“It was a stressful situation and they took the stress out of it.”

Recounts Elizabeth Aplin about her claim to Simple Landlords Insurance when the porch of the house she rents out mysteriously collapsed.

Elizabeth received the bad news in early February: “I just got this quite worrying text from the tenants. I thought ‘Oh God! How much is this going to cost me?’

“I said ‘Oh no! Talk me through it.’ They said ‘There’s a massive crack from floor to ceiling.’

“They said they were doing a bit of tidying up and the porch collapsed!

“I am not quite sure if it was associated with anything else!”

Elizabeth lives with her husband Phil in Waterlooville, just north of Portsmouth, and has rented out the three-bedroom terrace property in the nearby village of Purbrook.

“I made a slightly panicked phone call to Simple because I hadn’t seen the property at that point,” she said.

“They were very understanding and helpful and they were very calm.

“I felt very reassured. They gave me a claim number and told me what to expect. They sent a surveyor to have a look.

“My husband met him and told me about the damage.

“The house has got a very generous, very square porch at the front of the building,” said Elizabeth. “There was some kind of rain damage. I think water was leaking down from the roof.

“So it cracked and it was coming away from the house.

“Simple said they would do an investigation and a month later I gave them a ring for an update.

“There had been a lot of activity behind the scenes looking at what needed to be done.

“Shortly afterwards I received an email with the schedule of work and a simple question: ‘Would you like to go ahead?’”

Elizabeth, 42, has the demanding, if enjoyable, job of managing Portsmouth Council’s in-house training team, which takes care of the professional development needs of 4,000 staff.

“I really enjoy it,” she said. “My team are great and work very hard.”

No stranger to complex logistical issues, Elizabeth was impressed by the service she received and - despite the inevitable anxieties which arise in these situations - was reassured by the way her claim was handled.

“It was a very positive experience, she said. “The staff are really helpful and understanding. It was a very slick and professional operation.

“They didn’t make it unnecessarily stressful and there was no quibbling.

“They said: ‘Yes we’ll have a look - yes we have looked – and yes it is fine!’

Now Elizabeth is faced with the dilemma of whether to go ahead with the repair work.

She said: “There is a £1,000 excess so if I go ahead I will need to find the excess money.

“It’s just for me to decide whether I sell now, as it is, or whether I will find the money.

“I imagine I will go ahead. We have put a lot of work in there.

“All I have to do now is find the money to tear down a porch!”