Weatherbys Hamilton Rural Newsletter
theSpecialist In this issue: Natural Capital:
John Innes Centre:
A very precious asset
The ultimate pop-up sport
The secret world of plants
Outlook Understanding the challenges to farming and estate practices
the Specialist Spring 2021
Welcome to our Spring 21 edition of the Specialist. Seldom can a change in the seasons have been more anticipated. The enforced hibernation of the past winter means that we are going to revel in the return of simple pleasures more than ever. There is every reason to hope that money will ﬂood back through the economy as that much vaunted dam of savings breaks and with it the resurgence of many rural businesses. We are looking forward more than anything to meeting our clients again in person and please do contact us if there is anything that we can help you with in the coming months.
Charles Hamilton Chief Executive
the Specialist Spring 2021
Holidays – a year for staycations
With the continuing uncertainty on foreign holidays and the potential for ﬁnes or quarantining for those that do go abroad, the demand for the ‘Great British Summer Holiday’ has never been higher. Reportedly, 71% of British holidaymakers are intending to holiday in the UK with self-catering being the accommodation of choice.1 According to the BBC, the website Independent Cottages saw a 300% increase in enquires compared to the ﬁrst lockdown last year. 2 With interest clearly outstripping availability, some may feel that this is the ideal time to make some extra money by letting out the family home or repurposing a second home or rental property to capitalise on the summer boom. However, there are not only Covid regulations to consider on having paying guests stay in your home but there are also insurance implications. Unfortunately, you can’t just assume that your household insurer will automatically cover your property whilst it is let out, regardless of whether it is on a formal or informal basis. You must tell your insurer if there is any change in occupancy. A let property, even if it is just for a couple of days, is deemed by insurers to be higher risk. The risk of accidental or malicious damage, theft, or a public liability claim heighten when you let your home out and so your insurer is likely to apply speciﬁc terms to mitigate its exposure.
For example, Aviva automatically exclude accidental damage caused by paying guests whilst a house is let out because their research has shown that 60 per cent of owners have experienced an incident in such circumstances.3 By not telling your insurer you potentially jeopardise your insurance cover altogether, so it is important to notify them as soon as you plan to do this. For whatever reason some insurers have a real aversion to Airbnb and if this is the case it may be worth considering alternatives such as HomeAway, One Fine Stay, Unique Homestays or renting it out privately via word of mouth. Whatever the medium you still need to let your insurer know what you are doing in advance.
TO FIND OUT MORE WHY NOT GET IN TOUCH: firstname.lastname@example.org 07827 297072
1. https://www.propertyinvestortoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2021/2/staycation-boom-is-it-time-to-invest-in-the-ukholidayproperty-market 2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55826646 3. https://www.independent.co.uk/money/staycation-rent-home-travel-summer-insurance-holiday-tax-b1799594.html
the Specialist Spring 2021
Trustee indemnity – essential insurance A trustee is responsible for managing assets that have been settled in trust for the beneﬁt of others. It goes without saying that they must manage the trust in the beneﬁciaries’ best interests and in accordance with the terms of the trust. Importantly, trusts are not legal entities that can be sued, or sue; it is the trustees who are personally liable for the actions they take. In our view it is imperative that trustees take out Trustee Indemnity insurance. Often trustees are family members, godparents or friends of the family, rather than being professional trustees. The number of times we hear “we don’t need to have Trustees Indemnity insurance as we won’t ever fall out” is, quite simply, too many. The number of insurers prepared to offer the cover has shrunk dramatically in the last two years because of the high number of expensive claims, evidence if it was needed that the cover really is essential. Unfortunately families do fall out and the fall outs can be messy, with the trustees often caught up in the middle. They can be sued for such things as unfair distributions, errors in accounting or mismanagement of assets. An example of the latter was a claim brought against trustees in respect of a large house that burnt down 20 years after it was put into a trust. When making the claim it became apparent that the house was underinsured to the tune of 50%. The shortfall in claims proceeds amounted to £2m and the beneﬁciaries successfully sued the trustees as they had failed to obtain a professional valuation and ensure that there was adequate insurance in place.
There will often be a professional trustee, a solicitor or accountant perhaps, who may have cover under their company’s professional indemnity insurance for the work they do as a trustee, but many companies and insurers are tightening up on this and it is important they check that it is the case. However, whatever happens this cover will not extend to the lay trustees and they will not have protection unless they organise it themselves. What does a Family Trust Indemnity policy typically protect against? • It covers past, present and future claims against the trustees and also, importantly, it should cover the trust itself • Often when a claim is made against a trustee any resulting payment may be met from the trust’s assets, potentially draining them, and for this reason it is important that there should be no insured vs insured exclusion in the policy • The policy should cover any wrongful act or breach of trust, defence costs and protection of the trustees’ personal assets • Most importantly a potential claim needs to be reported to the insurer within the period of insurance in which it ﬁrst manifests itself. If the renewal of a policy is 1st April and a claim was ﬁrst intimated on the 1st March, delaying until after the renewal to report it will prejudice it and is why insurers require a proposal form and a no claims declaration before each renewal The executors and administrators of wills and estates have a very similar exposure to those of trustees and we urge all those who are responsible for other people’s assets to check the insurance position before agreeing to take on the role.
TO FIND OUT MORE WHY NOT GET IN TOUCH: email@example.com 07966 030832
the Specialist Spring 2021
Natural Capital – a very precious asset Natural Capital is a term that we read about more and more and for good reason. The demands that we are placing on land in the UK means that we are depleting this critical resource at an alarming rate and the effect on biodiversity is extreme and well reported. Consequently, the forthcoming Environment Bill is set to ensure that in future all development will be required to demonstrate a 10% uplift in biodiversity. Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) can come in a number of different shapes and sizes but is simply put as “development that leaves biodiversity in a better state than before”. In some situations the required biodiversity uplift can be incorporated within the development site, but a better ﬁnancial return can often be achieved by co-opting nearby agricultural land to achieve the gain, thus creating an opportunity for farmers and land owners. The advantage to land owners who go down the route of setting up a ‘habitat bank’ is that they are then in a position to sell multiple biodiversity units to multiple developers, receiving a one-off payment each time in return for a 30 year management contract. This is one example of where private sector investment can improve the quality and quantity of Natural Capital. Another opportunity to consider is the creation of woodland. Trees have an unparalleled ability to sequester carbon, which can then be traded, and this is a typical route taken for off-setting CO2 emissions in the UK. The polluter’s emissions are calculated and then off-set by planting sufficient trees to restore the natural capital balance to a net zero. Whilst woodland creation is the most common, peatland restoration is also a fantastic mechanism for sequestering carbon and the Peatland Carbon Code provides assurance to buyers that the climatic beneﬁts of peatland are real, quantiﬁed and permanent.
Jon Dearsley, Director, Savills
Public money is also available for the funding of woodland carbon credits. The Woodland Carbon Guarantee is a Government fund that enables woodland owners to auction captured CO2 in the form of woodland carbon units for a guaranteed price every 5 or 10 years. The two main drivers in the critical effort to boost Natural Capital are anticipated to be private sector investment and the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS). ELMS was proposed in the 25 year Environment Plan and mandated in the 2019 Agriculture Bill. It is intended to replace the Basic Payment Scheme of the Common Agricultural Policy and the principle behind ELMS is public money for public good. The approach aims to put a monetary value on Natural Capital and payments are likely to be made for improving air, water and soil quality; providing rich habitat biodiversity; carbon sequestration and many other areas of public beneﬁt. Natural Capital is the most precious asset we have. We ignore it at our peril.
the Specialist Spring 2021
The secret world of plants The work of the John Innes Centre
Peter Innes Great-great nephew of John Innes
99% of the world’s exported bananas derive from a single tree ﬁrst grown in the greenhouses at Chatsworth. This is the ‘Cavendish’ banana, and it is currently threatened with wipe-out by a rapidly spreading fungus. Without action the bananas we eat today could be no more. Scientists in Norwich at the John Innes Centre are now perfecting a tweaked Cavendish banana that will be resistant to the fungus. Long live the banana! The name John Innes is synonymous with the composting formulae developed in the 1930s, but perhaps not so well known as the name of one of the world’s leading plant research institutes. Plants are at the epicentre of combatting the great challenges of our time: climate change, food security and sustainability, biodiversity and human health. Advances in genomics and ‘Big Data’ – modern computing’s ability to process massive amounts of information – have transformed the way that plants are studied and the John Innes is using both to counter all sorts of threats – from ash dieback to virus in sugar beet and cabbage stem ﬂea beetle, which, as arable farmers know, can devastate a crop of oilseed rape. But wheat is the big call. After rice, it’s the world’s most important crop and growing it leaves a heavy carbon footprint: the production of fertiliser alone accounts for some 4.5% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. However, wheat also has a very complex genetic make-up with more than ﬁve times as many genes as a human being, and that presents the opportunity. The different traits can be used to develop new wheat varieties with greater drought, pest and disease resistance and, crucially, less reliance on chemical inputs. If wheat can be made to ﬁx nitrogen naturally from the soil as crops like peas and clover do, fertiliser inputs will be dramatically reduced. It was in fact peas that kicked things off: Gregor Mendel’s work on heredity in peas in the 1850-60s ﬁrst suggesting the theory of genes, a concept taken up at the inception of the John Innes in 1910 by its ﬁrst director, William Bateson.
And peas are still being worked on there today – particularly with regard to human health. We know that the starches in some peas (and potatoes) can help avoid the bursts of blood sugar that cause Type 2 diabetes; so understanding those starches better and developing them as a food additive has the potential, not only to make the nation healthier, but to save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds a year. And it’s not just diabetes. Other projects at the Centre include the use of amino acids in tomatoes to control Parkinson’s Disease, and – one for the future – plants to alleviate arthritis. There’s also antibiotics and vaccines. Two- thirds of the world’s antibiotics stem from Streptomyces bacteria found in the soil. Their development owes much to the work of Sir David Hopwood at the John Innes in the 1960s; and now, with resistance to them growing, research at the Centre is advancing on ﬁnding new antibiotic strains. There are trials too on using plants as a testbed for vaccines. John Innes Centre
Finally, the Centre is also developing nutritious cash crops for the developing world, the grass pea in Africa being one good example. But because experience shows that gaining local acceptance often encounters cultural and social resistance, the Centre is establishing the new Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development with the University of East Anglia: a world-ﬁrst in combining cutting-edge crop research with the social science expertise necessary to understand and overcome this resistance. The world of plants is full of secrets and the John Innes Centre is a major player in unlocking them. If you’d like to ﬁnd out more, or if you think you or a charity with which you’re associated might be interested in joining us with ﬁnancial support for these great endeavours, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
the Specialist Spring 2021
Courses for horses the pop-up sport
If point-to-pointing is to regain its feet after months of Covid lockdown its many and varied racecourses will stimulate public engagement and aid its recovery. Restrictions linked to social distancing will be in place initially, and while there has been a wave of enthusiasm to restart point-to-pointing, the coming years will reveal the pandemic’s impact on it and other non-elite sports. In that regard the courses – of which there are currently more than 90 around Britain – will have a key role. They are not classed as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but in terms of sports venues many are worthy of such status. Their aesthetic value will play a part in getting allimportant spectators back. A few courses are semi-permanent, while others are grassland one day and a racecourse with fences, marquees and lines of bookmakers a month later. In that regard point-to-pointing, which was part of the development of horse racing over fences, is the original pop-up sport, its ability to make use of a variety of locations being part of its durability. The acorn from which it grew was planted in the 18th Century when challenge matches between hunting people took place from one point to another point. Creating courses which enabled spectators to witness the action from start to ﬁnish boosted the popularity of these races, and hunts, with their rural connections and volunteer helpers, became organisers. Before Covid descended many thousands of paying customers attended these race meetings, particularly through the spring when a picnic at the back of the car and sporting action in a rural setting was a perfect antidote to the week’s labours. Hopefully normal service will not be long in coming, but for up-to-date details about the current situation and information on ﬁnding a venue, visit www.pointtopoint.co.uk.
Racing around the country While driving along the A38 dual carriageway in Devon on a spring afternoon you might ﬁnd yourself overtaking a group of galloping horses in an adjacent ﬁeld. On your left will be Buckfastleigh, the point-to-point venue of that name rather than the eponymous village nearby, and for many the closest they will come to taking part in a horse race. The Devon and Cornwall area, one of 14 point-to-point regions in Britain, is a stronghold of the sport, staging racing from the start of the season in November to the ﬁnish in mid-June and at a wide range of locations. Near Ottery St Mary you will ﬁnd Bishops Court, which landowner Oliver Carter created as a racecourse in 1979. Carter was a talented trainer who sent out many winners, but on race days he would frequently take the announcer’s microphone to castigate racegoers for not putting litter in the bins provided. On one occasion a couple of locals, fed up with the ear-bashing, put Oliver in a bin. Heading east you come to the Wessex area which is graced by Badbury Rings in Dorset, another of the sport’s most alluring beauties. The course takes its name from the adjacent Iron Age Hill Fort dating from 800 BC and in use until the Roman occupation of 43 AD, while the approach road is bordered by a magniﬁcent avenue of beech trees which were planted as a birthday gift by architect William John Bankes to his mother Frances.
the Specialist Spring 2021
Courses for horses the pop-up sport Bankes, who was born in 1776, became an aide-decamp to the Duke of Wellington and an MP. His family home was at Kingston Lacy near Badbury Rings, and the trees were planted along what was then a turnpike from which the family derived an income. There are 365 trees on one side of the road and 366 on the other to account for a Leap Year. Some 185 years later these arboreal giants remain a commanding spectacle, although the National Trust, which looks after the hill fort, has had to replace diseased specimens with Hornbeams. Another of the area’s most prized venues is Larkhill, one of Britain’s biggest courses and situated on military land at the southern end of Salisbury Plain near Woodhenge and Stonehenge. It is a connoisseur’s course, often attracting high-quality horses from leading stables, and busily staging seven meetings a season, but they are completed by late March. Midweek point-to-points, like market days, were once common, but as costs rose so did the need to draw the maximum number of spectators, and weekend racing became the norm. Apart from Bank Holiday Monday meetings just one ﬁxture now takes place in midweek, on a Wednesday evening in May at Cothelstone on the edge of the Quantock Hills near Taunton. Approaching the course, which also stages two weekend ﬁxtures, you will see Cothelstone Manor and its ornate arch entrance named Judge Jeffreys’ Gateway. Attending the Bloody Assizes in Taunton, Jeffreys asked for accommodation at the manor, but was refused by the owner John Stawell who disliked the judge’s harsh treatment of rebels who took part in the 1685 Monmouth Rebellion. In retaliation Jeffreys ordered two rebels be hanged from the gateway. Close to the Capital In the South East area there are several courses which are easily accessed from London, although Covid restrictions have severely limited the action this spring. In a normal year Godstone, just off the M25, is worth a visit, while Charing in Kent provides the best of racing in the region and very good viewing from a bank near the paddock. It is 20 minutes by car from the M20 or can be reached by train from London Victoria. In the South Downs National Park you will ﬁnd Parham in Sussex, a venue which adds a dog show to the racing action, and while Peper Harow is not far from the A3 near Guildford it is a venue for mixing and mingling and picnic parties, rather than great views of the racing. In East Anglia is the excellent and appropriatelynamed Horseheath, which is found on the Vestey family’s Thurlow Estate and which stages meetings in January and March.
Pick a sunny day, wrap up warm and you will enjoy witnessing the best of the sport, even if it is a little early in the season for picnic parties. The Vesteys’ fortune was founded on meat packing and import and the current head of the estate, George Vestey, is a qualiﬁed butcher who claims his biggest regret was being dropped to 12th man on the sole occasion he was picked for a cricket match at Lord’s. Ampton near Bury St Edmunds also stages January and March meetings. It was founded in 1971 by Joe Turner, a self-made agricultural entrepreneur who was a genius at training point-to-pointers to win multiple races. His children, David and Josie, won a total of 13 senior riding championships. There are no shortage of superb venues across the Midlands including Garthorpe, a kingpin of the sport and located just a few miles from Melton Mowbray. Stop off there on the way to the races and add one of the town’s famous pork pies to your picnic. Further north, but still in the Midlands area, is Brocklesby Park, a course set in the 27,000 acre Brocklesby Park Estate which is home to the Earls of Yarborough. Among tracks in the South Midlands is Kingston Blount in Oxfordshire. Located near the M40 on the edge of the Chiltern Hills it is good for watching racing and spying kites, the birds of prey variety, which soar overhead. Cocklebarrow stages an early-season meeting on a ridge in the Cotswolds – the weather can be (very) inclement, but the course provides a vast marquee for shelter, and plenty of gallivanting for the local young farmers who are rarely shy in supporting the bar. Foodies will ﬁnd champagne and oyster bars and rare-breed beef baps when other courses offer burgers and chips.
the Specialist Spring 2021
Barbury Racecourse in Wiltshire stages one meeting in the South Midlands and two in the tiny Sandhurst area. It takes its name from Barbury Castle, an Iron Age fort which overlooks the course. The West Midlands is another hub of the sport whose venues include Chaddesley Corbett in Worcestershire, venue for point-to-pointing’s most valuable race, the Lady Dudley Cup, ﬁrst run in 1897. The grave of John Bonham, Led Zeppelin’s legendary drummer, can be found in nearby Rushock Church. Maisemore Park, which is close to the city of Gloucester, has superb viewing from a bank, while another venue just off the M5 is Woodford, based on land that forms part of Berkeley Castle. From the racecourse you can spy the castle, still fully intact, rising distantly across the meadows, and home to the Berkeley family since the late 12th Century. Their house is open to the public. Anyone for Badminton? Another aristocrat’s seat, Badminton House, is home to the Dukes of Beaufort. It is also the site of the world famous Badminton Horse Trials and a point-to-point at Didmarton, where in 1994 the Hon Dido Harding – now Baroness Harding, the head of NHS Test & Trace – rode a winner on her horse Cool Dawn. They later ﬁnished second at the Cheltenham Festival. Several courses in the Welsh Borders area have closed in recent years, and Covid-related issues means no meetings are being held there in the current season, but visit them in 2022 for they are bucolic gems. Bitterley, which is located on the Wiggin family’s Downton Hall Estate, is close to the charming town of Ludlow in Shropshire, while the Herefordshire venue of Bredwardine is situated in The Golden Valley, which says it all. Two British point-to-point courses are on showgrounds, with one at Wadebridge, the site of the Royal Cornwall Show, and the other in Wales at The Monmouth Showground. The last-named is a relatively new addition to Britain’s courses and a scenic spot at the head of the Wye Valley. Follow the valley and River Wye south and you will pass Tintern Abbey (founded 1131) before reaching Chepstow racecourse, home of the Welsh National.
Nearby is the remains of Wroxeter Roman City, complete with a villa built for a Channel 4 documentary and a good reason to arrive early for a tour before racing. Another example of a point-to-point course in a country estate is Tabley, which takes its name from Tabley House near Knutsford in Cheshire. A folly rises from a mere at one end of the course. Yorkshire is a signiﬁcant stronghold of point-to-pointing with ten courses, and not all within the county. Witton Castle, in the grounds of a crenellated manor house built in the 15th Century, is in County Durham. Sheriff Hutton was re-established as a venue in 2008 and has quickly become one of Yorkshire’s ﬁnest venues, being popular with runners from far and wide, and offering good viewing for the public from the hillside car park. The course and all the land as far as the eye can see is owned by Mick Easterby, a farmer, racehorse trainer and self-titled legend, who wanders among the crowd, his threadbare coat fastened with baling twine. Crossing into the Northern Area leads to some wonderful venues set in spectacular settings, among them Friars Haugh, which is overlooked by the Duke of Roxburghe’s Floors Castle and bordered by the River Tweed, while the B6318 ‘military road’ by which racegoers approach Corbridge point-to-point was formerly part of Hadrian’s Wall. The busiest venue in the region is Alnwick, which overlooks the North Sea and is home to the Ratcheugh Observatory, a Grade 1 folly incorporating a viewing tower constructed in the 18th century, while Tranwell is situated on a former airﬁeld known as RAF Morpeth. This has been a whirlwind tour but the colour and variety of point-to-point courses make it a sport which provides a wonderful day out and is to be cherished as we head back to more normal times.
Head along the M4 for a weekend on the coast and a visit to Lydstep near Tenby, a venue for two spring meetings. The Banwen Miners Hunt, which was formed by men who worked at a local colliery, stages a meeting at Llwynddu Glais. If you are not Welsh good luck in asking directions, although it is well signed from the A4067. In England’s North West region you will ﬁnd Eyton-onSevern, one of Britain’s biggest courses. Walk your dog around it before racing and you will have a tired, but happy Rover. Hornby Castle
the Specialist Spring 2021
Drones - how to stay legal Drones are without doubt becoming a “must have” accessory on farms and estates, where they can do anything from taking aerial pictures and videos, to monitoring the health of crops and herding livestock. However, after the chaos that affected Gatwick Airport in 2019, and numerous other incidents involving drones and the public, the Civil Aviation Authority, the regulator responsible, is naturally keen to clamp down on irresponsible operators. It has therefore introduced new risk-based rules to ensure drones are ﬂown safely and failure to do so can result in hefty ﬁnes, or even prison. Gone is the distinction between hobbyist and commercial drone ﬂyers and instead there is a 238 page rule book governing the risks a ﬂight poses to “uninvolved” people, as well as the size and the capabilities of drones. Whilst the ﬂying of drones over open farmland and far away from people may appear to be relatively low risk, all drone operators must adhere to the rules and follow the new Drone Code. The legal owner of a drone must now register with the CAA for an Operator ID; the drone should be clearly marked with this ID and it must be renewed annually at a current cost of £9. The ﬂyer of the drone must
obtain a valid Flyer ID by completing a free online theory test for pilots. There are various categories within the rules and the category which most closely relates to the intended ﬂying activity is the one to apply for. Additional training is required for drones weighing more than 250g and where they are to be ﬂown close to people. Most farmers and estate owners are likely to fall into the Open A3 category which restricts drones to only being ﬂown in “areas completely clear of uninvolved persons and may not be ﬂown within 150m horizontally of areas that are used for residential, commercial, industrial or recreational purposes”. The Drone Code also states that third party liability insurance is required if the drone is being used for work on a farm or estate, or if payment is being received for taking images. Insurance is not expensive and now widely available, but it is obviously essential to make sure that you have it.
Liability insurance – is the limit high enough? When we conduct insurance reviews with our clients each year, one of the topics we always discuss is the adequacy of Employers’ Liability and Public & Products Liability indemnity limits.
historically low interest rates and investment returns, and prompted by government, courts have had to signiﬁcantly increase the amounts they award.
In the light of soaring liability claims for workers and visitors who are injured on farms and estates, it is an essential part of the review.
The consequences of a liability claim that exceeds a typical policy limit of say £10m could be catastrophic for a farming family or an estate business. Any court award that is not met fully by insurance can be enforced against the personal assets of sole traders or partnerships, or against the assets of limited companies.
The number of cases passing through UK courts and resulting in awards of £10m-£20m is mounting, particularly of course where the injured party requires lifetime care and a very large capital sum to support it. In the past an allowance for investment income was normally factored into an award of this nature, but with
Claims against farm and estate businesses can come from any direction and invariably out of a clear blue sky. Agitated livestock on a public right of way; damage from a falling tree; injury from a fall on the dance ﬂoor of a wedding venue; illness due to the consumption of contaminated produce. There is no shortage of causes.
Quite often we come across signiﬁcant estates which only have £10m of Employers’ Liability cover. Likewise, they just have £10m of Public Liability cover when the public visits their property in their thousands each year for hospitality, weddings, ﬁlming, farm tours or to wander around areas of natural beauty and sites of historical interest. Proximity to main roads, railway lines or urban areas exacerbates the potential liability, as do farms and estates that have any kind of retail activity. In our view PL & EL insurance is one of the areas where it is foolhardy to skimp and buying the appropriate amount of cover need not cost a fortune. Taking that extra £10million may only cost a few hundred pounds and gives one less thing to worry about.
the Specialist Spring 2021
Escape of oil - the claims process Any claim which involves the escape of a pollutant presents a signiﬁcant risk to the environment as well as to property and businesses. One of the more common occurrences of this type is the escape of kerosene heating oil from domestic fuel tanks and speed of response is absolutely key to limiting the damage to a building and the surrounding environment. Causes we have seen range from a branch falling on an external measuring pipe which knocks it beyond the horizontal, to a gardening contractor severing an underground pipe whilst landscaping. Unsurprisingly, given the potential consequences of a leak, dealing with these incidents can be disruptive and time consuming and may well involve representations from the Local Authority, including Environmental Health, Heritage and Building control and regulatory bodies such as the EA (England), NRW (Wales) and SEPA (Scotland) and NIEA (Northern Ireland). Very often the ﬁrst sign of a leak is when a boiler unexpectedly falls silent. The ﬁrst suspicion is often that the oil has been stolen but that is certainly the lesser of two evils and a tell-tale smell won’t be far way if it is worse than that. It is imperative to notify your broker or insurer immediately. The claim will normally be passed to a specialist environmental adjuster who will contact and visit you as a matter of urgency.
The information provided at this ﬁrst notiﬁcation of the incident is key and will determine the next steps. Questions to be ready for are:
• • • • • • • • • •
What part of the system is leaking? How old is your boiler and tank? Has your heating system recently been serviced? How much oil has been lost? Where is the evidence of the leak? Is there a noxious smell of oil within the house? Has the oil entered a well, watercourse, pond, etc? Is the location of the escape close to the property boundary? What is the construction and age of your house and is it Listed? Have any repairs been recently undertaken?
Depending on the severity of the leak, the next steps may include the appointment of an environmental consultant to act rapidly to stop the leak and to contain and control its spread; to install ventilation equipment to alleviate indoor vapour issues; or in some cases to recommend vacation of the property. An environmental adjuster will regularly attend your premises and, in most cases, be your direct point of contact until the claim is settled. The adjuster will also conﬁrm what cover there is and brokers and policyholders need to make sure they have adequate cover for this type of claim. A Buildings & Contents policy does normally include cover under Escape of Oil from a ﬁxed heating installation
and will include a limited indemnity for alternative accommodation costs should the property have to be vacated. However, importantly, this standard cover may not address the impact to gardens or the wider environment (including pollution of streams, rivers, ponds etc). Such cover is available and it is important to ensure that it is included in your policy if you feel that it is relevant to you. An escape of oil can be sufficiently serious and complex that insurers often need recourse to a network of advisers and specialists. Environmental scientists will review any immediate risk to health and the environment. As the claim progresses, and further investigations reveal the extent of the damage and the nature of the remedial work required, the environmental scientists ensure that the strategy and costs are appropriate and cost effective. The adjuster may also engage the services of other experts at the site such as structural engineers and building surveyors. There is a real premium on immediate action when dealing with escape of oil if the damage is to be kept to a minimum, and of course the leak may have been ongoing for quite some time. Heating oil is extraordinarily insidious and can penetrate the foundations of buildings and watercourses very quickly. The upheaval caused by the remedial action can be soul destroying and empathy from those dealing with a case is almost as important as anything else.
TO FIND OUT MORE WHY NOT GET IN TOUCH: email@example.com 07747 763045
the Specialist Spring 2021
Edinburgh office – James Innes 2020 was a year like no other for anyone joining a new ﬁrm or starting a new office. Working also from home near Lauder, James has managed to do both very successfully. In the process he has forged a close relationship with our partner Weatherbys Private Bank, whose ethos and offices we share in Rutland Square in the heart of Edinburgh. James has now been joined by Alexander McGrigor, a graduate of Newcastle and from a family estate near Oban, and they are all set to go from strength to strength. Now that restrictions are gradually being lifted, James is intent on making the Weatherbys Hamilton brand familiar across Scotland and is very keen to demonstrate the difference that we can make to estate and private clients when given the opportunity. Please do bear James in mind when you want to look at a fresh alternative to your current arrangements.
TO FIND OUT MORE WHY NOT GET IN TOUCH:
Horsham office – Guy Baxter
At the other end of the country Guy Baxter has managed to do exactly the same for us in West Sussex. Guy has been joined in our Horsham office by Jade Knight and Johnny Denman, the latter having recently retired after 25 years running Lycetts’ Billingshurst office to work for us as a consultant. With Johnny’s son Charlie already a key player for Weatherbys Hamilton, we have a very strong team to look after clients all along the South coast from Kent to Cornwall. Our raison d’etre is to combine expert advice with attentive service. With the pandemic and severe weather events causing a signiﬁcant tightening of the insurance market, clients need advice more than ever on the cover they need and how to obtain the best possible terms. Guy and his team are ready to provide exactly that and more.
TO FIND OUT MORE WHY NOT GET IN TOUCH:
Penrith – William Johnson 07966 030832 firstname.lastname@example.org 01768 877355
Wellingborough – Matthew Haxby email@example.com
07764 153234 01933 440077
Newmarket – Alec Moore firstname.lastname@example.org
07503 671649 01638 563444
Swindon – Martin Wright email@example.com
07747 763045 01793 847333
London – Clare Blakely firstname.lastname@example.org
07827 297072 (Mobile) 0207 292 9029 (Office)
Edinburgh – James Innes email@example.com
07526 252857 (Mobile) 0131 285 5064 (Office)
Horsham – Guy Baxter firstname.lastname@example.org
07855 626086 01403 915599
www.weatherbyshamilton.co.uk Weatherbys Hamilton LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Financial Services Register number 582708 Registered office: Sanders Road, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire NN8 4BX Registered Number OC373141 Disclaimer - The views and opinions expressed in this Newsletter are solely those of the Partners of Weatherbys Hamilton LLP and do not claim to represent those of any other company or third party.