Public Liability Insurance for landlords and how to reduce the risk of claims. Stuart Saggers Packages Underwriting Manager

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1 Public Liability Insurance for landlords and how to reduce the risk of claims Stuart Saggers Packages Underwriting Manager

2 Landlords need Public Liability insurance as part of your insurance As a business owner, you must adhere to the laws, rules, and regulations that govern rental housing As a landlord you have a legal duty to provide safe accommodation for your tenants You have a duty to your tenants, to neighbours, and other lawful visitors to your property You could be liable for lawsuits that may arise because of injuries sustained as a result of unsafe conditions Prevention is key to protecting yourself as a landlord Home insurance does not cover you Insurers treat the risk differently It is no longer your home - you are not there to care for the property on a daily basis Home insurance does not protect landlords for claims made against you by tenants If your property is in a block of flats, your freeholder s buildings insurance may not cover your liabilities 2

3 Public Liability insurance The Public Liability element of Landlord insurance can be unfamiliar to landlords compared with buildings insurance Public Liability covers injury to other people and damage to third party property, where you have become legally liable, which could be caused by your negligence/failure to take proper care Only covers legal liability, not to be confused with any moral obligations you might feel you have to third parties Key part of landlord insurance (although not legally required) It is sometimes called Property Owners Liability, but it means the same thing Public Liability covers landlords for two types of claims 1. Injury to people e.g. slip/trip 2. Damage to third party property e.g. escape of water N.B Landlords still require buildings and/or contents cover, and Public Liability should come as standard with the policy 3

4 Injury to other people What does Public Liability insurance cover? Personal injury claims from incidents connected with your property, caused by your failure to take proper care. This includes: Your legal costs if we are defending the claim If you are found liable: The claimant s legal costs Special damages awarded to the claimant such as: Loss of earnings Future loss of earnings No one expects you to have catered for every eventuality, but things you reasonably can be expected to have dealt with Doesn t cover injury to employees covered separately by Employers Liability insurance, which is legally required (some exceptions) 4

5 Avoid common injury claims One third of our personal injury claims on Landlord insurance are caused by trips or falls down stairs We recommend all stairs have a handrail Make sure it is properly fitted and secure Keep an up-to-date maintenance record Check that stairways are adequately lit too Flooring, in particular carpets, commonly causes injuries Fraying carpets can cause trips, resulting in injuries such as whiplash, fractures and soft tissue damage Maintain all flooring in the property Don t forget pathways, patios, decking 5

6 Avoid common injury claims Cellar ceilings caving in on tenants Landlords can sometimes forget to maintain these areas Incidents cause both structural damage and injuries such as soft tissue damage to tenants Leaky washing machines and fridges causing slips on hard floors Shattering shower screens and cubicles Rubber washer perishes, leaving the metal screws bare, allowing them to vibrate and shatter the glass This can cause lacerations to tenants Consider a shower curtain instead if possible Otherwise, ensure the screen and fixtures are regularly inspected and maintained 6

7 Damage to third party property Public liability covers damage to third party property, where you have become legally liable, which could be caused by your negligence - failure to take proper care Third party claims from neighbouring houses and surrounding flats Damage to tenants contents when you are legally liable 7

8 Avoid common damage claims Escape of water is by far the most common cause of damage to third party property Half of all of our third party property claims are due to escape of water Most commonly affects flats underneath the property Can cause the ceiling to fall in on the neighbours below We have recently seen an increase in claims due to the rise in popularity of wet rooms Be sure to check and maintain grouting and bathroom seals We recommend that you: Show tenants where the stopcock is when they move in Encourage them to leave the heating on low when away on short breaks 8

9 Avoid common damage claims You may be surprised by how much water damage can cost Example 1 Tenants away on holiday over Christmas period Burst pipe discovered several days later Extensive damage to ceilings, walls, floors, electrical installation, fixtures and fittings Claim in excess of 60,000 Example 2 Burst pipe in attic resulted in water pouring through property (important to lag pipes) Extensive damage to ceilings, walls and flooring Claim in excess of 40,000 Example 3 Tenant away on holiday Burst pipe in loft Extensive damage Claim in excess of 50,000 9

10 Avoid common damage claims Damage to neighbouring property from falling: Roof tiles Chimneys Tree roots damaging neighbouring property Defective guttering causing leaks on next door s property 10

11 Minimise costly claims Carry out a risk/maintenance assessment: The first time you let the property Every time you re-let the property and then every three months thereafter Document your findings, and keep records of any maintenance work undertaken Ask tenants to tell you about any issues straight away Deal with any complaints/issues promptly within hours Keep records of this is an easy way to do this Give tenants a laminated guide to the property Location of stopcock Emergency contact numbers But accidents can still happen, and if they do, your Public Liability insurance can be there to help you 11

12 When accidents happen Your insurer will assess whether the incident/damage is covered by your insurance Then assess whether you are liable i.e. whether you have been negligent If you have been negligent, or are in some other way liable, they will arrange a settlement with the third party If they believe you haven t, they will defend the claim There to support you through the process and provide assistance for example our dedicated claims handlers can work with solicitors on your behalf from start to finish. We take ownership so you don t have to get tangled in legal discussions With regular checks to your property, and good communication with your tenants, hopefully you can avoid the most common claims, and keep yourself, your tenants and neighbours happy. 12

13 Thank you for listening QUESTIONS? Direct Line for Business Landlord Insurance Or complete a call-back card, and we can call you at your convenience 13

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