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Landlord insurance – Why do you need it?
Letting out a property is literally a serious business. For many landlords, it’s their only source of income while for others it’s where they have invested a good chunk – if not all – of their savings. So it’s not worth taking any risks and why really, if you’re a landlord, getting your investment property insured is absolutely essential.
And anyway, some finance lenders make landlords insurance a condition of their buy to let mortgage.
There are three types of basic landlord insurance to consider applying for. These are essentially:
- Buildings – this covers loss or damage to the actual physical building i.e the structure of your property and means you can claim against fire and storm damage (in some cases even malicious damage by tenants).
- Contents – insurance for damage from spills and torn furniture to breakage of white goods and appliances etc.
- Rent guarantee – this makes sure you never miss out on a month’s rent if the tenant can’t or won’t pay, or if the property itself becomes void for a certain amount of time (a fire, for instance, could cause loss of rental income for several months – maybe even a year).
Although Buildings and Contents insurance is pretty much standard for landlords these days – and the third (Rent guarantee) is gaining in popularity, it’s also possible to add on other forms of cover to your landlord insurance policy.
One form of additional cover is Landlord liability and is where a tenant or visitor to the flat is injured due to, for instance, tripping over a broken floorboard, or getting a concussion with a bit of loose plaster falling on their head. This will cover your legal costs as well as damages if the injured party attempts to take you to court.
Another form of the cover open to landlords is Accidental Damage. This compensates you for any instances where the furniture, a window etc in your rented flat is damaged by your tenants and needs repairing or replacing.
Thanks to the current political climate a new form of cover available to landlords is Terrorism cover – although this extra cover would only really apply to landlords with a block of flats in a major UK city.
How to go about getting cheap quotes
Choosing landlord insurance for your business or property investment isn’t about getting the cheapest deal, but the cover that will best suit your needs – although obviously, you want to find the best value quote too. And that’s why it’s important to compare carefully, making sure the policy ticks both the ‘cover’ and the ‘price’ boxes for you.
Money-saving tips for your landlord’s insurance
- A policy may initially look great but always check the minimum excess you have to pay for claims. For Rent Guarantee, for instance, it’s usually a month’s rent.
- Ask if the company provides any discounts if you decide to go for a higher excess. Many do.
- If you plan on paying your landlord insurance monthly, does this hike up the cost of the quote considerably? You may be surprised…
- Find out as much info as you can about your tenants i.e where they work, whether they have rented before etc. Insurance companies will regard this as good risk management on your part and may compensate you in turn.
- If your tenants are students or young people then it may be worth considering taking out cover against cannabis production. It’s not uncommon in rented properties and can cause horrendous damage to the structure of a property.
- Can’t decide between a couple of insurance companies? Then check out what others say about them to get a better idea of how each deals with customer claims. Do this anyway – even if you’ve already chosen.
Landlord insurance FAQs
Q – Am I legally obliged to take out landlord insurance?
A – The straight answer is ‘no’ but, considering this is a business and where you’ve probably ploughed thousands of pounds of your savings into – doesn’t it make sense to make sure you’re covered for any eventuality?
Q – What about buildings insurance?
A – It’s not a legal requirement however you won’t get a buy to let mortgage without it!
Q – Do I have to furnish my property?
A – It’s very much a matter of who your ideal tenant is and whether or not you plan on succeeding in that market. For instance, if you’re aiming at renting to a family then chances are they’ll already have their own sofa, bedding etc. Students, and young professionals, on the other hand, probably won’t and will welcome a furnished flat. It’s worth remembering that all upholstered furniture must comply with the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988.
Q – Will a policy cover more than one buy to let property?
A – Usually, this is very much the case. However, when it comes to rental guarantee cover (ie if tenants refuse to pay their rent) this is done separately for each property in turn.
Q – Will content insurance I take out cover my tenant’s contents too?
A – No, but it will cover all the furnishings you’ve supplied, such as sofas, beds and kitchen appliances etc. Your tenants will have to take out an independent cover for their own goods.
Q – Can landlord insurance cover start the day I buy it, or do I have to wait for a length of time?
A – Standard practice is that the insurance starts whenever you want it to once the paperwork has gone through – which can often be the very day it’s purchased.
Q – Can I cancel a landlord insurance policy at any time if I find another one more suited to my needs?
A – You can cancel a policy but unless you do so within the company’s ‘free period’ ie usually within the first 14 days, then you’ll be charged a sum of money such as £30 or £50 and your money returned (depending on whether or not any claims have already been made).
Q – Will items in a locked cupboard that tenant’s don’t have a key for be covered under landlord contents insurance?
A – No, the insurance cover is only for furniture and appliances that the tenants in your property will physically have access to.