Ironically, it’s not just tenants that don’t understand renter’s insurance, but it’s also landlords as well. Here’s why it’s important and here’s also what you need to know as a landlord.
Your Insurance Covers Your Property
Or at least it should if you’re properly insured! Depending on the type or amount of insurance, this covers damage to the property through issues such as fire, flooding, sewer backups, rental income loss and more. It also helps you repair or rebuild your property if one of these issues does occur or provides you with potential settlements if you prefer not to move forward with the work, or if you wish to do it yourself.
Again, the important point of this is that it depends on the type of coverage you have. If you aren’t specifically covered for flooding, for instance, the insurance companies won’t cover you if there is flood damage.
If you don’t have coverage for loss of rental income, you won’t be covered for those losses, so it’s very important to ensure you’re properly insured to protect YOURSELF! And that’s the important point; your insurance covers you, it doesn’t cover the tenants’ property and it also doesn’t cover the tenant if they are negligent and were the ones that potentially started a fire.
That is why it’s important the tenants themselves have renter’s insurance so they can cover the potential loss of their personal possessions.
Addressing Renter’s Insurance with Tenants
Now, many landlords ask me “When or how do I talk to tenants about their insurance?”
Ideally, this is done when you’re going through your lease with the tenant, but it can also be done as a courtesy during showings.
Many landlords make having renter’s insurance a term of the lease. This can be a great way to ensure they are adequately protected (as well as yourself), in case they do cause a problem such as a fire or significant damage due to negligence.
The challenge is, depending on your local laws, you may not be able to enforce this, so as always learn your local laws and regulations!
I typically walk tenants through renter’s insurance during the lease signing by explaining to them how insurance works and the conversation typically goes like this: ” I just want to talk about insurance with you before we go any further. I have insurance on my property, but my insurance only covers my property. That includes the building itself, the appliances and everything attached or part of the property like doors, cupboards, sheds and garages. “It doesn’t cover your belongings, your expensive stereo or TV, your computer, your clothes or any of your other possessions. That’s why you need your own renter’s insurance!”
It will cover any losses you might incur. It could cover any costs you might run into if you have to stay somewhere else if there was a fire or flooding and often, it will even replace any goods or clothing you’ve lost.”
“And most importantly, it’s usually quite inexpensive for tenants, as it doesn’t cover the building! Because of this, I’d recommend acquiring your own insurance a priority right away.”
By this point, the tenants usually understand how important it is, but it may still require following up once they have settled in. Just to make sure they actually have obtained renter’s insurance!
What Tenants May Need from You to Get Renters’ Insurance
Depending on who the insurer is, often your tenant will now need you to answer some additional questions as well.
This can include the size of the space they are renting, the type of construction of the property, the type of heating, whether there are other attached units (i.e. up/down suites, or whether it’s a condo/duplex) and possibly additional details.
To make providing this easier, you may want to include this information with any tenant packages you provide and/or you may want to keep the information handy in your property files, just for this type of occasion. You’ve likely already been required to provide this to your own insurance company, so it shouldn’t be hard to pull together.
Having an insurance conversation with your tenants can go a long way towards avoiding a particularly unpleasant conversation if you ever do have major issues, as well as pointing tenants towards a bit more peace of mind in their lives.
[Editor’s Note: For more information or for your tenants to obtain renter’s insurance, call AOA’s Group Insurance Plan at (800) 827-4262.]
Bill Biko has become “the Educated Landlord” through both training and the school of life. With almost a decades experience of land lording, Bill’s been mentoring and assisting landlords for the last five years and you can find more of his tips and articles to make your life as a landlord easier, more profitable and less stressful at www.TheEducatedLandlord.com.