What you should do when your installer has ceased to trade
Posted by Faisal Hussain (HIES Scheme) on 26 June 2018 at 9:10 am
HIES is a consumer protection organisation and operates a Consumer Code for the renewable sector which is approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).
Whilst systems are usually well installed, we appreciate that some consumers who purchased a renewable system, such as Solar PV in the last few years may have experienced a problem with their installation. This article is written to help you understand what advice and support you have available in case your renewable installation is not working correctly and your installer has ceased to trade.
In the first instance it’s important to identify the type of installation. If you have a renewable system such as Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Air Source Heat Pumps installed (click here to see the full list of products) and are claiming government subsidies such as the Feed-in Tariff (FITs) or domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (DRHI) then you may have protection in place to cover you in the event your installer is no longer in business, known as an Insurance Backed Guarantee (IBG).
What is an IBG?
An IBG is an insurance policy that provides protection in the event your installer has ceased to trade and is unable to honour the terms of their written guarantee. You can make a claim by contacting the insurance provider and following their claims procedure. The IBG should protect you for the term of your guarantee but can vary in length (generally from a minimum 2 years up to a maximum of up to 10 years).
Not all IBGs are the same. Insurance providers have their own specific policy terms and conditions and coverage, which you should read to fully understand the level of protection you have.
How does an IBG work?
An IBG provides you with additional peace of mind that in the unlikely event your installer ceases to trade and cannot honour their written guarantee, you can make a claim by contacting the insurance provider. Your insurance provider will normally require evidence of your contract, your written guarantee, any proof of payments made to the installer and will usually require you to complete a claim form.
Once you have submitted your claim form along with any evidence required to support this, the insurance provider will assess your claim to ascertain it falls within the policy terms and conditions. If so, the insurance provider will usually look to rectify the issue, often using one of its own authorised contractors. You may be required to pay a policy excess.
How do I check I have an IBG in place?
If you have an IBG in place you should have received documentation from either the insurance provider or as part of the handover pack when your system was initially installed.
When your installation was completed you should also have received a Microgeneration Certification scheme (MCS) certificate, if you are claiming FITs or DRHI. This certificate, depending on the year it was issued, should have the details of the insurance provider in the top right-hand corner along with the insurance policy number. This details that the installer has registered your installation with an insurance provider for the provision of an IBG. If you can’t find a copy of your policy, you can contact the insurance provider and request a copy – you may be asked to pay a small fee to obtain a copy.
If you can no longer find the MCS certificate then you should contact MCS.
What you should do if you don’t have an IBG?
In all cases, especially in the event you do not have an IBG in place and your renewable system has a fault, you may be able to contact the manufacturer of the product and discuss the fault with them and you may be able to make a claim on the manufacturer’s warranty. This will only be the case if there is a fault with the actual product, for example a solar panel isn’t working. You will need to ensure that the product is within the manufacturer’s warranty period and also the manufacturer may ask you to supply evidence to confirm it is a fault with the product. This process could involve you sending the product to the manufacturer for testing or even providing independent evidence to the manufacturer proving that the product is faulty. This process could be quite complex and lengthy. If you suspect that one of your solar panels is faulty then you might need to arrange for the panel to be disconnected from your system safely (by a qualified person e.g. electrician) and then send it to the manufacturer whose office could be located outside of the UK, with several manufacturers being based in China.
If the manufacturer route is not feasible, then you should consider contacting installers who are qualified and competent to undertake repairs to your renewable system. You can find installers within your area on the MCS website (click here). The installers registered with MCS have gone through an appropriate certification process to become a member of MCS. However, when you click on a specific installer’s profile you should check to see if they have been certified for your product. Once you have identified suitable installers you should contact them and explain the problems you are experiencing with your installation and obtain a quote. Before the installers can provide you with an accurate quote they will probably need to visit your property and inspect your renewable system, to diagnose the issues and they may charge you to undertake this inspection. Once they have identified the problem with the renewable system they should provide you with a quote to rectify any issue.
Get in touch and share your story
If you believe you should have received an IBG but haven’t, then we would like to hear from you. Its important for HIES to ensure consumers receive robust protection and we are always looking at ways to help improve standards within the industry. Also, if you did try to make a claim on your IBG but it was rejected, for whatever reason, we would like to hear why. Please leave your story in the comments section below.
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Image credit: Sandia Labs.
About the author:
The Home Insulation & Energy Systems Contractors Scheme (HIES) is a Chartered Trading Standards Institute approved Consumer Code for the renewable sector. The HIES Code of Practice requires that consumers are dealt with professionally, courteously and sympathetically. Any products installed by HIES members must be fit for purpose, installed professionally and come with comprehensive guarantees which are covered by specialist insurance, providing consumers with a high level of protection and peace of mind. We aspire to deliver world class dispute resolution services and provide consumers with free access to our frontline complaints team, mediation, independent inspections (at our discretion) and free access to an independent ombudsman. For further information about HIES visit www.hiesscheme.org.uk or follow us on Twitter or Linkedin.
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