When he split up with his girlfriend, Anthony Paine needed to store his stuff somewhere fast.
As he shut the door of their flat for the final time, the irony struck him that there must be lots of people with space to spare nearby, if only he could connect with them.
So he and his business partner David Mantle began their mission to create a kind of Airbnb for storage.
The result was Stashbee, a company that links people with spare garage and attic space with those looking for cheap storage.
It is one of a growing number of storage start-ups worldwide testing the boundaries of the tech-fuelled sharing economy.
But how does it work in practice?
I’m renovating my house and need to store three boxed items, a bag and a set of golf clubs. So I decide to give Stashbee a try.
The website connects me with Rowena who lives near me and has more attic storage space than I can dream of.
“I’m a great believer in the sharing economy,” she says, after we’ve hoisted my stuff into her loft. “It’s great that resources that aren’t being used full time are being used more widely.”
Does it feel weird having a stranger’s stuff in your house, though?
“You have the right to pull out on meeting the person,” she replies. “If my instincts were going ‘eeuugh’, I wouldn’t go ahead with it.”
Thankfully, I passed her test. To store my stuff with Rowena for two months costs £56.
The traditional self-storage industry is worth £440m a year in the UK and more than $20bn (£16bn) in the US, dominated by established companies like Public Storage and Big Yellow.
Can storage start-ups also win our trust?
Carlos Sousa, a sales manager with Access Self Storage, a national self-storage firm in the UK, is sceptical about storing with “amateurs”.
“Here you have access to your goods 24/7,” he tells me, as he opens up a typical locker in the basement.
“If you share with a stranger there’s no guarantee they are going to be home when you need your stuff.”
Storing my same stuff at a warehouse like this in London costs around £75 – with long-term costs creeping up afterwards.
And he questions their security arrangements too.
The big problem, argues Stashbee’s David Mantle, is that people are taught from childhood to distrust strangers. The sharing economy forces us to overcome this training, he says, and recognise that most strangers don’t want to harm us.
This is why, unlike rivals, his site prioritises hosts’ profile pictures as opposed to pictures of the storage spaces. Like a dating site, it’s about that first, human impression, Mr Mantle believes.
He confirms that Rowena could have pulled out if she didn’t like me. And for customer peace of mind, they perform background checks on hosts. And they have just organised an opt-in insurance policy to cover goods, beginning at £3.77 per month, which covers up to £1,500 worth of stuff.
With a company like Access, insurance is compulsory and also costs extra.
The rise of social storage
Costockage: Founded in 2012, this French company is building a “costockeurs” community who can “monetise their unused space”
Storemates: A UK company that came to prominence on the Dragon’s Den TV show in 2012. They sign up people with spare space and connect them to people who need it
Roost: Founded in 2013 and operating in San Francisco, it facilitates peer-to-peer storage solutions, including car parking spaces as well as attics and lofts
Spacer: Founded in 2015, describes itself as “Australia’s marketplace for space”, releasing money from “idle assets”
While start-ups increasingly target the competitive social storage space, a new company is trying to make money out of our shorter-term storage needs – the few hours we have to kill before taking a train, for example.
CityStasher, set up by a group of Oxford University economics graduates, is building a constellation of small shops and kiosks that will look after your luggage for short periods of time.
They have 30 signed up so far in England, near bus and train stations, which you can find on the CityStasher app.
In November, they booked in more than 700 pieces of luggage. With private investment just signed, the trio want to expand and take on the “left luggage” industry.
But hang on – is this safe?
I take my rucksack to a newsagent near London’s Euston station to put CityStasher to the test. It’s a far cry from the normal left luggage point at the station, which has uniformed guards scanning bags.
Shop supervisor Modo seems busy serving customers. But he tells me my bag will be fine in the store room. He signed up because he has space and can easily generate extra cash from his prime spot.
I’m used to picking up Amazon packages from newsagents, thanks to their Pass My Parcel service, but this feels more risky.
What if I’m a tourist who has gone boating in Hyde Park and had such a great time that I get back after the store has shut? And my passport is in there?
“We don’t recommend storing essentials,” says CityStasher co-founder Anthony Collias.
“We could send on the items,” he adds, “and pay for it, depending on who’s at fault.”
If items are damaged you are covered for up to £100 – not enough to cover a good camera or smartphone, of course.
But in Euston, which has a 24-hour service, it would have cost £12.50 to leave my bag for 24 hours. At the newsagent it was £5.
Will that be enough of a saving to persuade people to use the service? A straw poll of people waiting at Euston station revealed that most were interested in the idea.
For some small shops struggling on the High Street, it might feel like a lifeline.
TEAMBUREAU are taking part in Christmas Jumper day again this year.
We are all looking forwarding to putting on our favourite Christmas Jumpers and having a day filled with fun (whilst we work!)
We will be having a mannequin challenge, playing pie face, charging staff for the hot drinks and raffling booze given to us as gifts …. last year we raised £205.00 and would love to raise even more this year.
Please help us by donating £2 by texting TEAMBUREAU to 70050 and help us help others
We will of course post pics and videos through the day on Friday 16th
1 in 5 House Claims suffered are as a result of Escape of water.
On average £2 Million a day on Escape of Water losses.
The amount of water escaping each year could fill 3,880 Olympic size swimming pools.
On average damage caused by escape of water cost insurers £7,000 per incident.
If the water temperature falls below 3 degrees Celsius there is a risk of pipes freezing.
Preventative Measures – What can you do?
Make sure you know where the main Stopcock is located. Is it loose enough for you to turn on and off in the event of an escape of water occurring?
Check all pipes are suitably lagged, this can be installed yourself or by a local plumber
Repair dripping taps, this will prevent possible freezing of pipework.
Leaving the loft hatch open will help the circulation of warm air enter the loft space which can reduce the risk of frozen pipes.
Tips to stop Escape of Water while in Occurrence
Turn water off at main stopcock immediately.
Try unfreezing frozen pipes with a hot water bottle or hairdryer if safe to do so.
Turn off all heating installations to help prevent further water circulating.
Call a plumber immediately, try having more than one plumbers contact details available.
There are some things which may help Prevent Escape of Water available
Ready Temp Devices can set the temperature and will intermittently circulate water throughout the house with both hot and cold water lines “as needed” to maintain the selected temperature. Intermittent circulation typically results in 5 minutes of actual circulation per hour causing far less water heater demand compared to continuous demand from thermostatic valves.
ICE-LOC is a unique material that can be placed in any potable water plumbing system. It helps protect frozen pipes from rupturing or bursting. When water freezes it expands and puts pressure on pipes, causing them to rupture. ICE-LOC absorbs this pressure allowing ice to expand and helps to protect the pipes from these high pressures.
Auto Stopcock, this shuts off water supply automatically in the event of adverse water flow. This has a control box which can be located anywhere in the property.
Mobile Applications can be used to control heating devices in the home. This allows you to set heating temperatures and timings anywhere in the world. There are several applications which can service this.
What can I do to prepare for storms and bad weather?
Create a list of emergency contact numbers to call in case your home is damaged by flooding or storms. You’ll want to include any home emergency helplines offered by your insurer, local authorities and utility companies. It’s a good idea to save all the numbers you need on your mobile phone – make sure it’s always fully charged in case of an emergency.
Keep an eye on weather forecasts and warnings for your area. The Met Office has a colour code to help you prepare for severe weather (Green = No severe weather / Yellow = Be aware / Orange = Be prepared / Red = Take action) Met Office
Make some practical preparations around the home; know where your fuse box is (it might be an idea to turn off fuses to low-level sockets that could be affected by any flooding) and clear drains and gutters of any leaves to help water drain away properly
Move your car away from areas that are likely or prone to flooding; park at the top of a slope or hill if you can
If you’re able to, move important possessions upstairs and keep valuables locked safely away in a waterproof container, that can be moved to an upper floor
Secure anything in your garden that could cause damage to your home in a storm, such as loose ladders or garden furniture
Lastly, have a copy of your Home Insurance policy documents and your policy number to hand too. It will be useful if you do have to call to make a claim.
What to do if your home has been affected
It’s important to let your insurer know as soon as possible if you need to make a claim. Refer to your policy documents to see what to do if you need to claim on your home or contents insurance.
If the damage is really serious and you need help straight away, your policy might also include a 24-hour emergency service. Normally this service provides access to approved tradespeople who are on hand to make damage limitation repairs to your property.
I’ve phoned to make a claim – should I go ahead and arrange for repair work to be done myself?
If you have home emergency help as part of your policy, there shouldn’t be a need for you to organise your own repair work to stop any further damage from occurring. Call your insurer and they’ll let you know if you need to take any action yourself.
If you do need to organise temporary repairs, keep detailed records of all the work carried out, as well as any costs and paperwork. This will help your insurer to pay your claim quickly and efficiently.
What happens if I have to move out?
In some cases, damage can be so extensive that you may have to move out of your home so structural repairs can take place safely. Check your policy booklet to find out the maximum amount payable for your alternative accommodation allowance. Knowing you won’t have to stay in budget accommodation will be one less thing to worry about should you have to move out for a short time.
Cars have been submerged by floodwater as heavy rain swept across parts of Britain already battered by Storm Angus.
Amber weather warnings were issued in Devon and parts of Somerset where a “significant amount of rainfall is expected”, with further warnings issued across southwest England and in the North East, the Met Office said.
The alert was expanded by the forecaster as the adverse weather is likely to affect transport and might result in homes and businesses flooding.
Residents in Bristol were shocked as deep floodwater trapped cars in Whitchurch Lane on Monday morning.
The Met Office said 0.9in (21.6mm) of rain had fallen between 9pm and 9am on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, while Liscombe in Somerset saw 0.8in (19.2mm) of rain.
Spokesman Grahame Madge said amber weather warnings have been issued in Devon and parts of Somerset, valid between 5am and midnight on Monday.
Between 0.8in (20mm) and 1.2in (30mm) of rain could fall during a three to six-hour period in these areas, with the possibility of 1.6in (40mm) to 2.4in (60mm) locally across the whole day.
Yellow “be aware” warnings are also in place across the majority of southwest England until midnight.
Similar warnings have been issued for the North East of England up to the Scottish border from midday until 6am on Tuesday.
Mr Madge said: “What we have is a system gradually moving north and that is bringing rain as it travels north.
“The warning areas reflect the progress of this particular weather system – this low pressure as it goes through.”
He added that there could be strong winds associated with the weather system in parts.
Commuters in Cornwall were already facing disruptions by 8am, after the line between Liskeard and Looe became blocked due to flooding.
At 7.30am, the Environment Agency had five flood warnings in place urging residents to take “immediate action” and more than 60 alerts, meaning flooding is possible.
The Agency said it is preparing to put up temporary defences “where necessary” and said rivers have been cleared to make sure water can flow freely.
It comes after nearly 2,000 people in the southwest were left without power on Sunday.
More than 20 crew members also had to be rescued from a 200-metre cargo ship after it ran into a barge of rocks amid high winds, while police in Devon had to evacuate a residential camp after the River Mole burst its banks.
The Met Office’s amber weather warning states: “On Monday, a further broad area of heavy, persistent rain will move northwards across southwest England.
“Although the more persistent rain should clear from Devon by early afternoon, heavy and possibly thundery showers are likely to follow.
A forecaster at the Met Office added that there was a “low risk” more than an inch (30mm) of rain could fall in an hour in some places.
“There could be as much as 40-60mm possible locally through the whole of Monday.
“The ground has been left very wet from Saturday night’s rain and this increases the risk of further flooding.”
Bureau is pleased to announce that they have signed up for this years Christmas Jumper Day to take place on Friday 16th December
This is something we have enjoyed taking part in for a few years now and last year we managed to raise £205, we had a great day using a swear box, charging minimal amounts for tea, coffee, biscuits, had a booze raffle and got donations from our neighbouring businesses, this year we are hoping to even better and you can help us by texting TEAMBUREAU to 70050 ….. MANY THANKS
He wrote: “Ferngrove #Bury is totally impassable #flood. No access. Four rescued by @manchesterfire. Please avoid”
A spokesperson for the service said: “Fire engines from Bury and Whitefield were mobilised to the incident along with a water incident unit from Heywood.
“Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service firefighters used an inflatable raft, known as a water sled, from the water incident unit to rescue the four people – a woman from one vehicle and three men from another vehicle (ages unknown).
“The woman was treated by North West Ambulance Service staff members.”
Flooding has is also affecting other parts of the region this morning.
In Horwich, Bolton , the A6027 eastbound is blocked due to flooding between Mansell Way, Lostock Lane and Chorley New Road.
While traffic is queuing on Bolton Road in Hawkshaw, in Bury, as the road is blocked by floodwaters in both directions. This is between Tottington Road, Bury Road and Spenleach Lane.
And there are also reports of flooding in the Hornby Street and Hind Hill Street areas of Heywood town centre.
The scale of under-insurance is currently a hot topic across both personal and commercial insurance.
Too many people, it seems, are finding out they have less cover than they thought, resulting in reduced claims settlements and growing ill-feeling towards the insurance sector. It may be the result of the insured trying to keep costs down or perhaps simply through a lack of self-awareness, but either way, this is becoming a serious problem.
What is the extent of the problem? Well the ABI estimates that some 20% of homes are under-insured and the Building Cost Information Service has said up to 80% of commercial buildings could be under-insured too.
In the case of a claim where there is under-insurance, insurers will often take a proportionate approach and apply an average – i.e. where a payment for damage or loss will be in proportion to the value insured. This can come as an unwelcome surprise for those claimants and some take the issue further; a common area where the Ombudsman receives complaints. The outcome much depends on the information provided to the customer by the insurer and broker, and on whether they were asked the right questions and told of potential consequences. This is likely to result in a decision in favour of the consumer, however, if there is careless or deliberate misrepresentation from the customer, then the ruling will almost certainly favour the insurer.
Initiatives are Underway
Clearly, though, it would be better if these complaints were not being made in the first place. And so it is welcome that there is a range of initiatives underway to increase understanding. Axa and Ageas are among those who have produced consumer guides, and trade body BIBA is about to launch its guide for broker members.
Under-insurance can be extremely problematic for brokers too. They may be charged with trying to make savings on insurance or risk losing the account. Yet in the event of a claim where under-insurance exists, the broker may be blamed and face a professional indemnity claim.
Last October, the Insurance Brokers’ Standards Council produced a consultation paper for its members that seeks to establish what a broker’s duties are in relation to their client. Meanwhile, it urges brokers to do their utmost to ensure clients are well informed about the risks of under-insurance. And while there are risks for brokers, this is also undoubtedly an area where they can add value, ensuring that their customers are fully informed, insured correctly and given assistance with specialist valuations if necessary.
Many people do not realise how much their possessions are worth, if they take into account electronics, gadgets, garden tools and wardrobe contents, let alone jewellery and antiques. Likewise, when it comes to buildings insurance, there can also be confusion between market and rebuild values – yet there are some useful online calculators to do the job.
Under-insurance and SMEs
Business owners can also be guilty of not paying sufficient attention to values and in the SME market, it is believed that many micro-businesses, who are more likely to buy insurance direct and be more influenced by price, are buying too little cover. There is also often insufficient business interruption insurance bought. Too few firms know how long it would take to recover from a serious incident– the typical 12 month indemnity period is often not enough and 24 months is far more appropriate. Further, the FCA’s recent thematic review on SME claims also found a significant number of instances where the sums insured were inadequate to cover the loss incurred.
There is ongoing work for brokers and insurers in educating about under-insurance and providing easy to understand guidance. This should also make a difference to perception – there are too many who believe insurers always try to ‘wriggle out’ of claims. It is invariably going to be worth paying more to be correctly and fully insured. Skimping on cost is the ultimate false economy and as providers of premium finance, our role is to make the cover more affordable and indeed play a part in ending under-insurance.
Fresh crack damage to properties caused by clay shrinkage subsidence has occurred, with a 70% uplift of claims received by insurers during September and October. What has caused this peak and is there more to come?
At the recent Subsidence Forum Conference, chairman Robert Withers noted that industry-wide weekly instructions during September and October had reportedly increased by 70% compared to the January to August average. Whilst this is certainly not a subsidence surge – 2003 saw a 350% increase – early indications are that 2016 will see the biggest relative increase since 2009, which saw numbers increase by 100%.
Unusually, damage has been quite localised in the south-east. This can be explained by the Met Office rainfall statistics which show the clay soil areas of the south-east have been much drier – remember the “absolute drought” recorded in August – than other areas of the country which also have clay soils.
Table: Met Office Precipitation Data (2016 versus 1961-1990 average)
South East England
North East England
South West England
But low rainfall is just one of the ingredients. The numerous mini heatwaves – with temperatures peaking at a sweltering 34.4 degrees in Gravesend, Kent – was the other key factor. Accordingly, some insurers with large exposure in the south-east have received an uplift in claim numbers during September and October, whereas others have seen little change to their normal loss levels. And it could have been worse – looking back to the early summer, rainfall in June was 212% of average in the south-east – which has helped to avoid a much more significant claims uplift.
Based on our experience of previous years, claim volumes are now likely to have peaked. However, we expect new claim volumes in November to remain around 30% higher than the Jan-August average.