10:12 AM, 10th January 2012, About 12 years ago 4
January heralds house insurance renewal month. Every year I promise to get excited about it, compare quotes and wallow for the next year in the knowledge that I’ve secured the most competitive deal.
The reality is, when the broker calls I groan with resignation and tell him just to get on with it. As he flicked through his computer information on my claim history, he came out with “Oooo, aren’t you a good client? You haven’t made any claims in the last 4 years so it’ll be easy to get you a good quote”.
“Excellent!” said I “And if I HAD claimed in the last 4 years I presume my quote would have risen to affect the amount paid out?”
“Well, yes, that can be a problem” he replied.
Me: “And that’s why I don’t claim. Find me a quote, don’t bore me with the details and just let me know the telephone number for when a house burns down”.
However, how many houses do actually burn down? With HMOs, we are rightly governed by so many fire risk assessments and regulations that, according to my recent chat with a man in uniform, “you can stand in the hallway for 30 minutes without a fire affecting you”. Great, so I’ve informed all tenants that, should a candle set light to the curtains or a cigarette get lost under the duvet cover, come out of the room calmly, stand in the hallway and enjoy the safety the firedoors, smokestrips and fire retardant plasterboard I give you.
Later, while walking the dog with a friend, we discussed, amongst school gossip and slow cooker recipes, the business of insurance. She asked that, if I’ve never made a claim, why bother with insurance? I explained that with HMOs there is ALWAYS the possibility of a fire. She counteracted with, “If your smoke alarms are hardwired and the fire station is round the corner, a fire wouldn’t have a chance to take hold”. Good point. As I weighed up the pros and cons another friend called during last week’s storm to say “A trampoline has blown in from next door’s garden, smashed a hole in my roof, broken the cold water tank and is currently wrapped around my chimney and I’ve just found out I’ve got to claim on MY insurance! Why the hell didn’t they peg the b****y thing down!”
So, it doesn’t matter how well maintained the house is, how many fire precautions are in place or how many baths you replace with showers to prevent flooding, are you willing to risk your cash on the odds of an unforeseen event happening which costs more than the insurance premiums?
On another note of insurance, the police turned up on Christmas Eve to take a statement following the case of Simon, his friend and the broken window. After checking that I hadn’t given permission for the perpetrator to chuck a flowerpot through the window in October, he gave me the crime number for “insurance purposes”. I laughed and said – “Unlikely, Officer!” We’ve settled for a community order whereby, should the police find the young man involved he’s under instruction to pay me the cost of the repair. The tenant said, “Sod that, I’ve already told his girlfriend I’m going to kick his head in when I next see him”.
Brilliant, case adjourned.