Protect Your Property: Coverage for Landlords and Renters
In the last decade, the U.S. homeownership rate has declined from a peak of just over 69% in 2004 to 63.4% in the second quarter of 2015.1 On the flip side, there was a stark rise in renter household growth from 2010 through 2014, reaching approximately 900,000 new rental households annually.2
New renters just striking out on their own may not realize that a landlord’s insurance policy typically will not provide financial protection against the destruction or loss of the renters’ possessions. Unfortunately, a 2013 poll found that only 35% of people who rent their homes have their own renters policy, which means a majority of renters are leaving themselves exposed to financial risk if their belongings are stolen or damaged.3
It’s important for both renters and landlords to protect themselves financially against potential damage and liability associated with weather-related disasters, typical household hazards, and random accidents.
Coverage for Renters
Renters insurance provides protection (up to the policy limits) for loss of belongings resulting from fire, smoke, windstorm, lightning, vandalism, theft, an explosion, or a water problem. (Damage from flooding, however, is not covered.) A renters policy also provides liability protection in the event someone is injured at your home, and if the home becomes unlivable due to a covered peril, renters coverage may pay for your living expenses while the property is being repaired.
Some property owners only lease to tenants who show proof of their own renters insurance. The extra protection might prevent a tenant from suing a landlord in the event of a fire or other mishap on the property. The good news is that renters insurance is relatively inexpensive, but the cost varies depending on where you live and how much insurance coverage you need.
Coverage for Landlords
Dedicated landlord policies differ from standard policies for owner-occupied properties because they are designed for people who own investment or vacation property that is rented to others. Some homeowners may occasionally rent out their primary home to out-of-town visitors in need of lodging or “swap” their homes for accommodations in a place they want to visit.
The type of coverage you need depends in part on whether you are renting out your property temporarily or on a long-term basis.
Long-term lease. A landlord or rental dwelling policy is required if you plan to rent your home for a long period of time. These policies cover physical damage of the home and other structures for covered perils, any contents that belong to the owner, lost income resulting from damage to the building, and legal fees and liability (up to the policy limits) in the event that a tenant or other individual is injured on the property.
Short-term lease. Check with your insurer if you plan to rent all or part of your primary home for a short period of time (such as a week or several weekends). Some companies will allow a short-term rental if notified in advance, whereas others will require an endorsement to the existing homeowners or renters policy.
Regular short-term rentals. Generally, renting your home on a regular basis qualifies as a business, which is not covered by a standard homeowners policy. Purchase a business policy that covers a hotel or bed and breakfast for proper coverage.
Whether you are a landlord or a renter, it’s important to know what kind of insurance policy will meet your needs. Consult an insurance professional to learn more about the different coverage options available to you.
1) U.S. Census Bureau, 2015
2) Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 2015
3) Insurance Information Institute, 2013
The information in this article is not intended as tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. Copyright 2015 Emerald Connect, LLC.
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