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When you don't know who your tenant is you need a watertight policy

With grocery shopping becoming more and more expensive, we are being encouraged to 'grow our own'. One poor man has faced every landlord's nightmare when a tenant used his property as a cannabis factory and left it uninhabitable. That's taking self-sufficiency just a little too far!

The kitchen was totally removed, the bathroom ripped out and the tenant had drilled holes everywhere resulting in massive water damage. The owner of the property believed that only one tenant was in residence: he had never met the tenant as the letting was handled by an agent.

When the damage was discovered, insult was added to injury when his insurers said that a malicious damage claim was not valid under the terms of his policy and it would only accept a claim under "unauthorised alteration cover" and this would pay out only £12,000. This would not go very far in restoring the property to its former glory and the landlord took the matter to court. After two years from the date of the claim, the gentleman received more than £128,000 – but no doubt the stress and the shortage of working capital took their toll. The delay in getting the claim sorted out also resulted in further deterioration to the property, thus compounding the problem.

Home insurance is complicated and when people might just buy something quick and cheap online, they may not realise the depth of the cover they have or what happens when you have a claim that may or not be covered by the policy. Buy to let also complicates matters and it is vital to get good insurance advice. One quick call to our friendly and professional team at Westhill Insurance Services will mean you have the advice you need to buy the policy which is right for you.

Here are a few suggestions as to how to make your policy watertight:

> When you arrange your insurance, make sure you know exactly what you need and what risks you have.
> Make sure you know what your insurance covers. If you have any doubts, ask to have them explained – for example, 'accidental damage' can mean different things to different insurers – always check out anything of which you are unsure
> Disclose everything your insurer asks. If you withhold information it can mean your policy is null and void and your claim can be invalidated.
> Beware of underinsuring your property. There are likely to be penalties if you have clearly underinsured
> The building's insurance value should also include professional fees and alternative accommodation and cover VAT, removals, storage and returns in the event of a claim
> Photograph your jewellery and furniture. Identify personal items worth more than specific limits, such as jewellery, antiques, stamps and coins
> Make sure you have suitable locks and a burglar alarm installed, better still if they are NACOSS approved
> Get your home and contents valued every three to five years.
> Check that your policy covers you over the Christmas period, and allows for new goods you purchase during the year

We always hope that disaster will not come to our door, but when you are faced with something like your home being turned into a cannabis farm you will need to make good all the damage (like the home made irrigation system, for example!) and knowing that your insurers are there for you is a huge comfort. For less dramatic claims it is still good to know you can rest assured you are in good hands. Don't be tempted to buy on line, talk to us at Westhill Insurance Services: as an independent insurance broker we will shop around to find you the best deal – so you get service and good value, all in one place.

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 14th September, 2013