
In frustration, the Frasers turned to Raw Deal for help and we asked Churchill to carry out an investigation.
At first the company came back with a revised offer of £12,000 but the couple insisted this still would not cover the costs.
Churchill then increased the amount to more than £16,000, and the result is that the Frasers are now looking forward to finally getting the work started.
“Allan and I can’t thank Raw Deal enough for bringing this to a conclusion,” Tracy said.
A spokesperson for Churchill home insurance said: “We are sorry to hear about Mr Fraser’s disappointment with the progress of his claim and sincerely apologise for the delays he has faced.”