Rental Property Insurance Essential Home Insurance Tips

January 30, 2024

Having adequate home insurance coverage is crucial for landlords with rental properties. Unlike owner-occupied homes, investment properties face unique risks and exposures that require specialized insurance protection. As a landlord, it's important to understand what standard home insurance policies cover and what key coverages need to be added. This guide explains the basics of rental property insurance and how to ensure your investment has sufficient coverage.

Having adequate home insurance coverage is crucial for landlords with rental properties. Unlike owner-occupied homes, investment properties face unique risks and exposures that require specialized insurance protection. As a landlord, it’s important to understand what standard home insurance policies cover and what key coverages need to be added. This guide explains the basics of rental property insurance and how to ensure your investment has sufficient coverage.

With rental properties, accidents and damage can occur at any time, even when the property is vacant in between tenants. From fire and flooding to theft and vandalism, rental homes are vulnerable to an array of potentially costly disasters. Having the proper home insurance coverage keeps landlords protected financially when the unexpected happens. It also demonstrates responsible property management and risk mitigation to tenants. Furthermore, many mortgage lenders require rental properties to carry adequate insurance as a condition of financing. Overall, home insurance for landlords helps safeguard rental investments against loss and liability. This gives valuable peace of mind that enables focusing on other aspects of property management.

Types of Coverage in Rental Property Insurance

Rental property insurance usually includes several standard types of coverage:

Dwelling Coverage

Dwelling coverage insures the physical structure of the rental property against damage from covered perils like fire, storms, vandalism, and more. It covers repairs and rebuilding costs up to the dwelling limit. This is one of the most important coverages for rental properties.

Personal Property Coverage 

Personal property coverage insures items within the rental unit that are not permanently attached. This can include appliances, furniture, decor, and more. The personal property limit should be high enough to replace all these contents.

Loss of Rent Coverage

Loss of rent coverage reimburses the lost rental income if the property becomes uninhabitable due to a covered incident. It covers the fair rental value during repairs up to the loss of rent limit. This ensures rental income is not lost.

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage protects against bodily injury and property damage claims from third parties. It covers legal defense costs and settlements up to the liability limit. This is crucial protection against tenant injuries or lawsuits. Umbrella insurance can provide additional liability limits above the policy amount.

Factors That Affect Cost

The cost of home insurance for a rental property can vary widely depending on several key factors:

Location of the property – Insurance rates are heavily influenced by location. Properties in high-risk areas for disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, etc. will have much higher premiums. Urban areas also tend to have higher rates than rural areas due to increased risk of theft, vandalism, accidents, etc.  

Age and condition of the home – Older homes generally cost more to insure than newer homes due to wear and tear issues. Homes that are poorly maintained or have existing damage will also have higher premiums. Newer homes with updated roofs, plumbing, electrical, HVAC systems, etc. often qualify for discounts.

Claims history – Making frequent claims will cause premiums to rise over time. Having past claims for severe damage will also increase costs. Landlords with long periods of no claims may qualify for claims-free discounts from some insurers. Maintaining a loss-free record helps keep rates down.

Getting Quotes

One of the keys to finding the best rate on rental property insurance is to get quotes from multiple providers. There are a couple main options for obtaining quotes:

Independent Insurance Agents – An independent agent works with multiple insurance companies and can provide you with rate comparisons from different providers all in one place. This allows you to easily compare your options side-by-side. Independent agents will shop rates on your behalf to find the most competitive pricing.

Captive Insurance Agents – A captive agent only represents one insurance carrier. While they may be able to get you a quote quickly and easily, you won’t be able to compare rates between multiple companies. To get rate comparisons, you’d need to contact several captive agents separately.

When shopping for home insurance for a rental property, it’s highly recommended to get at least 3 quotes from different insurance providers. Rates can vary widely between companies, so taking the time to shop around is crucial. An independent agent makes this process easier by providing rate comparisons in one place.

Be sure to provide the same coverage details to each provider when requesting quotes. This includes things like the property type, location, number of units, reconstruction cost, and desired coverage types and limits. Standardizing this information allows for an apples-to-apples rate comparison.

It’s also important to review the quotes carefully and make sure you are comfortable with the insurer’s financial strength, customer service reputation, and claims handling process. Don’t just choose the cheapest rate without doing a little research on the provider first.

Getting multiple quotes takes a bit more time upfront, but can save you hundreds of dollars per year on your rental property insurance. Take advantage of an independent agent to simplify the process and be sure to compare several rates. A small time investment can pay big dividends in insurance savings.

Common Exclusions  

Most insurance policies for rental properties contain some standard exclusions. These are damages or losses that the policy does not cover. Some of the most common exclusions to be aware of include:

Flood Damage

Damage from flooding is typically excluded under a standard home insurance policy. Since flooding can cause catastrophic damage, insurers consider it too risky to include flood coverage in a basic policy. If your rental property is at risk for flooding, you’ll need to purchase separate flood insurance. This is usually available through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Earthquake Damage

Similar to flood damage, earthquake damage requires its own separate policy add-on or rider. Standard rental property insurance does not cover any damage resulting from earth tremors or seismic activity. This includes damage from the shaking itself, surface ruptures, collapsed buildings or foundations, and more. Earthquake coverage is advisable for rental properties located in high-risk zones.

Tenant Negligence

Your rental property policy may not cover any damage that results from your tenant’s negligent or improper use of the property. For example, if your tenant causes a fire by smoking in bed or intentionally punches holes in the walls, those damages would not be covered. The policy is designed to protect against accidents and natural events outside the tenant’s control. Damage they directly cause through negligence or intent is often excluded.

Limits and Deductibles 

When purchasing home insurance for a rental property, you’ll need to choose the coverage limits and deductible amounts that make the most sense for your situation.  

Choosing Coverage Limits

The coverage limits are the maximum payout amounts that your insurance company will pay if you have a claim. For rental properties, experts often recommend getting replacement cost coverage rather than actual cash value. Replacement cost coverage pays the full amount to rebuild or repair the damaged parts of your property. Actual cash value only pays the depreciated value. 

Some key coverage limits you’ll choose include:

– Dwelling coverage: The limit for damage to the physical structure.

– Other structures: Damage to structures like garages, sheds, fences.

– Loss of rents: Reimbursement for lost rental income.

– Liability: Covers injuries for guests. Usually $100,000 minimum.

Consider how much it would cost to fully rebuild the rental if totally destroyed. Check with your insurer on estimating tools. Also account for construction cost increases.

Higher vs. Lower Deductibles 

The deductible is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in. Common deductible amounts are $500, $1000, and $2500. 

Higher deductibles lower your premiums but mean more money out of pocket per claim. Lower deductibles cost more monthly but reduce financial risks if you need to file a claim.

Evaluate your budget and how much you could afford per claim. For rental properties, some insurers may require minimum deductibles of $1000 or higher.

Filing Claims

The process for filing a claim on your rental property insurance policy begins by promptly notifying your insurance company of the loss or damage. Most policies require you to notify them as soon as possible, often within a certain number of days. 

When you file the claim, the insurance company will ask questions about what happened and may request documentation to support the claim. Having the following documents ready can help expedite the claims process:

– Copy of the policy

– Photos and/or video documenting the damage 

– Police report number if applicable

– Estimates for repairs from licensed contractors

– Receipts for temporary repairs or housing if displaced

Thoroughly documenting the damage and losses upfront makes it easier to support the amount claimed during the adjuster’s investigation. Keep copies of all correspondence and paperwork for your records. 

Respond promptly to all requests from the adjuster assigned to the claim. Be as detailed as possible in describing the extent of damage and how it was discovered. For significant claims, the adjuster may want to inspect the property in person after initial review. 

The documentation and evidence provided will determine the amount the insurance company agrees to reimburse. Therefore, it’s crucial to fully document all damage and repair expenses related to the claim. Rushing through the process or failing to provide adequate proof of loss could result in denial of certain parts of the claim.

Having organized records and acting quickly to notify the insurer can help expedite payment of covered damage and losses. Working collaboratively with the adjuster while clearly evidencing the claim amounts can make the claims settlement process smoother.


Rental properties may qualify for certain discounts on home insurance that can help reduce the premiums. Here are some of the common discounts available:

Multi-Policy Discounts

– Insurers will often provide a discount of 5-15% for bundling multiple insurance policies together. Having your rental property insurance with the same company as your personal home or auto policy can lead to savings.

Protective Devices Discounts

– Adding safety features like smoke detectors, fire alarms, sprinklers, and burglar alarms can earn discounts of 5-15%. Security systems with monitoring may save the most.

Newer Systems Discounts

– Upgrading the electrical, plumbing, roofing, and HVAC can qualify for discounts up to 10%. Newer systems lower the risk of losses from electrical fires, water damage, roof leaks, and system breakdowns. Providing proof of updates can help secure savings.

The key is to ask your insurer about any discounts for protective devices, new systems, or bundling. Multi-policy bundles and modern safety features are commonly rewarded with lower rates for rental properties.


Bundling your home insurance policy with other insurance policies you have can help you save money on your premiums. Many insurance companies offer discounts when you bundle multiple policies together. 

For landlords, one of the best bundling options is to bundle your rental property insurance policy with your landlord insurance policy. Landlord insurance (sometimes called rental property owner’s insurance) protects you against claims of property damage or injury from your tenants. 

Bundling these two complementary policies together gives you a more complete protection package for your investment property. More importantly, insurance companies reward your loyalty by discounting your premiums when you bundle. Discounts typically range from 5-15% off each policy when bundled.

The more policies you can bundle together, the higher your savings may be. Some other policies you may be able to bundle with your rental property insurance include:

– Your primary home insurance policy

– Your auto insurance policy 

– An umbrella liability insurance policy

– Any other rental properties you own

When getting quotes for your rental property insurance, always ask what bundling discounts are available. Comparing the discount bundles across insurers can lead to significant savings. Just make sure you are comparing similar coverage limits and deductibles across providers for an apples-to-apples price comparison.

Alternatives Like Self-Insurance 

Renting out property can be a risky endeavor, so having proper insurance is crucial. However, some landlords choose to self-insure their rental properties either fully or partially instead of purchasing traditional insurance policies. Here’s an overview of alternatives like self-insurance to consider:


Self-insuring means not buying any insurance and instead paying for losses and damages out of pocket as they occur. 


– Potentially lower overall costs if few major losses occur

– More control over claim payouts


– Full financial liability for all losses and damages  

– Unpredictable and potentially very high costs if major losses occur

– Tenants may prefer renting from landlords with insurance 

Captive Insurance

Captive insurance is when a landlord sets up their own insurance company to insure their properties. Premiums paid go into a reserve to pay future claims.


– More control over policies and coverages

– Potentially lower premiums over time


– High upfront costs of creating a captive insurer

– Still carries financial risks and liability

– Complex to set up and manage

Self-insuring and captive insurance allow more control but also more risk. For most landlords, purchasing insurance from an established provider is simpler and offers more financial protection. But alternatives like self-insurance could be an option depending on your appetite for risk and ability to shoulder financial losses.

Scroll to Top