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The best ways to avoid common buy-to-let insurance claims

Damage caused by water, fire, explosion and theft have been identified as the primary reasons that buy-to-let landlords make insurance claims, but there are simple measures that property investors can take to help make life as a landlord easier.

By analysing the latest available data from the Association of British Insurers, online letting agent and property management provider Howsy found that water damage results in the largest number of insurance claims, followed by damage to fire and explosion, while the third most common reason for making a claim was theft.

Water damage

The escape of water typically stems from severe storms or floods, leaky or burst pipes, roof damage, drainage problems, and even malfunctioning dishwashers and washing machines.

In order to prevent water damage, landlords are advised to: inspect roofs for broken shingles, large debris and the like; clean a property’s gutters regularly; caulk and seal any windows; check pipes; and test a property’s sump pump frequently.

Fire and explosions

Landlords can help to avoid fires and explosions by ensuring that a property’s heating system is regularly serviced by a professional, though much of the onus, in this case, falls upon tenants, who should remove lint from dryer filters after each use, refrain from using extension cables and plug-in power bars, and keep cooking oil containers away from hobs/stoves.

It is also advisable to ensure that smoking materials are properly extinguished, while firewood, rubbish and piles of leaves should be kept away from a property so that they do not become kindling in the event of a fire.

Theft

To prevent theft, Howsy advises landlords to upgrade a property’s security by installing an alarm, deadlocks, and peepholes. Automatic lights on a property’s exterior or garage can also prove a useful deterrent against burglars, as can window shutters.

Further to these main causes of house insurance claims are accidental damage, weather, and domestic subsidence, though ‘other domestic claims’ are in fact the fourth most common reason among tenants.

Calum Brannan, CEO of Howsy, commented: “Landlords can face a number of problems from the tenant side of a rental agreement, but the property itself can also throw up a number of issues that can cause a financial inconvenience. 

“Keeping a property fit for purpose is vital not only from a financial standpoint but also a legal one and failing to do so can cost time and money at best, but in the worst-case scenarios, it can result in legal action and even a fatality.

“Therefore all landlords should ensure that maintaining their property is done on a frequent and thorough basis not only for their sake but for that of their tenants.” 

Distribution of domestic property insurance claims in UK from theAssociation of British Insurers

Property insurance domestic claims distribution in UK by cause of claim

 Reason

Claims (%)

Escape of water

31

Fire & explosion

17

Theft

16

Other domestic claims

13

Accidental damage

12

Weather

8

Domestic subsidence

4

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