Now that you've taken that step, it's important to get the right kind of insurance to protect not only your investment from the ravages of fire, vandalism, smoke, and broken water pipes, but also protection from the greedy hands of your tenants should they sustain an injury on your property in the form of Liability Coverage.
There's usually 4 primary areas of coverage you want to explore when looking into insurance for your property that you rent to others. (doesn't matter if it's a single family dwelling, duplex, multi-plex or a condo.
There's other coverages to consider like Medical Payments (usually included), Flood and Earthquake Coverage(BOTH usually NOT included).
Ok so now you at least have a place to start. Let's take a quick look at each one to give you just a little guidance.
This coverage is identical to homeowners insurance in that it protects the building against physical loss from perils like fire, smoke, vandalism, water damage from broken appliances and pipes, falling trees, automobiles, etc. It's usually written on an ALL RISK basis. Which is fancy insurance talk that simply means EVERYTHING except certain listed exclusions is covered. In other words, if something happens to the structure and it's NOT listed in the exclusions... IT'S COVERED!
You'll want to get enough coverage here to rebuild the structure at current construction costs. Ask your agent of a general contractor what current constructions costs would be for a place like yours. For a more complete discussion, read HOW MUCH HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE DO YOU REALLY NEED (the section on the building coverage walks you thru the same thinking you'll need to determine coverage on your rented property.)
PERSONAL PROPERTY COVERAGE
This portion provides coverage for items that you likely brought to the property. (Exception here might be a refrigerator or window treatments) Rule of thumb is that if it's permanently part of the structure it's a building item, if not, it's likely a personal property item. Most window treatment items (curtains, blinds, curtain rods) will be personal property (check with your agent to be sure) Refrigerator is personal property. An installed dishwasher is likely a building item.
Usually you don't need too much coverage here -- $2000 to $5000 is usually enough, but add your stuff up to be sure.
LOSS OF RENTS COVERAGE
This is important to provide a consistent flow of income should you sustain damage to the property that renders it uninhabitable for a period of time. Policies can pay for up to 12 or 24 mos or some offer an indefinite period of time. Usually it's just for a short time like a few days or a week or two.
This could be one of the most important decisions you make regarding your rental property insurance. My advice is to think of $1 Milliion as a minimum. The difference between $300,000 and $1 million is likely less than $100 per year ($8.00 per MONTH) Beleive me, a WISE investment in the protection of EVERYTHING you own. Liability losses can be wide ranging and EXTREMELY varied in nature.
Here's a quick story about one...
Just this year a policyholder called me and told me that they were being sued because their tenant's girlfriend accidentally let the tenant's dog out of the back yard. The dog made a beeline across the street and kicked the stuffing out of the neighbor’s dog. The landlord (NOT the tenant or the girlfriend) was being sued by the neighbor for veterinarian bills that exceeded $3000 and for mental anguish, stress, and… well, you know the drill. Fortunately my policyholder had not only their Rental Dwelling Insurance in place but also a $1 Million Liability Umbrella standing between this crazy neighbor and everything they owned. Without that, this could have been their problem…You can insure your rental property, your personal property and your liability exposure in one simple policy.
They could have been paying off this “little problem” for years. They could have risked everything they own in addition to their FUTURE EARNINGS by not having the foresight to get adequate Rental Dwelling Insurance and a LIABILITY UMBRELLA policy.
Be sure to take your time and spend a few minutes in the chaos of the transaction to talk with your insurance professional about these important coverages.
You can always call or email me if you have any questions.
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