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Did you know that real estate investors tend to be the most underinsured group of property owners? This truth is hard to believe considering most real estate investors are putting their life savings into their investment properties. In fact, insurance is one of the things that real estate investors tend to cheap out on the most! Stick around for a bit because I’m going to outline some of the biggest insurance risks to help you understand what type of investment property insurance you probably need.
Insuring your investment properties is one of the best ways to mitigate risk in real estate investing. But that starts with making sure sure you have the right insurance for your investment properties. You need property insurance to not only protect yourself, but if you have a loan on your property, it also protects your lender. It doesn’t matter if you have a hard money loan or traditional mortgage, as you will responsible for loss
There are different types of insurance to consider when you own an investment property, and for many people, it’s overwhelming. In order to protect an investment property from loss, you’ll need to have coverage for things like fire, theft, and vandalism.
You’ll also want to be sure that you’re protected in the event of an accident on your property or from natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, tornados, and wildfires. And then what about the loss of use of the property while it is being rebuilt or repaired?
We are not a licensed insurance agency, so please consult with a licensed insurance agent when purchasing insurance policies. But as a private money lender, we often find that the property insurance is the least known area by real estate investors who are usually the borrowers of our loans.
Because a lender is essentially a borrower’s debt partner on a property, it is important that the borrower have the right type of coverage because a potential loss will impact the lender as well. Here we explain some of the most commons types of insurance coverage that our borrowers need to protect their investment properties.
Make Sure You Have Enough Dwelling Replacement Coverage!
One of the most important aspect of any insurance policy is the amount of coverage needed to rebuild the property in the event of a total loss. For most residential policies, the dwelling replacement coverage is the dollar amount that will be available to rebuild the property.
Because the cost of construction is never fixed but is always fluctuating, property owners must revisit this dollar amount frequently to make sure they have adequate coverage or coverage limits are not exceeded. Particularly if building supplies and labor costs are increasing year after year, your coverage may need to be increased slightly every year. Some insurance policies have guaranteed replacement coverage which takes into account inflation of construction costs.
Liability coverage Insurance
Why would you need liability coverage? What if someone gets hurt on your property and sues you? The liability coverage amount listed on your insurance policy is the dollar amount the insurance company will pay if someone is injured on your property. Always make sure your insurance policies have a high dollar amount of liability coverage for renters and other people that enter the property premises. An accident could happen on your property that could cause injury or death to another person and this is why every real estate investor should take liability insurance very seriously! Liability costs will vary depending on the amount of coverage you need. Personal liability policies are also available that cover all of your properties.
Builder’s Risk Insurance
Builder’s risk is a type of insurance coverage that you can obtain on an investment property that is under renovation or construction. If you are building an investment property from the ground-up, or if you are renovating an investment property, builder’s risk insurance may be a type of insurance that you should look into. Builder’s Risk Insurance can be purchased by a property owner, or can be held in the name of the general contractor who is doing the construction work on the property.
Theft Insurance & Vandalism Insurance
Thieves often target vacant properties under construction, so it’s important to have theft insurance coverage if you have a vacant property under construction. Theft insurance is a type coverage that falls under a builder’s risk policy. But if you don’t have a builder’s risk policy, make sure your insurance coverage will protect you from loss if your building materials, tools, equipment, or appliances are stolen.
Vandalism insurance covers the premises and personal property from intentional damage caused by a third party. Builder’s risk policies usually cover vandalism but if you don’t have a builder’s risk policy, just make sure the policy you have covers vandalism. A broken window, tagging/graffiti, exterior property damage from eggs being thrown at the exterior of the property, are just a few examples of vandalism damage.
Vacant or Unoccupied or Property Insurance
If your property is vacant for longer than 30 days you should look into a vacant or an unoccupied insurance policy. What’s the difference between the two types of policies? If your home has personal belongings in it but it is not occupied for longer than 30 days it is considered “unoccupied.” When there are no personal belongings in it and it is empty for longer than 30 days it is considered “vacant.”
When a property is vacant or unoccupied for extended periods, it is considered higher risk, so the premiums for this type of insurance are a higher cost. Particularly in areas with high crime, it’s important to have vacant and unoccupied insurance for any properties that will be vacant for extended periods to protect it against vandalism or theft. Because vacant property insurance is more expensive than rental property insurance, property owners sometimes declare a vacant property as being tenant occupied to save money on insurance costs. Don’t do it!
Never say a property is occupied by a tenant when it is actually vacant in order to save money an insurance policy premium. This is because an insurer may not pay an insurance claim if the true occupancy status of the property is not declared. The good news is that you can have different types of insurance for the different stages of your property’s life. For example, you may need vacant dwelling coverage for your investment property while the property is under renovation for the first six months. Once the property is rented, you can change the insurance to a landlord/tenant policy (rental property insurance).
Landlord and Rental Property Insurance on an investment property
Rental property insurance or landlord insurance on an investment property is important for 3 important reasons.
First, it protects your investment in the event of damages caused by tenants, such as a fire or water damage.
Second, it protects your income if a tenant skips out on rent payments.
And, finally, rental insurance can help protect you from liability and cover medical costs in the event that someone is injured while on your property.
For these 3 reasons, it’s important to have rental insurance on any property you own that is rented to tenants. And your insurance won’t cover your tenants’ personal affects such as furniture, bikes, etc., so make sure your tenants are aware of this and if they are concerned they should purchase their own rental insurance or landlord policy coverage.
Loss of Use Coverage
Loss of Use Coverage is critical for tenant occupied rental properties. This type of insurance coverage will pay if your tenants are unable to occupy the property due to a loss. Sometimes loss of use coverage will put your rental property tenant in temporary housing or a hotel if the property is uninhabitable. This could possibly cover rental income as well. Loss of use coverage usually comes standard with most insurance policies, but be sure that it is a stated coverage on your specific policy.
Fortunately, there are ways that real estate investors can protect themselves from suffering too much financial hardship due to loss of use. One option is obtaining loss of use insurance, which helps to cover expenses related to lost income during such periods. This type of coverage is typically included with landlord insurance policies and can help minimize potential losses due to having a vacant rental property.
Fire insurance is a standard coverage found on most insurance policies. Fire insurance covers the cost to rebuild or restore a property that has been damaged or destroyed by a fire. It also covers the replacement of personal property that has been damaged or lost due to a fire. And fire insurance coverage will also cover costs associated with the loss of the use of a property while it’s being repaired or rebuilt.
For example, if your tenants are displaced from a property after a fire, your insurance coverage ought to reimburse you for loss of rents and cover the cost of relocating your tenants temporarily. Because investment properties with tenants are treated differently than owner occupied properties, make sure your fire insurance coverage will cover all of the potential losses associated with a fire.
In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in wildfires and, as a result, the demand for wildfire insurance has also gone up. If your investment property is located in an area where it has exposure to wildfires, wildfire insurance is specifically designed to insure property owners from damage to their properties caused by wildfires.
If you already own one, or you are considering purchasing an investment property in the western United States, be sure to ask your insurance agent about wildfire insurance. It could be the difference between losing your investment and keeping it safe and protected.
Earthquake Insurance for your Investment Property
If you’re an investor with a property located on or near an active earthquake fault line, it’s important to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. One thing that most people don’t know is that earthquake insurance is not covered under most hazard or homeowners insurance policies. This is because it is a speciality insurance coverage that will cover the cost of rebuilding your property if it is destroyed by an earthquake or suffers structural damage. It will also cover other structures on your property, such as driveways, garages, warehouses, and small storage buildings.
For example, the Wasatch Fault in Utah represents one of the biggest earthquake risks in the interior of the western U.S. In 2020, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake in a suburb of Salt Lake City, caused over $60 million dollars in property damage. For property owners without specific earthquake coverage, this meant the potential for a total loss! Because many people have their life savings tied up into their investment real estate, a total loss from an earthquake would be utterly devastating. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have adequate coverage in place before an earthquake strikes. As a private money lender, it is important to us that our borrowers have earthquake insurance coverage on any property we lend on that is located on, or near, an active fault.
If you own a property in an area that is prone to earthquakes, earthquake insurance will cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding that property if it is damaged by an earthquake. It will also cover the cost of temporary living expenses if you need to relocate while your property is being repaired. Make sure your policy has a low replacement deductible and enough dwelling replacement coverage to rebuild the property in the event of a total loss from an earthquake.
Flood Insurance for your investment property
Because flood plain maps are always changing, a property currently located in low flood risk area may be at increased risk of flooding in the future. This means the risk profile for a certain location may change over time with regard to flooding and flood zone classification. Flood insurance will cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding your property if it is damaged by a flood.
If you’ve owned a property for a long time that is located in an area with potential for increased risk of flooding, it is important to assess this risk every few years. This type of risk is something that a property owner needs to assess frequently with the help of a licensed insurance agent.
And, even if you do have flood insurance, it’s important to make sure you have enough coverage to rebuild your property should it be damaged by a flood.
Windstorm Insurance, Tornado, and Hurricane Insurance for your investment home
Windstorm insurance is insurance that protects investors from damage to their investment properties caused by gales, winds, hail, and other gusty hazards. When big winds harm roofs and windows, rain and debris can also damage the personal belongings inside a property. Ensure that your windstorm insurance policy covers physical damage to the property and possessions inside the home. Also, make sure you have the right amount of coverage in place to protect yourself from potential losses!
In some states, insurance for tornados, cyclones, and hurricanes require you to purchase a special policy which is typically more expensive. This type of coverage is something you really need to discuss with a licensed insurance agent that specializes in issuing coverage for properties in areas that are prone to destructive storms.
Real estate investors tend to be underinsured as compared to typical homeowners. Many real estate investors either skimp out on insurance, or just don’t get the right type of coverage. If you are a real estate investor, get the maximum amount of insurance coverage that you can qualify for your investment properties. You local insurance agent will know what insurance products you will need and explain any policy limits. Depending on the location of your properties, you may require different types of insurance for each location.
As a private money lender, we see real estate investors making the same mistakes when it comes to insuring their investment properties. Don’t let that be you! Find a qualified insurance agent that understands how to insure your properties right. Finding the right insurance agent to issue the right type of insurance coverage could mean the difference between making a good investment or having a total loss of your life savings.