Essential Insurance for Landlords

Mar 7 06:48 2008 Jack Sternberg Print This Article

Sternberg brings his "buyers" expertise after 30+ years as a real estate investor. This article is a must read for any investor thinking about becoming a first time buyer.

As a landlord (or a prospective one),Guest Posting you need to protect yourself against the damages that can potentially occur to your properties and your overall financial health. Mostly likely, you won't need all of the forms of insurance I'm going to describe in this article; however, you should know what each one can do for you in case you ever have need of them.

On a general note, I can't stress enough the importance of having adequate insurance, especially if landlording is your entire livelihood. Compared to catastrophic losses (fire, floods, tornadoes, liability suits, etc.), insurance costs are definitely a bargain! Types of Insurance Title insurancethis establishes who owns the title and prevents you from throwing away money on a property that might legally belong to someone else.

Fire insurancedefinitely don't skimp on protection in this area! Recommendation: insure your properties for top value, or the insurance company may discount their payment. For example, if you paid $100,000 for a house and it's worth $120,000, but you insure for only $100,000, then that hundred-thousand is all you'll get.

Liability insurancebe sure to have this insurance. Recommendation: read the policy carefully and note any exclusions! If necessary, pay the extra money to have specific exceptions included in the policy. If you do any building, remodeling, or painting, you may also want to get a separate contractor's insurance policy

Extended coveragethis is also called "comprehensive" coverage or a "package policy." It's often offered along with the standard fire insurance policy, and it's an investment well worth paying for. This type of coverage can protect you from damage caused by a variety of phenomena--hail, windstorms, smoke, rioting, falling trees, vandalism, freezing temperatures, landslides, accidental water discharge from burst pipes, and so forth. Tailor the coverage to your particular geographic area. Earthquake coveragealways a separate policy. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you should definitely have this policy. Nature's power can destroy your property in a matter of seconds!

Flood insuranceinsurers consider flood damage different from water damage caused by burst pipes and such. So, if you live in a flood-prone area, be sure to have this coverage.

Vandalism/malicious mischiefcheap insurance and worth the price. It can pay for repairs caused by vandals who damage or destroy your property.

Property improvements insurancea standard building policy doesn't cover damage to such items as swimming pools, fences, signs, parking lots, and other areas. So, because weather can badly damage these items, it pays to have them covered as well.

Business interruption insurancebasically, this is "loss of rent" coverage. Here's an example: if a fire damages one of your properties, making it unlivable for a while, then you'll lose rent until that damage is repaired. In the meantime, fixed expenses keep piling up! With business interruption insurance, the insurance company compensates you for loss of rental income over a specified period.

Mortgage insurancethe purpose of this insurance is pay off the balance of your outstanding mortgage if trouble strikes. Believe me, it's well worth the price. Check with a lender for the type you need.

Boiler/machinery insurancethis is wise coverage to have with larger properties. Boiler explosions can have horrible results. Needless to say, claims can be large for these terrible accidents, and you definitely don't want to shoulder the expense. This insurance is also a good idea because the insurance company will inspect the equipment on a regular basis. In effect, the insurance company becomes your partner in maintenance and safety. Other Forms of Insurance to Consider Management insurance--if you manage properties, get management insurance so the insurance company handles any lawsuits for you.

Umbrella policy--it's called "umbrella" insurance because it's designed to give liability protection above and beyond the limits of other insurance policies; that is, it kicks in when the liability on other polices has been exhausted. Depending on the insurance company, you can get an umbrella policy with an additional one to five million in liability protection.

Workers compensation insurance--a definite must if you have employees and/or contractors working for you. Where accidents are concerned, it's better to be safe than sorry. This insurance also protects you against frivolous lawsuits.

Legal Protection--legal protection is a kind of insurance so it pays to have the services of an attorney for two reasons: To handle lawsuits. To handle insurance companies reluctant to pay in the event of covered damages.

If you find a personal lawyer too expensive, consider using pre-paid legal services. They're inexpensive, charging a monthly fee in the range of $10-30 a month. Check with the American Prepaid Legal Services Institute for a partial listing of plans and services. Or try Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. for coverage of civil cases or work-related criminal cases.

Key Point: Don't be "penny wise and pound foolish." In other words, never skimp on insurance; your property investments are too valuable to worry about saving a few dollars on premiums.

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About Article Author

Jack Sternberg
Jack Sternberg

Jack Sternberg is a nationally recognized expert on real estate investment and the creator of the renowned "Buyers First Program" who's been in the business for more than 30 years. Sternberg's deals have totaled over $750 million and he's been to the closing table more than 1,500 times. For more, visit http://www.askjacksternberg.com

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