Landlord insurance claims: are you covered?

Rental-Agreement-Image-300x199They say your home is your greatest asset. But if you’re a residential landlord then your rented property is also a very valuable revenue-earning investment which needs to be protected.

Insurance is a key element in this and it’s a mistake to think this can be left to tenants. Landlords need their own appropriate cover in case something happens which affects their property and their income. But most importantly, any insurance they take out should be specifically designed for landlords, otherwise they may face difficulties if they need to make a landlord’s insurance claim.

There are lots of relevant products on the market which should be considered. These include:

Buildings insurance
This covers damage to the property caused by, for example, fire, flood or escape of water. Specialist landlord buildings insurance would usually also cover damage caused by vandalism. In addition, it should include ‘loss of rent’, to protect against an interruption to rental payments because of a disaster such as a fire or flood. Buildings insurance is likely to be compulsory if you have a buy-to-let mortgage.

Landlords contents insurance
This covers any contents in the property owned by the landlord but used by the tenant – their own possessions would be covered by their own insurance. So this is particularly important if your property is let furnished. It usually also provides public liability which will help protect against compensation claims if someone is injured in the property.

Rent guarantee
This is different from ‘loss of rent’ and provides protection if a tenant defaults on rental payments. You would normally need a proper tenancy agreement in place with background references for your tenants in order to take out this cover.

Alternative accommodation
You may have a clause in your tenancy agreement which commits you to providing alternative accommodation if your property becomes uninhabitable. Cover for this can be added to your insurance.

Home emergency cover
This can be added to your buildings insurance to protect you and your tenants against loss of essential services or breakdowns.

There are several specialist landlord insurers to consider as well as specific products for landlord from mainstream insurance companies. As always, it’s best to shop around and most importantly to read the small print on any insurance policy so you know exactly what you are – and are not – covered for.

Making a landlords insurance claim

Whatever type of insurance claim you make, it’s always a huge relief to get a speedy settlement. But this is particularly true if you’re a landlord; delays can have severe financial consequences if they extend the length of time during which a rented property is uninhabitable.

This is why many landlords recognise the benefits of using a Loss Assessor if they need to make a specialist landlord insurance claim. It can be an overwhelming burden, particularly if the landlord lives a long way from the property, has an unrelated full-time job, or has multiple rented properties. Having to deal with a complicated insurance claim as well loss adjusters, surveyors and contractors, can be unmanageable.

A landlord’s insurance claim often entails far more than just the reinstatement of the property and replacement of lost or damaged contents. Using a Loss Assessor can make all the difference, particularly when it comes to some of the more technical aspects of the claim. These might include:

  • Disputes over whether the landlord has met statutory obligations over equipment installed in the property.
  • Dealing with the tenants themselves, particularly over whether they or the landlord are liable for elements of the claim. They may not have taken out the right insurance and may expect more than they are entitled to.
  • The extent of lost rental income: what is covered and for how long?
  • Alternative accommodation for tenants if the property is uninhabitable: should this be provided and, if so, who pays for it?
  • Dealing with malicious damage caused by tenants: how do you prove this and how do you recover the costs?

Using a Loss Assessor means that a professional will take the whole process over and ensure the landlord receives what they deserve under the terms of their insurance policy, as quickly as possible.

In addition to the points listed above, if you decide to use a Loss Assessor to handle your landlords insurance claim, then you should expect the following from them:

  • Organising immediate specialist flood or fire restoration works and emergency repairs.
  • Putting together the buildings, landlords contents and any other relevant insurance claim. This would include calculating and compiling a claim for loss of rent if insurance has been taken out to cover this.
  • Handling all communications and attending all meetings with the insurer and their loss adjuster.
  • Exploring with you all your options for reinstating the property, as well as helping to pick the best specialist independent chartered surveyors and contractors. Alternatively, negotiating a cash settlement if you would prefer this.
  • Supervising the surveyor and building contractors carrying out the reinstatement of the property, ensuring you have a full say in how this is carried out.

Who pays for the Loss Assessor?

There is no hard and fast rule about who pays for the Loss Assessor. Typically, there are two different options:

  • Some Loss Assessors offer a full claims team, which will also include a specialist chartered surveyor, a contents and loss of rent expert, and a builder. Usually there is no fee for using this full team.
  • Alternatively, you may decide to choose your own builder to carry out the reinstatement work. If so, you would be charged a fee based on a small percentage of the claim value.

By using the services of a reputable Loss Assessor, you should expect that they will more than offset their fees should they have to charge any.

If you’ve read the information here and feel you would benefit from a conversation with one of our specialist Loss Assessors, please call us on 01978228646 with no obligation.