If something goes wrong at your buy to let property, you may need to claim on your landlord insurance. What can you claim on your landlord insurance, and how do you go about it? We'll explain the ins and outs so you know what to do.
How to Claim
To initiate a landlord insurance claim, you need to contact your insurer and follow their rules to ensure that your claim is paid. Generally speaking, you'll need to do the following to make a landlord insurance claim:
- Call the insurer's claims number—you can find this in your policy documents or online.
- Explain what has happened and what loss or damage you are claiming for.
- You may need to complete a claims form in addition to disclosing the details over the phone—this varies by insurer and situation.
- Ask for and follow advice from your insurer to limit damage.
- Inquire about your excess.
- Check your policy documents to confirm timing deadlines or any requirements of claiming.
- Send any paperwork that is required as proof of the claim, such as photos or repair estimates from a builder.
- You may need to meet with an assessor who will check the damage in person and review the claim details.
If your claim is related to theft or vandalism, be sure that you also file a report with your local police station as soon as possible. You'll need to submit the incident number as supporting proof for your claim.
What Claims Are Covered?
Each landlord insurance policy is unique, but landlord insurance can cover claims for the following types of damage or loss. This assumes, of course, that you have bought the specific type of cover. Landlord insurance can be customised to provide different coverages according to your needs. Check the terms of your policy to find out what you claim for, which can include:
- Building claims: Damage to the building (e.g., walls, doors, windows, plumbing, electrics, etc.)
- Content claims: Damaged or stolen contents (e.g., furniture or furnishings, white goods, carpets, window coverings, etc.)
- Liability claims: Property owner's liability (in case of personal injury or property damage that you're liable for as the property owner)
- Loss of rent claims: Covers lack of payment by tenants
- Rent guarantee claims: Covers lost rent if property cannot be occupied e.g., due to physical damage
- Home emergency and boiler breakdown: Plumbing, electric, pest, security or heating claims
You should check the terms of your policy to understand what is covered and what is excluded. For example, a property left unoccupied for over 60 days might not be covered.
Common Reasons a Landlord Insurance Claim Might be Refused
If you don't adhere to the terms of your landlord insurance policy or if a claim is not covered, your claim might be refused. Here are some reasons that your insurer might not pay your landlord insurance claim.
- The cause of damage is not covered by or specifically excluded from your policy.
- The claim is for damage caused by general wear and tear (e.g., a leak due to deterioration of an aging roof).
- The claim is for damage resulting from lack of maintenance or failure to keep the property in a good state of repair.
- The claim was not filed in a timely manner (e.g., within 24 hours, as dictated by your policy documents).
- You have not tried to prevent further damage (e.g., collecting water from a roof leak in a bucket).
- You gave incorrect information when bought your policy or made your claim.
- You did not inform your insurer of changes to your circumstances or changes in tenancy or occupation at the property (e.g., the property was unoccupied during renovation work).
- You haven't complied with the conditions of your policy.
If you feel your insurer has unjustly refused a landlord insurance claim, you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) here. Before doing this, however, you're meant to first make a complaint to your insurer and give them 8 weeks to respond. If you're uncertain about how to let them know what's wrong and how you'd like things put right, you can also contact the FOS for guidance. When making a complaint with the FOS, in most cases you'll need to do so within 6 months of receiving the business’s final response to your complaint.
Inform Your Insurer of Changes
To help avoid falling foul of one of the most common reasons for a landlord insurance claim to be denied, be sure to let your insurer know if there's a change at the property or your circumstances. Be aware that you may need to pay a higher premium as a result. For example, landlord insurance is priced based on the type of tenants you have, so a new tenant might affect your premium. Student or young, single tenants might cost you more, for instance.
- In the case of new tenants
- Change in the rebuild value of the property
- Change to the value of the contents (e.g., if you buy new white goods or install a new carpet)
- If the property is unoccupied (e.g., more than 30 days)
- If you raise the rent (e.g., affects loss of rent cover)
- Change to your marital status or contact details
- Building works or renovations (e.g., a new bathroom or loft extension)
Should You Claim?
A claim on your landlord insurance can end up costing you in the end, so it's important to understand what costs you might incur by making a claim. First, you'll need to pay the excess on your policy. If your policy has a £250 excess for contents insurance and you make a claim for £1,000 then you pay the first £250 of the claim (the excess amount) and the insurance would cover the remaining £750.
And then after you make a claim, your insurance can go up when it's time to renew. Your insurer might think you're a higher risk for future claims and would therefore raise your premium at renewal. If you try to get competing quotes from other insurers at renewal time, you'll also need to disclose your claim in the application process, so a claim can affect your rate from other insurers as well. However, you may be asked to also disclose situations for which you could have claimed but did not, so even if you don't claim you could face higher rates anyway.
To the extent you have received a discount on landlord insurance via a no claims discount, you may also lose all or part of this savings if you claim.
If you're considering making an accidental damage claim, remember that you may be able to claw back funds to fix tenant damage from your tenant via the rental deposit. However, in cases where the damage is more than the deposit or you choose to save the deposit for other issues (e.g., tenant default) then you may choose to claim on your landlord insurance.
With all of this in mind, also think about the size of the claim when deciding whether or not to initiate a claim. If the claim is quite small, it may not be worth it. For example, if you have a £250 excess and you are looking at a bill of £300 to make wall repairs after a small leak, it might not make sense to submit the claim. Your insurance would only cover £50 in that case, and you could face higher premiums going forward as a result.