Landlord insurance and homeowners insurance serve different purposes and are designed for different types of property ownership. Here’s a breakdown of the primary differences:
- Purpose Differences:
- Homeowners Insurance: It’s designed for properties where the owner resides. It covers the structure, personal property, and usually includes liability protection for the homeowner against accidents that may happen on their property.
- Landlord Insurance: Designed for properties that are rented out to tenants. It provides coverage for the building and typically includes liability coverage for the property owner, but not for the tenants’ belongings.
- Coverage Differences:
- Dwelling: Both types cover the physical structure, but landlord insurance might provide specialized coverage for rental-specific incidents.
- Personal Property: Homeowners insurance typically offers extensive coverage for personal property inside the home. In contrast, landlord insurance will cover only property owned by the landlord that remains in the rental unit, such as appliances or furniture provided for the tenant’s use.
- Loss of Rental Income: Landlord insurance often includes coverage for loss of rental income, which can reimburse the landlord if the property becomes uninhabitable due to a covered event, and the landlord loses rental income as a result. Homeowners insurance does not offer this since the owner-occupant isn’t collecting rent.
- Liability: Both policies offer liability coverage, but landlord insurance is designed to protect against liability claims that might arise from rental activities.
- Additional Coverages:
- Landlord Insurance: Policies can often be tailored with additional coverages specific to landlords, such as vandalism by tenants, eviction costs, or legal fee coverage.
- Homeowners Insurance: Might include additional living expenses, which can cover costs if a homeowner needs to temporarily move out because of damage caused by a covered risk.
- Cost Difference: Landlord insurance is typically more expensive than a standard homeowners insurance policy. This is because landlords face unique risks related to having tenants, potential periods of vacancy, and other rental-related exposures.
- Requirement: If you’re renting out a property, your mortgage lender might require you to switch from a homeowners policy to a landlord policy, as the risk profiles are different.
- Tenant’s Insurance: It’s worth noting that while landlord insurance covers the structure and the landlord’s property, it doesn’t cover the tenant’s personal belongings. As a best practice, landlords often encourage or even require their tenants to have renters insurance to protect their personal items and provide liability coverage.
In summary, the primary difference lies in the intended use of the property. If you live in the property, a homeowners policy is appropriate. If you’re renting it out, a landlord policy is more suitable, offering coverages tailored to the risks associated with rental properties. If you transition from living in a home to renting it out (or vice versa), it’s crucial to adjust your insurance coverage accordingly.