Most landlords know they need landlord insurance on a rented property; however, they should also require their tenants to have renters insurance. While renters insurance technically protects the renter, it can also protect the landlord in certain situations. If you’re a landlord, here’s why you should consider adding this requirement to your lease.
An Overview of Renter's Insurance:
Though insurance companies and specific policies and endorsements vary coverage, the basics of renters insurance typically include:
Personal property: furniture, electronics, clothing, etc
Additional living expenses: if a covered loss makes the home uninhabitable, renters insurance can pay for the increased cost of living (extra expense for food, temporary housing, etc.)
Personal liability: protection for unintentional injury or property damaged stemming from the actions of the insured.
Each coverage is subject to policy limits, conditions and, exclusions, so be sure to consult with an insurance professional.
Renter's Liability Coverage May Pay for Damage Caused by a Tenant
Protection for the landlord from the tenant’s policy may apply if the tenant causes unintentional property damage to the rental.
An example may be if the tenant left a pot on the stove, which caused a fire that destroyed the building. The landlord would suddenly have to rebuild the building, as well as recoup from lost rent given tenants won't pay rent on a property they can't occupy.
The tenant who started the fire may be responsible in this situation, which is why their renter's policy may provide payment. If the landlord themselves or the landlord's insurance company sues the tenant for the cost of rebuilding the damaged property as well as the loss of rental income, they may be able to collect from the tenant's liability coverage.
A landlord could also sue the tenant regardless of whether they had renters insurance; however, it may be difficult to collect payment if the damages were extensive. Assuming the tenant does not have a lot of assets, even a successful lawsuit would likely leave the landlord with little compensation.
Please note that a renter's policy would not compensate a landlord for intentional damage caused by a tenant including vandalism.
Renters Insurance Can Serve as a First Line of Defense in Tenant-Caused Injuries
To illustrate, assume a tenant's new puppy bites a guest during a backyard BBQ. Because a dog's owner is held responsible for a dog's actions, the tenant could face a lawsuit for the injury, pain and suffering, and loss of income caused by the puppy.
Even though you’re not primarily responsible for the dog, as the landlord there’s a good chance you’ll be sued as well given the incident occurred on your premises.
If your tenant also has insurance, the tenant’s policy may act as the first line of defense. You might still be sued, which is one reason why you should have landlord insurance, but the suit could settle without dragging you and your insurance company into the issue.
If you’re the only party with insurance, there’s a good chance that you’ll either be involved in a legal battle and forced to pay a settlement.
Additional Insurance Tips for Landlords:
Requiring renters to buy renters insurance with at least $500,000 of liability coverage is a good idea. The cost is minimal for what is gained in additional coverage. You should also request a copy of the policy annually to verify coverage remains in place.
You can further reduce the chances of a claim by prohibiting space heaters, dogs, trampolines, and similar potentially hazardous things on your property. The best claim is the one that is avoided.
To check your landlord insurance policy and/or learn more about tenants’ insurance for renters, contact the insurance professionals at HPM insurance. Our agents have worked with many landlords and renters, and we’d be happy to help you.