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Better, Best, Boswells


What is better than best? Grammatically one would argue that best cannot be bettered, but as landlords, we suggest that the English language be changed to show that the new order has Boswells as better than best!

Why, well apart from all the awards and our longstanding endorsement – PDPLA chairman's wife, Karen, has decided to pay £800 more than competitors to insure the family property portfolio with Boswells. 

Why Insure?

As a landlord, if you do not have a mortgage on a property, you do not need to insure – we do not recommend it unless you have considerable funds and are willing and can afford to demolish and rebuild the property should the worst occur.

If you have a mortgage, the lender will insist on insurance, and you probably think the cheapest offer is all you need to comply with the lender requirement. For some this will be the case.

However, for most landlords, what they are buying is insurance against the worst-case scenario. With a £1,000 excess in place and having accepted that wear and tear is part of the cost of doing business, we are not going to claim on the insurance if the tenants dog trashes the curtains or a blocked gutter causes a patch of damp in a bedroom. What we do worry about is the malicious tenant who refuses to leave or pay rent, who then makes as much damage as possible on the day he leaves or the damaging fire that leaves the property uninhabitable and the tenants homeless. 

Victoria Road South – How Not To Do It

Cracking on the side wall of the Victoria Rd South property - further back, the wall has collapsed completely and you can see into the building

Apparently, tenants and neighbours had complained about the end wall of the house bowing and cracking to both the landlord and PCC – sadly neither did anything.

The landlord is not a member but is known in the city for his lack of concern for his properties or his tenants – apparently after the side wall of the house fell down and before the fire service looked at it and deemed that the whole property was at risk of collapse and no one should go in there, he told tenants to 'sleep in the other room', did not go to inspect the extent of the damage and did not bother to call his insurance company in the couple of days following.

You would have thought PCC would have jumped in with a defective premises order or an Emergency Prohibition Order, but sadly and as usual, protecting tenants and keeping housing in the city safe and available does not seem to be a priority.

But anyway – a good landlord with a comprehensive Landlord Insurance policy such as Boswells would not have the hassle of finding alternative homes for the tenants or getting surveys and repairs organised, although of course a good landlord would want to be involved and have the final say on all these points.

Our Endorsement

 We have long advised members to insure their properties with Boswells. Most members realise that we are little interested in profit as an Association and endorsement from us is only ever because we have evaluated a product or service and feel comfortable recommending it for members.

Yes – when a member uses Boswells, we get a slice of Boswells marketing budget proportionate with that sale, but this does not alter the members premium and if we did not have this income, we would simply increase members annual subscription – so from our perspective, we do not benefit from this arrangement but those members who use Boswells subsidise those who do not.

Our endorsement is 2-fold. Firstly, every time we have evaluated Boswells policies they have always been '5-star' comprehensive policies and secondly, whenever a member has needed to claim, the feedback has been very positive.

Most know the story of our former chair whose student tenant ignored the fire alarms and was then surprised by the fire crew breaking into his room and dragging him out of the house which subsequently cost upwards of £60,000 to refurbish – all paid for, arranged and managed quickly by Boswells as the fire was covered by the insurance.


 There are awards and there are awards – search google for the 'best…' and you will get a lot of adverts and promotional hits but finding genuine reviews or analysis is hard – particularly with financial products like insurance.

We like Which Magazine / The Consumer Association as their reviews are based on scientific analysis and member input, so we put a lot of store in their awards.

In this case, Which experts rated 117 different aspects of landlord insurance policies, including their coverage of issues such as subsidence and malicious damage, to calculate the policy scores. They also asked 872 landlords how satisfied they were with their insurance provider, and the likelihood of recommending the provider in the future.

The net of their analysis – 3 of the top 4 policies were offered by Alan Boswell Group and one of them (Boswells policy underwritten by NIG) was rated a 'Best Buy'.

Chairmans Wife's View

 Insurance brokers spend a lot of time and money trying to win business – we constantly have people asking when our policy is up for renewal as they would like to 'better the offer'. This year, as we do periodically, we entertained one of these approaches, we shared the policy renewal details from Boswells and stated we needed exactly the same cover – malicious damage by tenants, cover when the property was empty, etc and let the broker loose on the market on our behalf.

He came back after several days with a proposal which was £800 cheaper than Boswells and an assurance that it was 'like for like'.
Here is Karen Silman's view of that offer:

"Why use Boswells? This is a question I ask myself periodically, as we spend quite a chunk of money paying for their policies.

Every 2/3 years I brace myself for the very tedious, time-consuming operation involved in getting alternative quotations and comparing them.
The quotation I was comparing Boswells with was quite a bit cheaper (£800) – they had even added malicious damage when asked BUT only up to the value of 10k. If one of our tenants is going to trash the place, it will come to considerably more than 10k.
Plus, if the property is going to be empty between lets – there's no 90 days full insurance cover as with Boswells – with the alternative insurer we would need to close off all utilities and fully inspect our property once a week keeping a written record of our findings. Paragraph from my insurance quote (not Boswells).

"For unoccupied buildings you must ensure that: a) the gas, electricity (other than power required for an intruder alarm or fire alarm system) and water supplies are turned off at the mains and all water pipes, apparatus and tanks are drained down; b) all devices for preventing access to the building(s) are in full and effective operation at all times; c) the premises and yards are clear of all waste materials and redundant contents; d) all accessible windows and doors are securely boarded over (not applicable to residential properties); e) the letter box is permanently sealed shut or a non-combustible receptacle is permanently fixed to the letter box; f) the premises are inspected at least once a week by a responsible person to ensure that there is no deterioration in the fabric of the building and that compliance with conditions a) - e) continues. A breach your duty with complying with conditions a) –f) could invalidate your right to indemnity or payment in respect of a claim."

The upfront approach of Bowell's – see below – details the 4 main reasons why so many of us who belong to the PDPLA, take out insurance with Boswells – plus there is the added bonus that the commission gets paid to the PDPLA.

"We believe that our Property Owner's insurance remains competitive and offers comprehensive cover, including:
• Accidental damage cover automatically included
• Malicious damage by the tenant automatically included
• Property owners liability limit of £5 million
• Up to 90 days full cover between tenancies"

Hearing from fellow landlords how supportive Boswells are when things do go wrong and you need to call on them, even in extreme cases like a property burning down, Yes, I've paid more and gone with Boswells again for the peace of mind."
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