According to data from Direct Line for Business, a 36% rise in claims for faulty boilers occurred last year caused by the aftermath of the 'Beast from the East'.
The record number of claims between December and February as temperatures fell as low as −11°C in some parts of the UK, marked the sixth consecutive year in which the volume of insurance claims for faulty boilers has risen.
Following the warmest February on record, March has seen snowfall in parts of the UK and storms Gareth and Hannah wreak havoc across Britain. Direct Line for Business is advising landlords that prevention is better than cure, warning they shouldn’t be complacent when it comes to maintaining their properties’ heating systems. The winter months last year accounted for 81% of the entire year’s boiler claims and the cost of repairing a faulty boiler currently stands at about 60% more than the average UK monthly rent.
Sarah Larkin, Business Manager at Direct Line for Business said: “Last winter the Beast from the East and Storm Emma caused substantial damage to UK properties, contributing to a two-year high of £1.25 billion paid by insurers. While Brits have enjoyed an unseasonably warm February, March has already seen a sharp fall in temperature and unsettled conditions, so to prevent being caught out landlords should ensure that their properties all have fully serviced and insured boilers.
Landlords are legally responsible for securing a safety certificate for gas appliances each year and they also need to ensure the heating and hot water systems are maintained and functioning properly. Direct Line for Business provides boiler breakdown cover as standard with buildings insurance. As long as the damage is not a maintenance issue or due to wear and tear, we’ll pay the cost of repairing, or if repair is not possible, then replace the broken boiler. We’ll also pay for additional portable heaters to help tenants try and stay warm while the issue is being fixed.”
Direct Line for Business has put together the following top tips for landlords:
1: Keep your heating on low:
Sudden cold temperatures can freeze your boilers external condensate pipe, which could cause your boiler to stop working. Insulating the pipes can help as well as keeping the heating on constantly but low when it’s very cold.
2: Bleed your radiators:
If your property isn’t getting as warm as you think it should be, there may be air trapped inside the heating system. Releasing air from the system is simple but you will need a key which can slot into the radiators bleed valve. If you still have a problem after doing this, you may need to call in the professionals.
3: Keep your boiler maintained:
Make sure you service your boiler and keep it maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Check regularly for any warning signs such as leaks, cracks or noises as the sooner you can identify a problem, the easier it will be to fix.
4: Turn off services when property is unoccupied:
If you have an unoccupied property for an extended period, you may want to consider draining the water system and switching the utilities off. However, if it's in the winter months, when frost might occur, then keeping your central heating system on at a minimum temperature can help prevent frozen pipes. It is important to understand that insurers will have specific terms and conditions that apply if the property is unoccupied for an extended period so check your policy to make sure that you understand and comply with these.