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FAQs on multiple property management

February 28, 2013

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Some of the following questions and answers might prove useful if you’re looking for ideas on multiple property management.

How can I simplify my insurance life across multiple properties?

Consider getting a property portfolio insurance quote.

Having all your insurance consolidated into the one policy and one provider should significantly reduce your administrative overhead.  It might also enable to you obtain a more attractive overall price per property on the basis that you’re buying more from the one provider.

It’s essentially a potential economy of scale benefit.

What are the pros and cons of a property management service?

If you’re trying to manage multiple properties, particularly if they’re geographically apart, then you’re probably spending a lot of time travelling between them.  You might also find that you’re frequently in the position of trying to be in two or more places at once.

A property management service can take a lot of the admin and logistical overhead off your shoulders, including things such as inventories and front-line tenant issue resolution.

Points to watch are that, of course, some companies might be better than others.

There is also cost involved.

How can I get other economies of scale?

It might be worth looking for a builder who will offer preferential rates if you give them first refusal on work across all of your properties, though that might be practically difficult if your locations are spread across a wide area.

You may wish to consider opening up an account at one of the larger DIY stores because if you’re regularly refreshing your properties then you might benefit from discounts for buying in bulk.

Similar approaches might yield benefits if you’re buying things such as appliances and furniture.

What happens if one of my properties sits empty?

Different property portfolio products might handle that situation differently.

Typically, cover for an unoccupied property will be maintained for up to around 30-45 consecutive days. After that period, your cover may lapse.

Your insurance provider should clarify the exact position for you.

Where can I find further advice on multiple properties?

In terms of cover, here at CIA Insurance we have considerable experience of multi property insurance and will be happy to discuss the matter in detail with you.

Some landlords’ associations might be able to provide further in-depth information on some of the non-insurance opportunities that might be open to you for things such as discounts through volume purchasing and property management companies etc.

 

 

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How can you identify the best landlords’ insurance quote for you?

February 26, 2013

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It would be perfectly understandable if you were determined to try and make sure that you had the maximum degree of protection available to you and your business.

That might lead you to search for the best landlords’ insurance quote you can find, however, how will you know it when you see it?  Here are a few points you might wish to think about:

  • price.  The most important thing here is to be cautious.  The price of a policy is rarely any significant guide as to its suitability or otherwise for your requirements.  The danger is that you might push on to the back burner, the serious consideration of the cover being provided due to the fact that you have become focused exclusively on what appears to be a low cost;
  • cover.  It might go without saying that it is important to be confident that a policy is going to provide you with the cover you need.  However, it is worth noting that some classic risks, that might once have been considered to be standard in landlords’ policies, are no longer necessarily so. You might, as a result, want to look out closely for whether or not your policy covers things such as subsidence and flooding etc.;
  • tenants.  These might well be your source of income but they also pose a significant potential risk to you.  Some policies might decline to offer cover for certain tenant categories including students and DSS etc. Not all policies might offer cover for malicious damage caused by tenants. It might be prudent to check in particular detail, just what your policy has to say on the subject of tenants and cover;
  • the Ts and Cs. The terms and conditions are important.  They may govern whether or not a future claim is likely to be successful or not.  It is essential that you are sure you are able to comply with any requirements placed upon you by the policy’s Ts and Cs.

In terms of recommendations and hearsay, try to remember that what might have been the best policy solution for another landlord, may not be an optimal solution for you and your unique business situation.

So, make the effort to look at a number of options of your own and to compare them against each other prior to deciding which the right one for you is.

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5 top tips on landlords contents insurance

February 19, 2013

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Although the subject of contents insurance may seem to be intuitively straightforward, in fact there are a number of things to consider when you are purchasing this type of cover:

  1. do you need it?  In some circumstances, it might be advisable to think twice whether it is actually cost-effective for you to purchase landlords’ contents insurance at all.  Classic examples might include situations where you were letting your house or flat unfurnished or where your furnishings and contents were relatively basic and of low value;
  2. what does it cover?  This is really just a general but important point relating to the significance of any insurance policy’s terms and conditions. For example, you might find that certain categories of contents are not covered at all and that is something you may want to know about in advance rather than after the event;
  3. are you pushing up the premium unnecessarily?  Certain categories of goods typically worry the providers of let property contents insurance, possibly including things such as high value entertainment systems, flat screen TVs, computers, electronic gadgets, antiques and designer-label furnishings. Even if the policy agrees to cover them, it might add significantly to the premium.  You may wish to question whether your business model makes it absolutely necessary for you to put these types of contents into your property;
  4. have you taken a full inventory?  It is all too easy to underestimate the value of contents and one way to avoid doing so is to take a full room-by-room inventory of all of your contents and allocate a value to them individually.  You should arguably be doing this anyway, as part of good landlord practice relating to inventories and tenancy agreements etc ;
  5. do all of your contents conform to legal requirements?  Remember that there are safety regulations governing things such as electrical appliances and portable fuel heaters as well as some furnishings etc.  If these have not met the requirements of safety checks then not only may they not be covered but they might easily invalidate significant components of your overall landlords’ insurance.

At CIA Insurance, we recognise that it isn’t always easy to form a strategy for the protection of your contents in a let property. That’s why we will always work with you to understand your exact situation and to try and help you identify the most appropriate way forward.

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Wondering whether you need an unoccupied property insurance quote?

February 7, 2013

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Some landlords occasionally express confusion as to whether or not they will require unoccupied property cover and under what circumstances.

When is a property unoccupied?

When you look at a typical landlords’ policy, you may see that it provides cover for unoccupied properties up to a specified maximum number of consecutive days.

The actual number used might differ between policies but broadly speaking, it is likely to be somewhere in the range of 30-45 days.

Once that period of time has elapsed, your property may become formally categorised by your insurance provider as being unoccupied. At that point, if you take no further action, your buildings and contents insurance may become invalid in full or part.

In order to maintain the protection of your asset, you may need to consider getting an unoccupied property insurance quote and then subsequently purchasing such cover.

Circumstances

It is worth noting that the above conditions are typically invariable.  They may apply in any circumstances where your property is unoccupied be that due to:

  • an unexpected and extended gap between tenancies;
  • your house or flat becoming bogged down in divorce or probate proceedings;
  • you are unable to let it as building work is underway; etc.

Note that there is no question in these conditions of any sense of control or fault.

Unoccupied cover requirements typically apply even if the circumstances prove to be entirely beyond your control.

Justification

There is a sound logic behind an insurance provider’s application of the unoccupied property rule.

Common sense and life experience should tell us that an unoccupied property is at significantly higher risk than one with occupants present.  Although the risks of things such as storm damage may not change at all, the potential problems arising from burglary, vandalism and cumulative damage due to problems going unnoticed (e.g. a leaking pipe) will clearly be higher if there are no tenants or occupants present.

For that reason, the provider of your policy may require a different form of cover to that normally associated with occupied premises.

Such cover may bring with it certain requirements to try and reduce the chances of other parties seeing that occupants are not present.  For example, you may be required to keep all external areas clean and tidy, avoid the accumulation of post and in some cases, put lights on timer switches.

 

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Looking for a buy to let insurance quote online

February 2, 2013

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Sometimes, online shopping can make things so easy that it becomes possible to forget some basic disciplines when selecting the product concerned.

In the case of looking for a buy to let insurance quote online, it’s worth keeping in mind the following points when you are trying to compare one against another – alternatively, please feel free to get in touch with us at CIA Insurance :

  •  don’t dive in head first.  Because the process is typically so easy, it becomes very tempting simply to click on the purchase button once you have the figures in front of you.  However, remember that the cover provided by a policy may be significantly different between providers and their sites.  As a result, make a point of looking at a number of options before making your final decision;
  •  read any documents referred to by the quotation.  Remember that a quotation might make the price it offers strictly dependent upon certain conditions and assumptions.  If you haven’t looked at the policy document itself and any other paperwork referred to by the quotation, you might not be sure that the price you are looking at will be your final price when you make your purchase;
  •  look at the terms and conditions.  This is directly linked to the above point but perhaps worth picking out individually.  The cover outlined by a policy and a quotation might be significantly modified or shaped by the associated terms and conditions.  If you are to be sure of the protection you are getting for your money and that it is suitable for your particular circumstances, you must take the time to study the terms and conditions carefully;
  •  try to check, independently, the customer satisfaction levels of the provider concerned.  Be cautious about customer testimonials offered on the site itself, as these might not always be entirely objective. Some insurance providers might, being realistic, be unlikely to publish customer reviews that were highly critical of the service received.  So, try to look at independent review sites.

At CIA Insurance we pride ourselves on being able to help our customers find suitable cover and at a cost-effective price. We would welcome your call to provide further information on the above and options that might be open to you.

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Can I claim any landlord energy allowances?

January 30, 2013

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You just might be eligible for what is called a landlords’ energy savings allowance.

Is the energy savings allowance still available?

At the time of writing (Jan 2013), yes it is.

You can find full details on the government’s own website*, which is extremely well-written and easy to understand.

Will it continue into the future?

That is impossible to say for certain, particularly given the current political objectives to reduce government spending.

What can be said is that existing government publications appear to refer to claims up to and including 2015.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that the scheme will continue to 2015 but it might indicate that for the time being, there are no obvious plans to axe it.

Would it reimburse me for any energy-saving measures I take?

No.

The scheme exists to make a tax-allowance contribution towards the costs of certain approved forms of energy saving measures.  Some steps will be considered valid and activities that you may be able to claim the allowance for, others might not be.

You will need to consult the regulations to be sure.

With all insurance providers reduce my premium if I take energy-saving measures?

It is perfectly possible to ask, however, the linkage between something such as improved loft insulation and your insurance premium, doesn’t appear obvious at first glance.

However, there are a number of steps that you can take that might typically reduce the cost of a buy to let insurance quote.

Examples might include increasing your security precautions around your property or opting for a higher voluntary excess etc.

Your insurance provider will typically be only too happy to offer further advice on this subject.

Why does the energy-saving allowance exist?

The UK government and European Union are committed to achieving a marked reduction in greenhouse gases and one way of achieving that is by significantly reducing our society’s energy consumption.

This measure is, broadly speaking, related to that objective.

Is the government saying I will save money?

This is a more complicated question than it might appear.

The government and many expert bodies will happily tell you that if you undergo energy-saving measures around your property, that you should expect your energy consumption and therefore energy expenditure to fall.

However, whether you will save money in real terms is more complex to define and needs to include consideration of something called the payback period.

If, for example, you have spent several thousands of pounds of your own money on property insulation and the net result is that you are saving £30 per month on your energy bills, simple mathematics might tell you that it is going to take you many years to recover the cost of your initial expenditure.

So, you may be saving money in the longer term but in the short term you may find that, financially speaking, you are worse off.

*Source:

https://www.gov.uk/landlords-energy-saving-allowance

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When it is time to look for let property insurance quotes?

January 26, 2013

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It might be easier than you think to unintentionally become a landlord.

Here are a few thoughts relating that idea to let property insurance quotes:

  • insurance providers typically make a very major distinction between owner-occupied properties and those being used for the purposes of income generation;
  • the actual definitions may vary but broadly speaking, if you and your family are exclusively occupying a property you own, then you may be termed an owner-occupier and require appropriate buildings and contents insurance;
  • by contrast, if you own a property and use it for the purposes of obtaining rental income, then by definition you are running a commercial operation and are no longer eligible for owner-occupier buildings and contents insurance;
  • for the avoidance of doubt, that typically applies irrespective of whether you continue to occupy part of the property concerned.  So, even if you are only letting out a few rooms in your house to students or holidaymakers during the season, you are by definition a landlord and may need to look closely at your buildings and contents insurance if you wish to avoid them becoming invalid;
  • the form of cover you will typically require in situations where you are obtaining income from property is landlords’ insurance.  That may come in a number of different shapes and forms which any reputable landlords’ insurance provider will be able to advise you further on;
  • these basic principles typically apply in situations where you are obtaining income from tenants whether residential or commercial;
  • note that if you are obtaining income from property you may also have issues to consider relating to taxation, health and safety plus compliance with any local government registration and licence schemes;
  • if you are changing the use of a property from exclusively that of being owner-occupied to one where it is generating rental income, it would be advisable to discuss the matter in advance with your insurance provider if you wish to avoid any possibility of your existing buildings and contents cover becoming invalid.

It might be worth concluding by making the point that insurance providers typically check the occupancy status of a property in the event of a claim.

This is not something that you’ll wish to be caught out on in such a context.

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When to think about an unoccupied property insurance quote

January 6, 2013

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There are a number of circumstances under which you may need to think carefully about the nature of your landlords insurance:

  • that might arise in circumstances where your property stands unoccupied for a period of consecutive days that exceeds the maximum allowed under the terms of your existing landlords policy;
  • in such circumstances, you might typically find that a standard policy would become invalid and you would have need of an unoccupied property insurance quote;
  • the reason that might be required is relatively straightforward.  Insurance providers typically regard unoccupied properties as being at higher risk, in certain respects, than those with occupants.  Obvious examples of increased risk might be things such as burglary, vandalism and unattended to problems causing damage to the property;
  • one of the key concepts underpinning the idea of unoccupied property cover is that of the absolute nature of the clause.  Although a typical standard landlords policy may offer a sufficient number of consecutive unoccupied protection days to cover things such as normal tenant holidays and changeovers, once the specified maximum number of days is passed then whatever the cause, your policy may still become invalid.

As a result of that, there are a significant number of situations within which you may need to be thinking seriously about unoccupied cover.  Just a sample of those might include your property sitting unoccupied due to:

  • building and redecoration work;
  • extended holidays or business trips on the part of you or your tenants, meaning the property is left standing unoccupied;
  • a house or flat conveyance becoming delayed due to things such as probate or divorce proceedings;
  • tenants failing to arrive on the expected date in order to take up their tenancy; etc.

Keep in mind that in the event of a claim, insurance providers may have methods of establishing the very precise occupancy position of a property at the time the incident took place.  As a result, it is not advisable to think that unoccupied cover is an unnecessary extravagance.

At CIA Insurance we have considerable expertise in all aspects of unoccupied properties and their insurance.  We would welcome the opportunity to offer you further advice on this subject.

 

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Being alert for scams

January 4, 2013

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There is something about the depths of winter that tends to bring out the con men and scammers of the world.

Yet another story* has surfaced of somebody being defrauded of very significant sums of money in what appears to have been, broadly speaking, a property scam.

In such situations, it is easy to sit back and think that we would never have been conned in such a fashion, yet the statistics might prove otherwise.  Even sophisticated and cynical people can be taken in by con men and their disgraceful activities, with the net result being an awfully large amount of your money being lost.

In the case of landlords insurance, a few basic precautions would always be sensible even though outright cons may be relatively unusual in that domain.

For example, even the providers of cheap insurance for landlords should be able to demonstrate that they are formally registered and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).  Details of their registration should be prominently displayed or provided upon request so that you are able to verify that they are a bona fide organisation directly with the FSA yourself.

Looking at testimonials on a provider’s website is useful but you should, of course, remember that these may be selective and not necessarily open to any customer who wishes to register dissatisfaction with the company concerned.  There are occasionally review sites where comments are left and these may be useful, however, remember again that people may leave intentionally over-complimentary or over-critical and unfair reviews of providers in such forums.

The recommendations of other landlords might be a valuable source of information relating to an insurance provider but while that may be valuable in overall terms of reputation, try to keep in mind that it might not mean that the solution that is suitable for another landlord is necessarily the best one for you.

In reality, the opportunities for scams in terms of providing landlords insurance may be relatively limited.  Ultimately the sums involved in paying a premium should be relatively modest and it is difficult to see how an insurance provider to policy holder relationship could be significantly abused.

Having said that, crooks are notoriously inventive and intelligent.  It always makes sense to keep your wits about you and in terms of dealing with organisations, to make sure you have verified via other independent sources that the company concerned is one that has a track record going back some time.

It is sad that such steps are necessary but it is the world we inhabit today.

 

*Source:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-20781519

 

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The potential benefits of a property portfolio insurance quote

January 2, 2013

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There might be a number of reasons why it might be in your best interests to find out more about property portfolio insurance:

  • having multiple properties brings with it considerable responsibility and the need to invest significant amounts of your time in managing them;
  • it might also bring with it considerable expense in a number of areas, including your landlords insurance. That is an area where many landlords might wish to economise where possible;
  • yet it may also provide you with an opportunity because a property portfolio insurance quote might enable you to kill two birds with one stone;
  • the first big attraction is, it might work out to be more cost-effective for you than having a number of individual property policies. That is because by covering all of your properties on one policy through a single insurance provider, you are effectively able to exercise greater commercial leverage than if you are buying multiple individual policies with individual providers;
  • the second plus point is that it may considerably simplify your dealings with insurance providers because there will only be one involved, with one renewal date to remember.  That may reduce your administration overheads and allow you to spend rather more time where you wish to – i.e. in running your business not in managing your insurance;
  • at CIA Insurance we have considerable expertise in property portfolio cover and will be only too happy to share our knowledge further with you;
  • in order to be eligible for this type of policy, you may need to meet certain conditions including a minimum number of properties. Those conditions may vary from one provider to another and need to be looked at carefully to be sure that you are able to comply.

Of course, as is the case with any other form of property cover, it might make sense to compare your property portfolio quote to a number of individual policy options, in order to establish to your own satisfaction that it represents the best route for you going forward.

Given the potential benefits and savings involved, such a comparison would be an investment of time that is likely to prove to be well spent.

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