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Winter Property Management Tips

Don’t let winter conditions force you to make a claim!

 
We have listed some tips on winter property management to ensure that your property is looked after by your tenants. Therefore ensuring that there are no unnecessary claims resulting in increased premiums:-
 
1) Make sure that the pipes and roof have insulation and the loft storage tank, if there is any, has insulation foam ensuring that they don’t freeze.
 
2) Ask your tenants to make sure that they are heating and maintaining the property correctly, even when they are not there. Tenants often don’t necessarily turn the heating on sometimes because of the cost. They do though need to ensure that it is properly heated so there are no problems with the pipes freezing.
 
3) Make sure that your stopcock is working and that your tenants know where it is.
 
4) Do you have a condensing boiler? If so, make sure to lag the outlet pipe to ensure that it doesn’t freeze during the winter. If they are not the boiler can freeze and consequently need replacing.
 
5) Make sure that your tenants have bled the radiators to release any trapped air. If the radiator isn’t warming up due to trapped air then it won’t keep the house warm.
 
6) Make sure that there are no loose guttering or overhanging trees or broken tiles at the property as these could cause damage during a storm.
 
7) Make sure that you have adequate insurance in place including having enough contents cover
 
8) Check the central heating is working properly. It may be time to have a service of the boiler to make sure that it is as efficient as possible?
 
9) Drain any outside pipes. Burst pipes can be a nightmare and often the outside pipe or water systems are overlooked.
 
10) Does your property have a working chimney? If so, make sure that it is swept on a yearly basis.
 
11) Ask your tenants to make sure if there is any build-up of snow on the roof to keep an eye on it. Often this can melt quickly and consequently cause more damage
 
12) Make sure that the roof is in good repair. Get a roofer round to ensure that there are no leaks in the roof and there are no loose tiles to cause any damage.
 
13) Get them to check all the outside gates to make sure that they are secure and not likely to come off in a storm.
 
14) If your property is empty be sure to drain down the water and keep the heating on a low temperature.
 
15) Make sure to complete any small works such as draughty doors and flimsy pipes before the winter.
 
The above property management tips are to help you to ensure that your home is protected and you don’t make unnecessary claims you don’t need to.

Commercial Property Insurance

Will my landlord insurance cover my commercial property?

 
Absolutely not! You will need an insurance policy made specifically for commercial buildings. Insurers treat commercial properties differently to residential buildings. An important factor in the premium calculation is the type of business occupying the premises. For instance, an office block occupied by clerical workers may be a very low risk for an insurance company. Whereas a takeaway restaurant with a deep fat fryer could be a very high risk. It all depends on what the occupier does, and at what time of the day and week. There are some categories which may be a surprisingly high risk to insurers. Trades such as DIY stores, electrical goods stores, furniture and carpet shops and dry cleaners/launderettes.
 

What type of cover will I have?

 
You will have insurance covering the building as standard. This will also include property owners liability insurance. That will cover guests or employees attending your premises that hurt themselves due to a building fault. The level of cover can vary between £2M to £10M.
 

Can I have loss of rent covered?

 
Yes, we can cover you for loss of rent and again this relates to the type of business. The longer the cover i.e. whether 12 or 36 months then the cheaper the cover can be.
 

Does it cover my employees working on site?

 
Yes, it can. This may be subject to an additional premium. It depends on what they are doing at the property.
 

Are legal costs included?

 
You will find that most insurance companies have some form of legal costs cover for commercial property policies. It is important to check the perils covered and the level of cover provided.
 

Summary

 
We can cover a wide range of commercial properties. This can range from purpose built office blocks to mobile home sites to retail shops and restaurants. There are very little scenarios that cannot be covered. However, each commercial policy needs an individual rating. We need to ensure that we have the whole of your property covered with the right commercial insurance for your building. We can even cover unoccupied commercial property. Which can be difficult to find a provider for.
 
Mark Harrington
 
Managing Director
 
iInsure365

Unoccupied Commercial Property Insurance

Unoccupied commercial insurance is extremely difficult to arrange compared to standard commercial insurance. Many insurance companies do not like to insure the properties as they represent a high risk. Insurers are reluctant to provide cover and premiums can often be higher compared to other building types. We can still obtain cover for you but the actual cover itself may be quite restrictive.
 

Should I take professional advice on how to protect my unoccupied commercial property?

 
You will find that most insurance companies will require some form of security protection at the property. Especially considering that squatters cannot reside in residential properties. An insurance company may request 24-hour security, wired fencing and even surveillance cameras. It is important to drain down the water systems and turn them off. Also, make sure that there are no valuable contents within the property itself. It may be that the insurer requires boarding up of the windows as well.
 

Do I need to look at the security of my property?

 
Yes, we would suggest that you, first of all, do a risk assessment of the property. This is to see if there are any potential points of entry for someone looking to break in. Seek local advice from the police of whether there could be a problem with an empty property. We would suggest that you secure the perimeter to deter people from entering the property. Also, you can look at installing closed-circuit TV and alarms. You will often find that CCTV is a must have for anyone looking to protect a commercial property. It will go a long way to potentially reducing the insurance risk which improves the insurance premium. You should then ensure that any important equipment at the property is either removed or secured. It would also make sense to advertise the security on the outside of the building to let potential criminals know that they are being watched. We would suggest that you also carry out regular checks or have somebody carry these out for you.
The more security measures that you put in place the more likely your premium will come down. It is essential to show your insurance company that you are doing your best to protect your investment.

Can I take out a policy for a short or long period?

 
Yes, you can take out a policy for any length of period as long as the Insurance Company are willing to offer it. Terms can be quite restrictive and premiums extremely high but we are able to offer cover.
 

Summary

 
Unoccupied commercial property insurance is extremely difficult to obtain. We do have markets that will help you cover your property but terms can be restrictive and premiums high. It is important that you do your best to ensure that security professionals check your property. This is to ensure that you are doing the best you can to protect it.

Terrorism Insurance

Terrorism can be defined as causing or threatening harm or fear on the public. In respect to a political, religious, ideological or similar agenda. It involves violence against one or more persons, damage to property, endangering lives of others, risking health or safety of the public and attempting or succeeding to interfere with an electronic system.

Do I need terrorism cover for my property?

 
It is always a difficult subject on whether you need to take out terrorism insurance for your building. It may depend on the specific area that you are in and you may wish to take a view. For instance, if you are in one of the major Cities you may wish to have terrorism cover. The incidences used in this cover are very few and far between but the effects of a claim can be huge.
 

Can I add cover for terrorism to my landlord insurance?

 
Yes, you would need to take out the policy at the same time you take out the buildings insurance. It is important that you advise us of what type of cover you need for terrorism and how much. Most insurance companies can offer but the cost depends on their own individual rates. There is no standard level of cover across the country.
 

Can I get terrorism cover for my commercial building?

 
Yes, but there are certain areas in the country where it can be extremely difficult to find cover and the premiums can be high. It depends on what type of commercial property you have, where it is and who is the occupier. The property would have to be referred to the Insurance Company. In this instance, there may be certain checks covered out before they offered any type of cover. You can find that a rural property in the middle of nowhere with no history of terrorism in the area will warrant a low premium. Whereas a property in Central London that has already experienced terrorism would be very expensive to insure. If insuring the risk is possible at all.
 

Summary

 
Terrorism insurance is an emotive subject. It is very difficult to decide on whether you wish to have cover or not. Some people will perceive it to be an unnecessary amount of money and others would see it as a must. It is totally a matter for you but it is something that we can offer along with your landlord insurance.

Why do you need contents insurance?

We often find that landlords don’t realise that contents cover can be an additional extra. The new Commercial Insurance Act puts the responsibility on landlords. For them to ensure that they have the correct cover for their property. It is now law that landlords are responsible if they are not insured fully in the event of an insurance claim.
 
Not all landlord insurance policies cover landlord’s contents. It is difficult to define what landlord’s contents are. In practical terms, imagine you were to turn the house upside down, the items that fell out would be included as contents. The building insurance covers fixed items such as fitted kitchens, bathrooms and carpets.
 

Are white goods covered for landlords contents insurance?

 
Not everyone’s insurance policy covers white goods. We have an exclusive policy with Aviva insurance which includes landlord’s contents cover up to £5,000. This includes white goods whether fitted or not. Not all policies are the same though. Some landlord insurance policies do not include contents cover or it may be an optional extra. It is so important that you insure your house correctly.
 
Are you a student landlord and have furniture? Is this covered in your landlord’s contents insurance?
 
Most if not all insurance companies would not cover furniture within the property. They would treat this as an added extra. It is therefore important that you check what the policy includes for a furnished property. Look for a policy that will replace belongings on an old for new basis. This means that your possessions will be replaced with shiny new ones should you make a claim. Most student landlords don’t realise that their furniture isn’t covered in the event of a claim against theft, loss or damage by fire. Think how much it would cost to replace such furniture for you?
 

Summary

 
I would suggest that all landlords have a minimum cover of at least £5,000 for landlords contents cover. It is important that the exact amount of goods in the property are insured. Also to consider is whether the insurance company accepts fitted or freestanding white goods. It is important that landlords check their insurance as all insurance companies can be very different in their cover. You can normally take out additional cover at very little cost. It will be a small price to pay for what could cost you thousands in the future. It is better to be safe than sorry.
 
Mark Harrington
 
Managing Director
 

Accidental damage – Do Landlords need this in their insurance?

What is accidental damage?

 
Accidents will happen but what does accidental damage cover in your landlords’ insurance? The definition is uniform across insurance policies. It is when damage occurs as a result of an unexpected, non-deliberate, external action. This means that it is unintentional and a one-off incident that harms your property or its contents. Common examples are dropping a laptop or spilling a glass of red wine on a new beige carpet.
 
However, not every policy has accidental damage. For instance, some will cover accidental damage but not cover any damage to unoccupied areas. Also, it may not cover damage caused by pets or malicious damage.
 

Is DIY damage included?

 
Unfortunately, it may not be. You may find there is protection under a buildings and contents policy but it depends on the job in question. Be aware that it won’t cover some plumbing and electrical work that an amateur has completed. Contractors will have their own insurance to cover their work.
 
Accidental damage accounts for nearly half of all contents insurance claims. However, these are mainly relating to home insurance cover and not landlords. It is important that you differentiate between the two.
 

What does it cover

 
It is normally the cost of repairing or replacing property or contents damaged in a one-off incident. The cover could come under your landlord’s contents insurance so it is important to check the level of cover. As previously stated not all insurers have it within their policy. It can also be taken out as an extra with some insurance companies. Accidental damage does not cover wear and tear of an item over a period of time. If the tenant has their own furniture or belongings within the property it does not cover these either.
 
It is important to familiarise yourself with your policy and understand what it includes and what it doesn’t. As accidental damage could be an extendable cover.
 

Summary

 
Accidental damage is closely linked with landlord’s contents insurance. It is rare that you can get accidental damage to replace a carpet when the tenant has been at the property for some five to seven years. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has a lot of articles on what wear and tear is. It is important to understand when the accidental damage has taken place. You would also need to make a claim within 30 days of the incident. So it is important that the landlord or letting agent communicate with the tenants on any damage that may have occurred. A landlord couldn’t make a claim at the end of a tenancy agreement when the incident occurred prior. It is always important to inspect the property on a regular basis.
 
Mark Harrington
 
Managing Director
 
iInsure365

Landlord Insurance – Do I need malicious damage cover or not?

Malicious damage is not in all landlords insurance policies. You will find that some insurance policies will cover malicious damage by tenants. They may not cover damage by a third party or vice versa. Our Aviva insurance policy will cover both damages by the tenant and by a third party.
 

What is malicious damage insurance?

 
Malicious damage insurance doesn’t usually exist as a cover on its own right. The definition of malicious damage for most insurers is damage caused by somebody on purpose. Some insurers will include damage made by tenants and some won’t. You will need to check the wording of your policy and what excess applies. Malicious damage cover will pay for the cost of repairing intentional damages.
 
If the property is a flat you might find that the freeholder has the responsibility to deal with the building insurance. If that is the case they will then be responsible for any malicious damage that takes place at the property. It is important for landlords to realise that malicious damage does not cover tenant’s possessions. It is always a good idea for tenants to take out their own insurance for their belongings.
 
Malicious damage for a commercial property includes damage by vandals or disgruntled customers. It is important to be able to show what and who caused the malicious damage. As it will affect the policy depending on who caused the damage. Examples of malicious damage include smashed windows, doors or frames, arson and graffiti on the walls or furniture. This does not mean that it includes accidental damage. Accidents can happen.
 
Accidental damage is unintentional. It usually occurs suddenly and includes physical damage and/or loss of function. Examples could be a ball kicked through a window or even someone falling through the ceiling in the attic. It is every landlord’s nightmare that the rented property is deliberately trashed. The repairs or replacement of the broken items such as furniture and fittings could run into the hundreds or thousands.
 

Summary

 
We would suggest that this is an absolute must for a landlord to have. Not only is malicious damage important but also landlords contents insurance. There have been occasions where tenants have left the property trashed and been in rent arrears. Request a call from us to discuss rent guarantee insurance further. It is always an emotional time when tenants trash a property but it does happen. Landlords need to know that you are going to be covered and not lose out. There are always additional extras so if you would like to discuss your cover with us request a call back.
Mark Harrington
Managing Director
iInsure365

Reinstatement cost – Have you got the right amount of cover?

As a landlord, you are responsible to ensure that you have the correct amount of insurance for your property. Landlord insurance is calculated on the reinstatement value of your property. That is what it would cost to rebuild the property back to its original state. Many landlords often use their surveyors’ report for this figure. If the property has recently been bought or remortgaged this won’t be an issue. You are responsible as a landlord to ensure that your rebuild cost is correct.
 

Did you know that if you make a claim and the reinstatement cost is incorrect it could cause you a problem?

 
When you insure your assets, like a building, you must advise the insurer of the value to insure the property for. If you get this insurance value wrong and it is lower than the real reinstatement value then you are at risk. Meaning that in an event of a claim you will only receive a percentage of the claim amount. This method of paying out a percentage of a claim is known as a condition of average.
 
For example, the insurance policy covering the building is based on a sum insured of £80,000.00. When a claim occurred the real insurance value was £100,000.00. The proportion of average would then be £80,000.00 or 80%. You would only receive 80% of any loss that you suffer.
 
There are various ways that you can calculate the insurance but the easiest way is via https://abi.bcis.co.uk/. The website will work out for you the exact rebuild cost. It only takes two to three minutes to register and go through various questions to help you. You could alternatively instruct a local surveyor. Their costs are upwards of £250.00 but it is so important that you get it right.
 
You will often find that the rebuild figure is lower than what the properties market value is. This is because in real terms it is what it costs to rebuild not what it is valued at today. There are rare exceptions of when the property value is lower than the rebuild cost but these are market specific.
 

Summary

 
I believe that it is absolutely critical for landlords to check their landlord insurance rebuild cost. We have had one very bad experience for a landlord where he cancelled the index linking over many years. This lead to the property being underinsured. Whilst he was saving £30.00 or £40.00 each year by removing it, it came to a devastating end when the property burnt down. Due to the removal of index linking, the payout was £30,000 less than the full claim amount. I would strongly advise all landlords to check their rebuild figures using the link that we have provided above.
 
Mark Harringtons
 
Managing Director
 
www.iinsure365.co.uk

New Rules for Houses in Multiple Occupation

The Government have a new set of rules for landlords in respect to houses of multiple occupation. These have been in place as of the 1st of October 2018. The new rules work alongside further legislation from the last five years. Put in place by the Government. The letting Industry has had to deal with two lots of legislation every year for the last five years.
 

Does this affect you?

If your property has five or more occupants from two or more separate households then yes, depending on the following. If the property is either a converted building with living accommodation or self-contained flat this will affect you.  If you have a purpose built flat you are lucky because it doesn’t apply.
 
This then takes over from previous legislation. It also takes away the three storey rule which no longer applies. If you have a property you will now need to apply for a mandatory HMO licence from the 1st of October. Not only are there heavy fines for anyone renting these premises out without a licence. It is also more than likely that any local authority will refuse in future to give you a licence to rent it out.
 

However, there are more new rules!

 
The minimum bedroom space will be 6.51 sq metres for a single bedroom. For rooms occupied by two adults the size required is at least 10.22 sq metres. Rooms housing children 10 or below need to be at least 4.64 sq metres.
 

What else do Landlords have to do?

 
Well, the list isn’t endless. It does depend on your local authority. There are items such as having adequate bins for the property.
 

Minimum Electrical Requirements.

 
Our advice would be to talk to the local authority to find out the requirements. Most authorities have also included their own selective licencing. This means that they can pick areas where they enforce certain properties to have certain minimum requirements. Then, of course, there is the dreaded fee! Is this just another stealth tax? Fees can range dramatically from £400.00 upwards.
 
Landlords of existing properties will be given up to 18 months to make the required changes when reapplying for a licence. Check with your local authority before doing so.
 
When will the Government stop introducing more and more legislation on landlords? Are these good provisions for tenants? Are they out there to reduce overcrowding? Will, it put landlords off in the future letting out properties to multiple tenants?
 
For landlords, it is important to ensure that your property has a licence. In the event that it doesn’t and there was an incident you may not be able to claim. Our advice is to speak to your local authority and find out what’s required.
 
Mark Harrington
 
Managing Director
 
iInsure365
 

New Rules on Gas Safety Certificates – Did you know?

On the 6th of April, a new law passed in respect of the timing of gas safety certificates. A gas safety certificate can be carried out up to two months before the expiry date without the renewal date changing. So it gives more leeway for landlords and plumbers. Allowing them to carry out these checks up to two months before the end of the current certificate.
 
Before, records needed to be retained for at least 2 years. Now the amending regulations state to keep the last two records as a minimum.
 
This is a very subtle difference. Theoretically, gas safety record completion could be up to 14 months after being due. and so if it were left as only two years, there could be a situation where only one record needed retaining. The change fixes this potential problem.
 
The new rules do not change the landlord’s obligation to carry out a gas safety check.  Landlords now have flexibility offered by the rules.
 
Don’t hesitate to keep yourself updated with other law changes. Our monthly newsletter contains all our new articles. Register on our website to keep up to date
 
Mark Harrington
 
Managing Director
 
iInsure365
 

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01273 827090


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