Buy-to-let insurance claims soar in wake of Storm Angus

Buy-to-let specialist insurer Simple Landlords has reported a surge in calls from landlords whose investment properties were damaged by Storm Angus.

Angus, the first named storm of the season, hit the UK last Sunday with winds up to 97mph recorded across southern England.

Simple Landlords received 40% more claims on the Monday and Tuesday following the storm than the previous week, and a 25% spike in calls.

Amongst those, landlords made 672% more claims for weather related damage such as damage caused by falling trees, and roof damage caused by flash flooding.

Claims Manager Dave Walker, who heads Simple_s claims handling team in Elland, West Yorkshire, said: _Our team was ready to help our customers and I_m pleased to report we answered over 80% of calls within 20 seconds._

_The first storm of the season serves as a reminder to all landlords to make sure their property is well maintained as we head into winter. A well maintained property stands a much better chance of squaring up to mother nature than one in need of repairs. Last year the cumulative effects of heavy winds and rain took their toll and claims rose in severity towards the end of the season._

Take these simple steps from Simple Landlords Insurance to winter-proof your property now, and enjoy peace of mind for you and your tenants over winter.

Prevent burst pipes

Burst pipes caused by frozen water is the number one issue caused by falling temperatures and account for one fifth of insurance claims made by landlords.

This happens most often over winter if a property is empty and the heating is off because it is unoccupied or the tenants have gone on holiday. The water freezes and expands in the pipes, which crack and burst when the weather warms.

Prevent burst pipes by advising your tenants to keep the heating on low even at night, and especially if they go away on holiday. If they do have a leak, it is their responsibility to report it promptly and your responsibility as a landlord to arrange the repair. If your tenants do find a burst pipe, make sure they can switch the water off immediately at the stop cock to prevent further damage.

Check your insurance policy

The last thing you want as you_re shifting into holiday mode is to discover your tenants are having an emergency. The only thing that_s worse is to later discover that your insurance policy is out of date, or doesn_t provide the cover you need. Make sure your policy is in order and up to date and if you live far away or will be unavailable over Christmas and New Year, consider adding home emergency cover to your policy.

Weather proof your roof

Wind and storm damage can cause some serious damage to your property but insurance policies will only cover this if your property has been reasonably maintained.

Most insurance companies measure storms using the Beaufort wind force scale. It is generally considered highly unlikely that a storm below 52mph would damage a well maintained property. Loose ridge tiles, old fencing probably won_t be covered on your insurance if damaged in winds less that those classed as at storm levels by the Beaufort scale.

Make sure the heating is workingÿ

By having a draughty, cold property, not only is it uncomfortable for your tenants but it also could lead to a number of problems, including mould, a broken boiler and frozen pipes.

Take steps to improve your property_s heating by installing insulation, bleeding radiators and installing draught excluders around windows and doors. It_s also a good idea to call a Gas Safe registered engineered to check the boiler is in good working order, before temperatures really plummet.

Unblock gutters

Although often overlooked, clearing gutters of debris and leaves is crucial, especially in the colder months. Having gutters that don_t drain properly can cause a whole host of problems for your property, like rot, penetrating damp and damage to the foundation caused by water running down external walls.

ÿIf it snows or freezes, a blocked gutter could also come loose from your property, causing even more problems. Check gutters are secured properly, and speak to your tenants about keeping them clear.

Condensation and mouldÿ

Mould is a nightmare for many landlords, and if ignored for a long time, it can be very difficult to get rid of. Not only is it unsightly, but it can also pose significant health risks especially to people with lung conditions and children, which could threaten your tenancy contract in a worst case scenario.

During winter, damp and mould can get worse because of condensation caused by things like heated rooms with poor ventilation, or clothes being dried on radiators. Remove any existing patches of mould, and make sure your tenants know how to reduce damp and condensation in the home over winter.

Simple Landlords has produced a Risk Report to explain the top causes for landlords to claim on their insurance and how to mitigate against those risks.

By:ÿElinor Zuke. elinor@zuke.co.uk

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