Rental Trends: Landlords, Should You Buy Vacant Home Insurance?

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a local property management firm that specializes in residential real estate, commercial real estate and home owner associations. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Many landlords are unfamiliar with vacant home insurance even though the coverage is critical to protecting their real estate investments. The primary reason has to do with landlord insurance policies that typically only extend to occupied properties. If those dwelling places are vacant for more than 30 or 60 days (the time period is dependent on the insurance carrier and policy) landlord insurance can cease to apply.

And, if damage occurs to the property during a vacancy period, the landlord or real estate investor will more than likely be held liable for the full cost of any claims filed with their insurer. That isn’t the only potential fallout; if insurance carriers discover that a property is vacant, they have the right to drop coverage altogether, lower coverage levels, or file charges of insurance fraud.

Now for the good news–vacant home insurance is beneficial to landlords. With it, real estate investors are protected against partial property loss, total property loss, and liability lawsuits. It may not seem all that different from landlord insurance, but it is. A vacancy policy safeguards property owners from the unique risks posed by vacancies.

Those risks stem from the fact that no one is present to maintain and protect the property. If a pipe bursts, a squirrel gets into the attic, or fixtures are stolen, nobody is around to alert the landlord. The same goes for vandalism and breaking and entering. The landlord will only discover the problems during their regular property inspections.

This is where, and why, vacant home insurance is a lifesaver. It can cover named perils like vandalism and water damage. It can also protect against cash value losses and liabilities sometimes found with intrusions–it turns out that intruders can sue landlords if they’re injured while breaking and entering. Without a vacancy policy in place, landlords can be held liable for the injury.

Because of that, it’s in landlords’ best interest to build a comprehensive insurance plan that covers properties throughout their lifecycles from occupied to vacant and back to occupied again. It protects their investment and, equally as important, their cash flow, reputation, and business.

If you’re contemplating a property management company and would like some advice, we’re happy to help. Contact us.

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