Top 10 things your insurance provider needs to know
Before you insure your property it’s important to give your provider as much information as possible, this is known as the duty of fair presentation. Here are the top 10 things we need to know about, to ensure we look after you properly if something goes wrong.
At Direct Line, we want to make sure our claim handlers are able to give you the best advice and process your claim efficiently, so here's the most important facts that we need to know.
1. Vacant property
Empty commercial properties are a popular target for vandals, arsonists and criminals, so we need to know if your tenant has moved out, in order to agree whether your insurance is still valid. Typically, if your property is empty from the start, we won’t be able to cover it.
2. Rebuild cost
Buildings insurance covers your property for the cost of rebuilding it, should extensive damage be caused, for example, by storm, fire or accident. A surveyor will be able to give you a current rebuild valuation, and do make sure you notify us of any increase over time, so we can adjust your insurance accordingly and make sure the true cost is covered (link to article on securing rebuild values)
3. Changes to ground rent charges
As part of our insurance of your commercial property, we’ll support you if something happens to the property and it means you can’t collect any ground rent, so make sure you notify us if you decide to increase ground rents at any stage.
4. Revised rent at time of renewal
Even if you increase your rent at renewal, it doesn’t necessarily mean we will increase your insurance cost, so it’s important to advise us, prior to renewal, of the revised ‘Rent Receivable’ for the next period of insurance.
5. Make sure your property is well maintained
No insurance company will pay out fully on a property regardless of condition, so it’s really important both to maintain the value of your commercial buildings and also to make sure you only claim when there really is a problem – not just to have normal wear and tear fixed.
Key things to check regularly are:
- Flat roofs: these should be checked by a competent roofer twice a year. If they make any recommendations, then these need to be implemented.
- Gas and electrics: if you’re responsible for any of these, according to the lease, it’s important to make sure they’re checked regularly, in addition to gaining the annual Gas Safe certification.
- Potential sources of leaks: one of the main claims we receive is damage caused by leaks from pipework, so make sure any old pipes, guttering and drains are kept in good condition and maintained on a regular basis.
- Locks: make sure your tenant is locking and properly securing your property, as failure to carry out the security measures outlined in your insurance policy can negatively impact any claim you make.
6. Extensions or building work to the property
If your property is undergoing any building or renovation work, you need to let us know in order to ensure that that your insurance is still valid. The property may be empty for some time and therefore at higher risk of vandalism and theft, or the structural changes could make the property more susceptible to storm or water damage.
7. Any change to risk level
It might be that when you first rent out and insure your property your tenant’s business is pretty risk free. However, as time moves on, you may end up with a tenant who stocks flammable items or uses hazardous chemicals on site. Higher-risk tenants are likely to affect your premiums, so check with us before you let the property to a new tenant to make sure you continue to be properly covered.
8. Change of address
Whether you change the property you are insuring or you change your own correspondence address, you must let us know immediately. Information contained in paperwork we send out can be used to steal your identity, so if we send it to an old address it could cause you all sorts of problems.
9. Other insurances
When we insure your property, we need to know about any other insurance you’ve taken out, for example, your water company might have offered you insurance for drains or you may have insurance that comes as standard with your lift or heating appliances. Once we know about other policies, we can then make sure we quote you properly for everything not currently covered.
10. Changes in finance, e.g. your mortgage
As your main insurer, if you change how you finance your property or shift your mortgage from one company to another, we need to know. This is because your mortgage company is what we call an ‘interested third party’. If something happens to reduce the value of your property, your mortgage lender will need to know and will be keen to be reassured that, as your insurer, we can help you return your property to its previous value.
We know insurance documents aren’t the most interesting reads, so our insurance experts are always on the end of the phone to help with any queries (link) and explain exactly what we need to know to ensure your insurance is always valid.