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Thank God for insurance

October 28, 2009

So often we complain about insurance and see it as yet another expense – I am also guilty of that. In November I am due to renew again and as a portfolio landlord this is always an expensive time of year when I think about how I would rather have a new car or Caribbean cruise rather than paying my insurance…

Until last Sunday 25 October 2009 when I was woken at 6.45am by the fire brigade to inform me one of my tenants flats was on fire. Luckily, everybody got out OK and nobody was injured. The flat – it was beyond recognition. It was amazing the girl got out alive.

Once I heard everybody was OK I was then incredibly worried about the cause of the fire – I worried that maybe wiring I had supplied, a microwave I had bought or something I had done was at fault. It scared the living daylights out of me.

As it was – it was nothing to do with me and I could not have foreseen or prevented my tenants actions: she had run out of electric on her credit meter and so got approx 40 tea light to light the flat. She put them on the carpet, furniture and in the bathroom.

Out of the above who would guess that it was the bath that caused the fire! Baths are made of fibreglass and if you leave a tealight burning on it long enough it goes BOOM! I have seen the remains of the bath – it had to be pointed out to me as I thought it was a birds nest!

Seeing the damage caused was very upsetting – at the end of the day I have owned the property for a number of years and while I do not live in it myself I liked the property enough to warrant buying it all those years ago.  It is very strange to see everything black, charred and covered in soot. On top of this the smoke damage to the rest of the building, communal areas and other flats is unbelievable.  The property looks bad and is SO dark. But the smell is nothing like I have ever experienced [and never want to again].

Luckily for me, we have adequate buildings insurance and the loss adjustor has been a star. I really cannot big him up enough – not just for the professional way in which my claim has been handled – but also for being an emotional crutch. You do not realise how vulnerable you feel until an event like this happens. He has been remarkable and I am very grateful.

I have yet to speak to the tenant to ascertain if she has insurance for her contents. Her’s were minimal as we were providing fully furnished accomodation. If she did have they would have paid for her to live elsewhere and replace her belongings.

Insurance is there for a reason. If I did not have insurance – right now I do not know what I would do. The bill for chemically clearing the smoke damage just to the communal areas runs into thousands…that is even before I have even got to the rebuild of the flat.  When you take into account  everything we have to do – my insurance premium is small fry by comparison – although I know my renewal premium will be going up next time [but not by too much I hope!]

Make sure you are adequately covered – Bringing people & property together

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