Changes in the marketplace the past few years made owning rental properties an attractive option. The availability of foreclosed and short-sale properties created new investment opportunities. And many homeowners turned to renting their property when unable to sell. Regardless of why, if you're a landlord, below are three important coverage lessons you don't want to learn the hard way.
- You need a special type of policy--one designed to protect the unique exposures of a landlord.
Your homeowner policy requires that you reside in the home, and likely excludes personal property and liability coverage when the home is rented for an extented time.
- Not all policies were created equal.
Unlike modern homeowner's policies, which typically cover many potential types of damage, landlord policies can be sold with only minimal coverages. Ask your agent if your policy covers basic perils, broad perils, or special form perils. The best protection is a special form policy.
- Require your tenants purchase their own policy--and get a copy. Not only will you be making your tenant aware that your policy doesn't extend to their stuff, but you may be able to recover if they cause accidental damages to your property. If they are negligent in causing a fire, like a candle left burning on the coffee table, their liability protection may pay for the damages--avoiding your insurance deductible and the potential rate increase for having a claim on your policy.
Owning rental properties increases your risk of being named in a lawsuit. An Umbrella Policy is the best way to limit your exposure, providing a high coverage limit for a small price.