There are important steps that investors must take to ensure the success of their rental property portfolio; one of the most critical is that of procuring the right property and general liability insurance.
As your property management company, we cannot advise you specifically on what insurance policy to purchase. 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. Failing to know what coverage you 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.”
What type or types of insurance do I currently have on my rental property? Building coverage, hazard and fire Insurance, as well as 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.
It is of utmost importance and your responsibility to consult your insurance provider regarding your coverage. It is also part of your contract with us that you provide our company with proof of insurance.
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.
Marina Shlomov, a managing partner at ALH|Podland Realty & Rental Homes Property Management is the author of many articles on Landlording, Property Management, and Real Estate Investing. A residential builder in the state of Georgia since 1999, Marina is an investor herself. Her property management company is intended “For Investors” and “By Investors” for a simple reason – she knows what investors’ goals are and she works hard to reach their goals. In her spare time, Marina likes to spend time with her family, friends, garden, read and travel. Check her out at www.alhpodland.com. You can find Marina’s articles and comments at @rentalhomesatl on Twitter, on Facebook, Google+, Blogger. and YouTube, Bigger Pockets and REI CLub and LinkedIn.