What is Home Emergency Insurance?

The buy to let boom of the 1990s created hundreds of thousands of amateur landlords, whom saw investing in rental property as an alternative to traditional pension. Today there are still huge number of landlords with one or two properties, which they let out for investment purposes. most will use a local letting agent to deal with all the management aspects of dealing with tenants and maintain the property. In particular when things go wrong with the building, tenants first port of call is usually the letting agent. However many amateur landlords choose to manage the let themselves, and have to deal with any emergency repairs to do with their buy the property.

Insurance companies recognised this trend and have developed a series of home emergency insurance policies, designed to ensure the policyholder against specific events. this takes all of the worry and stress away from the amateur landlord when having to deal with emergency repairs, and passes it to the insurance companies emergency response teams. So home emergency insurance policies provide real peace of mind, particularly if you live many miles away or overseas. Most landlords also have a day job, and most don't really want to be bothered by tenants (justifiable) but frantic phone calls, to deal with emergencies. For example it might mean stopping their day job to find an emergency plumber who can come out instantly.

The range of policy covers for home emergency policies is quite broad, and varies from policy to policy . The main categories are as follows:-

  • Breakages or breakdowns of gas boiler systems
  • Broken or leaking pipes
  • Plumbing problems caused by leaking pipes or blocked drains or toilets
  • Electricity supply failures
  • Central heating system failures
  • Broken windows or doors, presenting a security issue at the property
  • Loss of keys to the property
  • A leaking roof caused by storm damage
  • Emergency accommodation cover for the tenant

Depending upon which organisation is marketing home emergency policy, you may need to check the levels of cover service provided. For instance many utility energy companies have now started selling these types of policies directly themselves. however most of the time you will find that are either emergency policies sold as an additional on to the buy to let insurance policy, (primarily designed to insure the building).

Although most landlords want to keep their annual letting overheads low, the annual cost home emergency policy can actually make cost savings, when things do go wrong. Some policies are set out that in the event of a problem, the tenant calls the emergency helpline directly, and not the policy holder (landlord). This takes away the hassle the landlord and provides some comfort that any contractors void will be properly vetted and approved by the insurance company already. so the landlord has some security in the knowledge that only proper professionals are being employed to fix their investment property, and not some cowboy outfit that could make things worse. As the landlords the policyholder, the bill from the tradesperson will go directly to the insurance company and not the landlord. This avoids the hassle of sorting out payment and worrying about cash flow problems.

Home emergency policies are limited to events which occur at the risk address. Each insurance company will define exactly what is an emergency. For instance if the boiler breaks down in the middle of winter, you would expect that to be covered under the policy. However you should always check the policy wording to see what constitutes an emergency, as each peril will described in detail, I with any exclusions to the policy. if the telephone help lines for tenants to call, you should make sure that they understand upon what basis they allowed to do so. To avoid any confusion the policy document provided to you will list what the insurer deems to be an emergency. You should study this most carefully along with the Key Fats document outlining the more salient points of the contract.