We’re partnered with Alan Boswell Group to provide a Rent Guarantee product to our letting agents. Alan Boswell is one of the largest insurance brokers in the UK. We spoke to Adam Weedon-Luck, who works in their Landlords and Letting Agents team and looks after the Rent Guarantee department, to find out more about how our insurance product fared during 2020.
Watch the video for the interview, alternatively you can read the transcribed conversation below.
I’ll let you start off by explaining a little bit more Alan Boswell, what do you do and what insurance do you provide?
I work for Alan Boswell Insurance brokers, we’re one of the largest independent insurance brokers in the UK. Alan Boswell started the business in 1982, and Alan Boswell is still part of the group today, so very visible within the company and we now employ around 350 staff members across 7 branches in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire. Our head office is based in Norwich, which is where the legal and Rent Guarantee and Landlord insurance is mainly done.
We have over 80,000 clients across commercial insurance, personal insurance, risk management and wealth advice but we specialise in Property Owners and Landlords Insurance. I have personally been with the company for the last 11 years, I have worked in various different departments; Personal Lines, Private Clients, Landlords, but at the moment I am part of the letting agents team, and we deal with introducers, Rent Guarantee etc.
Specifically for landlords, what insurance do you offer for them?
We have a wide offering of products for our landlords to ensure they are fully covered for any eventuality. The main policy for all landlords is obviously the landlord’s property insurance and that’s what every landlord should really have. Ours is award-winning and it includes accidental damage cover, malicious damage by tenants and that includes cannabis farms, which can be a very expensive claim if anyone’s ever had that before.
We do 90-days full cover between tenancies as well, so if a tenant moves out and you’ve got a little gap before another tenant moves in you’ll be fully covered in that period as well. We also include fixtures & fittings automatically, some companies will want you to include contents to have those fixtures & fittings, but ours is automatically included in the buildings which will help to save some money on the quote. We’ve got a price-beater guarantee on our landlord’s insurance as well, meaning we can guarantee to beat your existing renewal. A couple of terms and conditions apply - it can’t have subsidence or near a flood area, but we have good policies for those as well. Because we’re a broker we work with many different companies, so it’s not a case of if it doesn’t fit we won’t do it, we’ll have different options.
As well as the landlord’s insurance we have some additional products to help, we’ve got the Rent Guarantee insurance, Legal Expenses, Home Emergency and we can also do an Excess Protect cover. This cover is backed up by our Platinum-Trusted Service award from Feefo, so you know you’ve got some good quality staff members to speak to. As a general insurance broker we can also cover landlords for their own home insurances, travel and car insurances as well.
Swinging back to Rent Guarantee, how would you say yours differs from others in the market?
So for our Rent Guarantee cover, if I talk about the standard covers to start with, we will cover you for the legal expenses up to £100,000 and we also cover the rental payments for up to 6 months at up to £2500 a month, the policy has no excess so you’ll be covered on day 1.
What makes us different though is some rent guarantee providers will require a monthly subscription to them; we have no costs involved in that, it’s purely just the cost of the policy. We’re also quite good at referrals as well, we’re not black and white about it, we have a good relationship with our underwriters so we’ll be able to look at tenants on benefits, tenants coming from abroad and any other unusual cases you may have. We won’t just say “no, we’re not going to do it”, we will look to cater to everybody.
What would you say are the biggest changes and the biggest challenges you faced?
Covid was obviously a tricky situation for everybody, not just us in insurance but worldwide everyone had problems with Covid, and as I said it hit the insurance industry as well. We did have to stop taking new business just for a couple of weeks just to evaluate where we were, but we did maintain cover throughout the whole period for our existing customers so they could always get their policies enforced. Upon that we’ve seen an increase in claims and unfortunately costs have had to go up as a result of the Covid situation. We’re hoping that’s not going to be a permanent thing and we’ll see the prices come back down again.
As part of Covid though we have managed to increase cover so we now include mediation in the policy. So instead of previously where it was just a case of the tenant defaulted, section 18 was issued and tenants evicted, we now look to work with landlords and tenants to try and keep them in the property as well.
What would you say are some of the main threats facing the sector now?
Our biggest challenge at the moment is that the government is coming in with lots of different legislations to understandably protect tenants from becoming homeless, nobody wants to see anybody homeless at the moment. But it’s also making it very difficult for landlords to run their businesses because they’ve obviously got their own responsibilities, mortgage payments they’ve got to meet.
This is one of the challenges with us as well, so the eviction ban has caused us issues with being able to issue section notices and getting the properties back in the landlord’s hands. We’re working hard with our underwriters to ensure the policy is still relevant and meets the best interests of our landlords. Behind the scenes we are working hard to get covers reinstated. So the biggest issues are government legislation and what changes they may make, I think we’ve got more changes coming up in May with regard to mental health.
What is one final piece of advice you would give to landlords now?
It’s really important to speak to an expert about your insurance policies. Internet prices do look attractive but often have reduced cover with higher excesses, so it’s good just to bounce ideas off a professional insurance broker. Even if you’re not taking the policy, just so that you know what you need to be covered for.
Most insurance brokers like ourselves will have a claims team to help fight your corner so when you do have a claim you’re not left trying to figure everything out yourself; that’s quite important to have as well. We’re backed up by company reviews like Feefo and Which? Magazine has just rated our landlord’s product the best. Speak to somebody instead of just getting a quote online because you might not always be getting what you’re buying.
To find out more about the Rent Guarantee product we provide, visit rentprofile.co/rent-guarantee.