Seven surprising reasons why you need landlord insurance - Total Landlord Insurance

May 28, 2021
Total Landlord Insurance
Seven surprising reasons why you need landlord insurance - Total Landlord Insurance

It will come as no surprise that we consider landlord insurance a must-have. But according to our good landlord quiz, a staggering 15 percent of landlords still don’t have landlord insurance.

Experienced landlords will know it’s vital that their insurance protects them from break-ins or accidental damage by tenants. But many unforeseen circumstances can endanger your investment, and it’s important to ensure your policy protects your property from them all.

By analysing a decade of claims data, we established that escape of water is the most common cause of damage to property, followed by storm damage.

So what are the other unexpectedly impactful problems landlords need to protect their property from? Here are seven you may not have considered.

1. Escape of water

34 per cent of all claims paid out between 2008 and 2018 have been for escape of water. This means water damage coming from leaking pipes or fixed water tanks, baths, sinks or toilets, or a leaking dishwasher or washing machine, but not flooding from external sources. This problem is particularly common in areas with Victorian plumbing.

Regular maintenance should include servicing of the property’s boiler, fixing dripping taps, and checks of leaking radiators, washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, or sinks. Insulating pipes can prevent them from freezing over in colder weather and potentially bursting.

The Association of British Insurers states that the average cost of repairs caused by a burst pipe during freezing weather was £8,800. However, Total Landlord Insurance has previously paid out £79,756 for a single claim (including loss of rent) when a split pipe in the bathroom of a ground floor flat sprayed water all over the floor, which pooled and saturated the flooring, skirting and walls. The problem wasn’t noticed until the tenants returned from holiday.

Find out more about how to prevent and deal with the escape of water with our full guide.

2. Storm damage

Extreme weather can cause trees or other objects to crush parts of properties, loosen roof tiles, and lead to water damage and more.

Simple maintenance like clearing gutters, downspouts and drains to prevent overflow in bad weather can reduce damage during storms. It’s also important to inspect the roof of your property and replace any loose or cracked tiles, check your chimney for cracks and loose bricks, maintain fences and inspect trees regularly.

When a storm is forecast, you should also carry out the above checks again, secure garden furniture and fences, and inspect windows and doors.

Total Landlord Insurance received 285 storm damage claims between January 2015 and January 2020.

There has also been an increase in named storms in recent years and predictions from the UK Environment Agency are that we’re going to get more intense bouts of flooding.

Scientists also predict that climate change is likely to lead to higher storm surges as sea levels rise.

3. Liability

Landlord liability insurance is a type of public liability insurance that will cover landlords if a third party – such as a tenant, visitor or tradesperson – is injured in their property. This could result from a visitor tripping over loose flooring, or if leaking pipes cause damage to a tenant’s belongings.

Compensation requested in response to such an accident could cost landlords a considerable amount

Minimise your risk with regular maintenance and by asking tenants to inform you of any problems as soon as possible.

If a claim is made against you, do not admit liability or offer compensation. Take time-stamped photos of the property, and contact your insurer immediately.

4. Subsidence

Subsidence is when the ground beneath a property sinks, pulling the property’s foundations down with it. This process can cause the walls and floors to shift, leading to cracks and potentially destabilising the construction of the property. Damage caused by this problem can prove costly – our most expensive claim for subsidence damage was £71,800.

Subsidence can be caused by hot or dry weather leading to soil shrinkage, wet weather and poor drainage that causes softened soil to be washed away, and trees and shrubs disrupting housing foundations.

Look out for larger cracks that are visible both internally and externally, or around doors and windows. Diagonal cracks that grow in size as they move away from the ground and cracks where an extension meets the rest of the property can also be signs of subsidence as opposed to settlement.

You must act immediately if you suspect subsidence, taking time-stamped photos and contacting your insurer.

Subsidence is a complicated issue – find out more with our full guide.

5. Underground services

Landlords are actually responsible for the repair of any sewer, piping, communication and electrical lines connected to their property. As the cost of fixing any failures may be sizeable, it’s important to ensure underground service cover is included in your insurance policy.

You can prevent damage to underground services with regular maintenance – clean out drains and have them professionally checked annually at a minimum.

Any tree roots growing near drains will also need to be removed. If you’re unsure where drains, water pipes and plumbing fixtures become your responsibility as opposed to that of the water company – i.e if there isn’t a stop tap or any clear demarcation – contact them in case of any damage to see who is responsible for resolving the problem.

You should also advise tenants not to flush nappies, sanitary towels or wet wipes down the toilet, or in fact anything else, as blockages aren’t covered as part of underground services policies. They should also report any problems to you immediately.

6. Rehousing costs/loss of rent

Being a landlord is a business, and your turnover comes from rental income. So what happens if an event like a fire or flooding means your tenants can’t live in your property?

This is often referred to as ‘denial of access’ and includes access to your building being denied by police, fire service, ambulance or government and law authorities as a result of a peril.

Your insurance policy should list these perils. They usually include fire, flooding, lightning strikes, and theft. While you have the power to minimise the risk of these dangers, if emergency services or local authorities deny you access to your property, you have to comply. The decision is usually taken as a matter of public interest to prevent danger or risk.

Your property can also be deemed non-tenantable due to an insured peril. For example, something like a kitchen fire putting the kitchen out of order. Due to this lack of facilities, the property would be considered uninhabitable, and therefore the landlord would again lose rent.

While this could cause problems for landlords, a comprehensive landlord policy would pay for loss of rent or for alternative accommodation for tenants.

7. Accidents and malicious damage in between tenancies

Landlord insurance is needed whether you have tenants or not. As soon as you own a buy-to-let property, you are at risk if you aren’t insured.

Damage and accidents can also occur when a property is empty in the periods between different occupants. If damage occurs while the property is vacant, it will of course still cost you to repair the damage if you don’t have insurance. It could also delay when your new tenants can move in, preventing you from receiving rental income.

The amount of time the property is empty might impact whether you’re insured. Total Landlord Insurance provides full cover between tenancies for up to 90 days subject to policy terms and conditions. Other policies may cover shorter periods.

While landlord building and contents insurance isn’t mandatory, we believe you should think of it as a necessity rather than a nice-to-have. Mortgage lenders usually ask landlords to take out a specialist landlord insurance policy. More than anything else, it will give you peace of mind knowing that if the worst case scenario comes to pass, you’re covered.

Find out more about how to choose the best landlord insurance policy for you in our ultimate guide to landlord insurance cover, or get in touch for a quote.

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