Underinsuring properties means landlords risk higher repair costs
New research by Aviva insurance found that 86% of rental properties surveyed were found to be significantly underinsured
The results of the survey have prompted many landlord insurers to issue a warning to all landlords about the risks they face if their properties are not insured to the full reinstatement value.
Sim Sekhon, spokesman for the UK’s No.1 specialist suppliers of products and services for landlords and the UK lettings industry, Legal 4 Landlords explains:
“If landlords are underinsured, when a claim is made, most insurers will apply an average allowing them to reduce any payments. E.g. if a flood or fire caused £75,000 (GBP) of partial damage and the property is insured for £200,000 (GBP), but its true reinstatement is £300,000 (GBP), this would equate to being 1/3rd underinsured. Applying average this 1/3rd will be taken off the landlords claim and the insurer would then payout a maximum of £50,000 (GBP). This would leave the landlord with an insurance shortfall of £25,000 (GBP)”.
The current economic climate in the UK has led to increased restrictions on policy clauses and reductions in the market values of some buy to let properties. Whilst landlords may be looking for savings during these times, it is important that this is not at the expense of the correct insurance cover, and it is worth noting that properties unoccupied for more than 30 days may require specialist insurance policies.
Generally, property values insured should represent the cost of reinstatement to the existing specification. Ancillary costs should be considered, for example sums insured of buildings should make allowance for items such as demolition, debris removal and professional fees, as required.
Particular buildings may also require additional or unusual costs to be incurred for specialist reasons, such as compliance with Public Authorities regulations, for example, listed buildings or buildings containing asbestos material necessitating removal by approved contractors.
For guidance on rebuilding costs there is no substitute for the advice of a qualified surveyor.
Whilst ensuring landlords have adequately insured their rental property asset using buildings insurance, it is also as important to remember that when letting property to tenants, standard home insurance policies often exclude buy-to-let properties. For this reason a specialist landlord insurance, including landlord liability cover, is vital for rental property owners. Leasehold landlords should also be advised to take a contents policy which includes liability cover, and tenants should seek their own tenant contents insurance.