You’d think it would be tenants who fail to pay rent or leave a mess — but water damage is a far costlier problem for landlords.
A review of QBE insurance data showed damage from leaky pipes, floods or storms accounted for more than half of the recent claims submitted by landlords.
Storm and flood damage alone accounted for 34 per cent of national claims, while “escape of liquid”, which included damage from faulty pipes, leaks or problems with water supply, comprised 21 per cent of claims.
Defaults on rent payments accounted for a much lower proportion of landlord claims at just 12 per cent, while theft accounted for 10 per cent of claims.
Another 6 per cent of landlord claims were the result of electricity problems.
QBE chief customer officers Frank Costigan said water damage was often preventable.
“We can’t avoid severe weather events, but landlords can take steps to minimise the damage caused from the most common types of claims by keeping on top of property care and general maintenance,” Mr Costigan said.
“Preventive steps, such as replacing old flexi hoses can help manage a ‘escape of liquids’ claim, and ensuring gutters are clean can help to avoid storm damage and hopefully avoid the inconvenience of having to claim at all.”
Replacing flexi hoses was a particularly easy, but often overlooked, method to prevent water damage.
More than 30,000 claims for water damage in the year to April last year were due to the failure of the braided flexible hoses normally found underneath kitchen sinks, the Insurance Council of Australia reported.
The claims for these failures were estimated at over $320 million, with damaged cupboards and flooring making up the bulk of the costs.
QBE head of short tail claims Arron Mann said a simple check of the braided hoses normally revealed if there was a problem.
“Not many people are aware of this, but they are only designed to last five to 10 years,” he said. “When they eventually burst they have the potential to flood your house with water and cause extensive damage.”
He added that the hoses usually had expiry dates on them. The hoses usually cost less than $50 to replace.
Australia’s most costly natural disaster, in terms of insurance claims, remains the storm that hit Sydney’s eastern suburbs in April 1999. It caused $1.5 billion in damage within an hour, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
Mr Costigan said landlord insurance usually included protection for loss of rent if the property could not be lived in, but advised property owners to check their policy.
“Policies may differ between insurers so it’s really important to read the product disclosure statement.”