What Home Insurance Do I Need If I Rent Out To Tenants?
When buying-to-let or renting out a house, it’s important to understand the options available to landlords for home insurance, as this differs from regular homeowner insurance.
If you’re a new or existing landlord that wants to make sure that you and your property are fully insured to prevent unexpected bills when things go wrong, you may be wondering what home insurance you need if you rent out to tenants.
Although not a legal requirement, landlords are strongly advised, and it is sometimes a term of a lender’s mortgage agreement, to take out landlord insurance with adequate cover to protect the owner, the property, and its tenants, should things ever go wrong.
What does landlord insurance cover?
Landlord insurance is a specialist type of homeowner policy that is designed to protect rental property owners from financial loss resulting from the specific risks of owning a rental property. It can be tailored to cover a wide range of things including, accidental damage, building’s cover, contents cover, liability cover, rental income cover, professional liability and legal protection.
Standard home insurance policies aren’t designed to cover property rentals so, as stipulated in most mortgage agreements, property owners looking to rent out their home should ensure they have a specialist landlords insurance policy in place to prevent insurance policies being invalidated should there ever be a need to make a claim.
Do I need landlord insurance?
If you are mortgage-free, or in the highly unlikely event that your mortgage provider doesn’t insist on landlord insurance being taken out, the decision on whether or not to take out insurance on a property that you rent out to tenants is up to you. If your lender requires landlord insurance as part of their terms, or if you want to ensure that you’re fully protected against the financial risks of owning a rental property, then you will probably want to find a suitable policy.
Read on to find out more about landlord insurance, what it covers and how it differs from regular homeowner insurance so that you can make the right, informed decision for you and your property.
What Is landlord insurance?
Landlords’ insurance is an insurance policy that covers a property owner from suffering the financial losses associated with the risks of renting out property. The policy usually covers the building as standard, with the option of insuring any contents that belong to the landlord, plus additional extras such as loss of rental income or accidental damage cover.
What is the difference between landlord insurance & regular home insurance?
Insurance cover is all about protecting policyholders from risks associated with their activities. When it comes to owning property, homeowners that rent out their property to others face a different set of risks to regular homeowners that live in their property.
For example, landlords may supply the property with some furnishings that could be damaged by tenants, a tenant could be injured in the house by something that should have been taken care of under regular landlord obligations, keys get lost and locks need replacing more often to maintain security, and landlords can suffer from loss of rental income should tenants default on their payments to name just a few. This is all on top of the usual threats that any building faces from fire, theft, flood and storm damage.
Due to the specific risks associated with renting a property, landlord insurance is often stipulated as a mandatory requirement by mortgage lenders on buy to let homes and regular homeowner insurance wouldn’t be accepted or be valid for anyone that is renting out their property.
What type of property needs landlord insurance?
From a simple one up, one down to an eight-bedroom manor house with extensive grounds, if you own any kind of property that is rented out to tenants, then you should consider taking out landlord insurance.
Any kind of property can be covered by a valid landlord insurance policy, regardless of material, structure, size or location including;
Flats in dedicated flat blocks or converted houses or buildings
What should the policy cover?
As with any insurance policy, not all landlord insurance options are equal. The level of cover that you take out will depend on your attitude to risk and the budget you have available but should at the very least include:
Buy-to-Let buildings cover
Property owners’ liability insurance
Tenant default/loss of rent
Landlords contents Insurance
Accidental damage insurance
Landlords legal protection
Most basic landlord insurance policies will cover the building itself as standard. When shopping for landlord insurance you should make a list of the things that you need to be covered for. Then check that this is included in the small print of any new policy that you are considering.
You should also remember that if you employ anyone to help you to manage the rental property, you are legally required to hold employers liability insurance too.
Taking the time to consider cover for crucial elements like building contents, windows, doors and locks, property owners liability insurance, legal costs, loss of rent, and alternative accommodation costs at the point of buying, could save you thousands in the long run.
Although unlikely to be anyone’s favourite job, you should always take the time to compare insurance providers and the level of cover that they provide to get the right level of protection for you and your rental property. It’s not always the best idea to go with the cheapest quote you find, and should always pay attention to the small print.
If you ever need to make an insurance claim to recoup the cost of damage or loss suffered relating to the rental property, then finding out you’re under-insured, or that something you assumed was covered isn’t after all, can be a very costly mistake to make.
To prevent this from happening, you should compare providers and pay attention to the details of the policy, what is covered, and any excess payments that you would be liable to pay.
Some insurance providers will package all of the individual policy elements together to create a single, comprehensive landlords policy, but others will sell each element separately. Never assume something is covered, unless you have read it in black and white within the policy documents.
Pay specific attention to excess fees, administration fees and the total value of insured assets. Overlooking these key elements may leave you facing large, unexpected excess payments or even leave you underinsured, which could in the worst-case scenario prevent the provider from paying out in the event of a claim, or invalidate your policy entirely.
What does it all mean?
Whether your insurance provider offers lots of protection as standard, or you need to add on various elements to a basic cover plan, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the following types of landlord insurance cover.
Property owners’ liability insurance: Protects landlords against compensation claims when the property causes injury or damage to tenants or visitors.
Tenant default/loss of rent: Provides cover if active tenants with a tenancy agreement in place default on their rental payments. This policy won’t cover you for lost income when the property is vacant.
Landlords contents insurance: Covers damage or theft of any fixtures, fittings or furnishings that you provide with the house. This could include carpets, white goods, curtains etc. and you should always check the wording of what is and isn’t covered as not all policies are the same.
Accidental damage insurance: Even the best tenants can cause accidental damage. Adding this to your policy provides peace of mind to the landlord and tenant that nobody will be out of pocket if accidents occur.
Buy-to-Let buildings cover: Or landlord building insurance covers you from damage to the property itself resulting from fire, lightning, water, explosion or malicious damage. Ensure you have sufficient cover to meet the cost of repairing or rebuilding the property after damage or destruction.
Employers liability: If you pay anybody to assist you in managing the property, you are legally required to have employers liability insurance to protect you from claims from accidents happening in the property.
Landlords legal protection: if faced with legal action or claims of negligence or injury, legal bills can quickly add up. Landlords legal protection can cover some or all of your legal fees.
How much does landlord insurance cost?
There is no single answer to this question as every home and every insurance policy is unique and tailored to the needs of the property owner and the risks they may face as a landlord.