The current cold weather has led to problems for landlords with unoccupied vacant properties. As the thaw sets in Endsleigh Insurance is advising landlords to take precautions against water damage caused by leaking pipes and frost damaged water tanks.
Alex Stutchbury of Endsleigh Insurance explains; “The problem is the recent deep chill on the back of the already cold seasonal weather. As temperatures start to rise again and frozen pipework thaws out, any damage caused will start to leak. If the leak isn’t found quickly it can easily lead to significant damage, and in an unoccupied property it’s not inconceivable that a leak could go unnoticed for several days or longer.”
Endsleigh offers insurance policies for landlords that include cover for periods when their property is unoccupied. However, it claims that not all policies offered to landlords offer the kind of cover for unoccupied properties that the current cold weather demands, and the same issue applies to private householders whose homes are currently unoccupied.
As a result the company has issued some advice to help protect empty residential properties and ensure that appropriate insurance cover is in place.
Unoccupied & Vacant Homes - 7 ways to protect your property
1. Watch out for ‘Flee Cover’
When insuring a property that is vacant you may hear the term Flee Cover. This means that the insurer has decided to give you a minimal cover while the house being unoccupied. The policy is usually limited and covers damage for fire, lightning and explosion. Many owners of unoccupied properties will therefore find they are NOT covered for water damage or vandalism.
2. Keep the heating on
During this cold weather it is essential that central heating is kept on at a low level to avoid water freezing in pipes. Endsleigh recommends setting thermostats to 13 degrees centigrade and running the system for a few hours at night and again during the day.
3. Clear your gutters
Make sure gutters are clear from any obstruction as this will avoid damp and water penetration problems. It will also make guttering last longer and help you find and repair broken gutters, down pipes and brackets.
4. Invest in decent locks
This will help reduce insurance premiums and make it easier to find the full cover against burglary and vandalism that your property needs. Five lever mortise deadlocks and window locks on all accessible windows is recommended by most insurers.
5. Check the property regularly
Regular visits will deter criminals who may be watching the property, and will also mean that you find leaks, break-ins, vandalism and other damage before the problem escalates. Also remember that most insurers have terms on their policies requiring this.
6. Keep in touch with neighbours
As you neighbours to keep an eye on the property and make sure they have your contact details. Do your bit by maintaining the property’s appearance, for example cutting the grass, clearing rubbish. Your neighbours might be able to contact you in event of emergency, especially if a problem occurs at night.
7. Regularly check and update your insurance policy
Make sure you have adequate insurance and that your policy is up to date. Always insure your property with a cover adequate for the time it is unoccupied, and remember that most standard insurers only cover between 30 and 60 days ‘unoccupancy’.
Specialist insurers can offer covers for all major risks, protecting you properly in case of the worst happens. When arranging your insurance, make sure you check all the cover options available to you. Saving a few pounds on insurance premiums by taking minimal cover could end up costing you dear this winter.
Endsleigh is an independent intermediary specialising in the provision of insurance and financial products for career people.
The team have access to the leading insurers and lenders in the UK market, offering comprehensive advice on all areas of financial planning. Along with offering advice on financial protection, investments and retirement planning, Endsleigh also has dedicated mortgage and corporate advisers.
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