Important Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent About Rental Property Insurance
There are important steps that investors must take to ensure the success of their rental property; one of the most critical is that of procuring the right property insurance.
The purpose of this article is simply to make you aware of common insurance facts and questions that are important to ask your insurance provider about rental property insurance. Failing to know what coverage you have or need to have could lead to major financial loss in the future.
Does my property have the right insurance for an investment/rental property? This is THE key question to ask. Many people do not realize that a normal homeowner’s insurance policy is generally invalid within 30 days after vacating the property and converting it to a rental property. A different policy should be put in place as soon as possible.
In addition, the best insurance for a rental policy will give you additional coverages, such as loss of rent. The type of insurance coverage for landlords generally falls under the umbrella term “property and casualty insurance.”
(Loss of rents coverage is quite expensive, and we usually opt out of this option as most of our properties are single family.)
What type or types of insurance do I currently have on my rental property? Building coverage, hazard and fire Insurance, as well as general liability insurance, are always needed for the physical property. However, there are additional insurances that can be carried, depending on the location of the property, age of the property, and other extenuating factors. Other insurances to investigate are flood insurance if you are in a flood plain, sewer backup insurance, workman’s compensation, terrorism insurance, and loss of income insurance. Question your agent on your current insurance and what other policies are available that would be appropriate for your investment and worth the cost.
A big key to obtaining the right insurance is to provide your agent with ALL the facts – age of the property, condition, area problems, special use, etc. It is very important to be specific on what “type” of investment property you have (for example, horse property, condominium, single-family, apartment etc.). Most landlord insurances are for 1-4 units and multiple units above this number are handled on a different basis.
I have outbuildings on my rental property, are they covered? Most policies generally do not include additional structures, unless specified. This is another reason why you need to disclose all the information to your insurance agent and obtain quotes.
Is my property covered for loss of rent? Covering rental loss, under the right circumstance (such as a building fire), is one of the pressing reasons for obtaining a good landlord/rental policy. There is no coverage for tenants giving a standard notice to quit and vacating the premises. However, it may cover vandalism during an eviction or vacancy – but you need to ask. Have your agent discuss in detail the paragraphs in your insurance paperwork which pertain to vacancies / income loss and what is your actual coverage.
Is my property covered for disasters such as fire, tornado, hurricane, tsunami, flood, and more? Normally, most natural disasters are not covered. However, the insurance company may make a determination that many damages are covered. For example, although a flood isn’t covered, there may be coverage for “water damage.” Another example, a house fire is usually covered for damage as long as the landlord has not shown neglect which caused the fire. The insurance company will have a list of criteria for what is and what is not covered for extreme conditions under the existing policy. Again, find out the facts, ask questions.
How can I reduce the cost of my landlord policy? Landlord insurance is more expensive than a homeowner policy and the main reason for the increased cost is that a landlord doesn’t have any control over a tenant’s actions, implying additional elements of risk. In spite of the higher cost, landlord insurance can be made more affordable through discounts for having security alarms, especially monitored ones, burglar alarms, deadbolt locks, and fire extinguishers. Ask your agent for recommendations on cost-saving items you can do. Remember, landlord insurance IS worth the cost.
If I own a condominium, do I need separate insurance for my rental unit? Just as an FYI, the homeowner association has a policy, but it covers the whole building. If your unit experiences any damage and causes damage to other units, you'd be responsible for the cost of repair of other units. So, the answer to this question is a definite "YES", you need separate property insurance if you own a condominium.
It is of utmost importance and your responsibility to consult your insurance provider regarding your coverage.
There are many insurance companies and plans available and it pays to compare coverage. If your agent cannot spare you the time to answer your questions, seriously think about shopping for another agent and/or company. Review your policies at least once a year, require that your agent provide you with the facts, and take out the best possible policy for your specific investment property to protect your investment.