Tenants and Contents Insurance problem
We had a call from the tenants of a thatched property who were struggling to find contents insurance after their current insurer decided not to carry on with thatched properties. It was an interesting call to understand the problems they were encountering as we usually have calls from property owners.
The problem of getting contents insurance stemmed from it being assessed as both a flood risk and being thatched but these tenants were not easily put off. When they came back to us with an explanation of their conversations with underwriters and their story we were pleased at their offer to share it with us. Although this blog is not promoting an individual insurance company, we can say that shopping around paid off and ultimately they ended up with insurance cover as well as a considerable saving on the previous year. An excellent result due to perseverance.
Contents insurance story
“We had a real nightmare as we are both a flood and thatch risk, that coupled with the landlords not having the proper information and because it wasn’t a legal requirement wouldn’t have it done, was unbelievable! Hence why we bit the bullet and got it done ourselves.
We spoke to many underwriters and even though it is not legal requirement they look for the following in regards to thatch:
Electrical Safety every 3 years (normally every 5)
Thatch report, inc. depth, repair and ridge status every 5 years
Must have smoke alarms on every floor including roof space
Spark arrestors if fitted must be cleaned and checked every 3 months (on a maintenance program)
Chimneys swept every year
Any used chimneys must be double lined
Only wood to be used in wood burners (coal apparently makes them burn too hot risking the thatch)
Must have 1 fire extinguisher on each floor (kitchen on ground floor) and fire blanket in the kitchen (in Date and serviced)
Once we got the ones in italics in place, most mainstream insurance companies that cover thatch would insure our contents inc. flood cover (even though the garden flooded in 2013!) It a reasonable rate In the end we went with insurance company X which was £380 for £75K worth of cover on a 4 bed property. We had paid nearly £900 the year before so we were happy with our efforts. We only had this problem as the previous insurer decided not to carry on with thatch properties.
Note though – insurance company Y which actively advertise Thatch (and who our land lords have their building insurance) wouldn’t touch us and are not taking any new thatch policies. The other thing I would say is talk to the underwriters, not do it through a website as each of them often have slight differences in the requirements
If this helps anyone please feel free to pass the info on as we would hate others to struggle.
Contents insurance – The Chimney
“The other one is that they also like the Chimney to be over 1.8M over the top of the roof, again one of those subtle differences insurances want. We did this by looking round the property to find brick work and mortar taking measurements of depth in a few places so we got an average of both. We then took a digital photo of the roof blowing up the photo, used the photograph to count the number of brick and no of levels of mortar and multiplying it by the averages calculated to get the height of the Chimney
This saved a lot of heart ache as the owner would not allow us to put Scaffold up (damage to roof, even though it would render her property un-insurable) and cost even though we did not ask her to pay it was going to be a few hundred pounds”
Thatched contents insurance and other information
May thanks to Vicky Easton for her contribution to the Thatch Advice Centre. We cannot know everything but are happy to share information from our friends which will benefit our thatched owners and tenants. Here is a link to our Thatch Directory and insurers page
If you have any similar thatch information or stories we are happy to receive and report on them if relevant.