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Home » Latest News » The threat of water escape in vacant properties

The threat of water escape in vacant properties

Fire, break-ins, earthquakes, acts of God. There are plenty of insurable risks that sound disastrous, but the biggest headache for landlords involves something far more innocent: water.

Constituting nearly 20% of all buildings and contents insurance claims, damage related to water escape cost the industry £730million in 2010, more than double the impact of burglary.

Figures released by the Association of British Insurers put the daily cost of water escape at £2million, with 371,000 claimants receiving average payouts of £2,000.

With some tenants seemingly oblivious, landlords find themselves at heightened risk of water escape, but it is when their properties are unoccupied that water damage can be most costly.

Prolonged damage

In empty property, leaks are less likely to be spotted early, with prolonged presence of water exacerbating localised damage, increasing the size of the area affected, and driving up the cost of repair.

Logic may suggest leaks that occur behind walls would be costlier, but figures from Allianz showed the cost of damage related to unconcealed pipes was greater, at approximately £7,500 a claim.

A report by Allianz showed leaking feeder pipes were the cause of 39% of water damage claims they dealt with in 2010, with leaking showers responsible for 11%, toilets causing 9% of claims and radiators 6%.

Making the problem worse, because of the nature of water, and as illustrated by damp patches caused by roof problems, damage does not always appear at the point of escape, with the cost of investigation adding to the burden of property owners.

Winter months

The risks are far greater for landlords with vacant properties in winter months.

Legal and General saw damage caused by frozen pipes rocket from 1.3% of claims in 2009 to 6.5% the year later.

While the cold snap that year was undoubtedly a major contributor, landlords tempted to save gas bills by not heating non-rent-yielding investments would also have been disproportionately affected.

Landlord insurance

Provided landlords have the correct landlord insurance cover, the financial impact of water damage need only extend to the cost of the excess on their policy.

Every landlord insurance policy differs from the next, and it is vital to make sure the details are tailored to the property it covers.

There is  a host of landlord insurance providers on the market, so while choosing the correct policy can be problematic, there is value to be found.

Using the services of a specialist landlord broker like Alan Boswell should make the best deals easier to find.

With expertise in the landlord insurance field, we are proud of our record of providing tailored policies that give our clients cost-effective protection against the kind of risk that can turn a good investment bad.

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