That’s the question I find myself asking today…
As we enter the cold season, I am reminded of the horrible, horrible winter we had last year where we had a multitude of frozen pipes, broken boilers, upset tenants and my ever decreasing bank balance to pay the bills. I remember at one point thinking to myself I would stop answering the phone. Every time I answered it, it seemed to cost me yet more money. Alas, ignorance was not an option…especially not when my tenants have me on speed dial and think nothing of bombarding me with their free annual text quota in a day.
And so with a heavy heart, I like many other landlords, are entering that wonderfully festive season which is traditionally known as Christmas to everyone else and T’is Season to be Jolly. Which in the landlord’s world – T’is the Season to Worry. Which in the plumbers world Ti’s Season To Plunder. Yes, for plumbers, winter is their peak season – this is the manual workers equivalent of City Boy Banker’s Bonus Month!
So when my kindly insurance broker called me to remind me it was that dreaded time of the year again – Insurance Renewal Time. I felt the sense of dread for the forthcoming cold season even more clammily around my neck…of course, it could have something to do with my annual premiums being the equivalent of a new car – or maybe I just need to get my boiler checked…
Anyhow as my broker is cheerfully telling me how this year I just have an 8% increase on my premiums (which I suspected I was meant to be grateful for) he then informs me of his new Christmas Selling Scam to fill his Santa Stockings. It’s Landlord Home Emergency Cover. I am aghast – am I not spending enough money with his company – and now he wants MORE!!! So I scoff and scorn about home emergency policies and bleet on about the cost and other such stuff. And then he stops me in my tracks when he tells me the price. It is a measly £59 including central heating cover per property. For the year. Yes, £59 for the year.
At such a tiny price there has got to be a catch. I mean this is £4.91 per month. So I ask him to send me over the policy details so I can check the small print. I then get onto the websites of Homeserve, AA, Swinton, LandlordCall, LandlordPlus and a million other sites which claim they offer Landlord Home Emergency Cover – there are a lot! And the price range varies – admittedly none of them as cheap as what’s he’s offered – but if I chose to I could spend 5 times more and go with Homeserve…for a pretty similar package.
So what do I get for £59? Well I get:
Plumbing and drainage: Sudden failure of, or damage to the plumbing and drainage system. This includes leaking pipes, blocked drains, water tanks and blockages in toilet waste pipes.
Gas & Electrical Supply: Sudden and complete failure or breakdown of the gas or electricity supply within your property
Pests: Professional extermination and control of pests in your home including cellars and outbuildings
Roofing: Damage to the roof of your home caused by storm or fallen trees or branches
Security & Glazing: Damage caused to external locks, doors and windows
Primary Heating: Complete failure or breakdown of either the heating and/or hot water supply provided by your primary heating system
3 Way Claim Helpline: A specific appointment time is agreed between the tenant and the tradesperson while on the phone to the claim helpline
Admittedly I can pull holes in the “emergency cover” and I can see limitations and exclusions where they will probably try and wriggle out of it. But, you know I have had to shell out a lot for broken windows, burst pipes, broken boilers, smashed roof tiles from falling branches and a huge number of blocked toilet waste pipes over the last year!
And so I ummed and arrhed and asked lots of other landlords for their experiences. And I have to be honest I was undecided. It sounded too cheap…and you know the saying “If it’s too good to be true…”
My broker usefully told me “It’s the sort of insurance that you don’t know you need it, until you need it”
Which, of course, I found extremely helpful (note sarcasm). And so I decided that for such a small amount of money I don’t expect much back. In fact, my expectations are so low that if anybody even answered the phone when an emergency happened I would think it was a minor miracle let alone anyone attending and even fixing the problem.
And so I have decided, it’s so cheap that I have to trial it. How can I not try it? At less than £5 per month it’s got to be worth a punt. And so I am treating my experiment with Landlord Home Emergency Cover like a little test case – as if I worked at Which Consumer Research magazine or something.
Has it provided me with peace of mind for the 25% of my properties I’ve insured? Well, at the very least, I have an emergency telephone number to give the tenant’s which is not mine…