Victims of disasters such as a hurricane or wildfire should watch out for dishonest service providers when it is time to repair or rebuild their home. A guide to protecting yourself from crooked contractors.
Being fortunate enough to own property beyond one’s personal residence is both a blessing and a huge responsibility. When you rent out your property to others, in the form of an apartment, townhouse, condo, home or other structure, that responsibility increases and so does your chance to suffer either a property or liability loss.
It is very important that you consider buying insurance that will properly protect you. Landlord insurance can be barebones or quite comprehensive. The amount and scope of coverage will vary according to what you wish to protect, the circumstances of the rental situation and the value of the applicable property.
Here are the types of coverage you should consider when deciding upon securing or adjusting your current coverage:
Landlord Building Insurance–coverage for the structure being rented including, if applicable, other structures such as sheds. Be sure that you purchase enough coverage to replace the property if it is seriously damaged.
Landlord Contents Insurance–Many landlords rent out partially or fully furnished property. Those furnishings, from appliances, to dining sets, dishes to televisions must be protected.
Legal Expenses–Sometimes rental situations deteriorate. This coverage is for the legal costs of having to deal with rental disputes, evictions, contract issues and similar, expensive problems with a tenant.
Loss of Rental Income Coverage–A loss that damages rental property usually makes that property unusable, so you need coverage for rental income that is lost while the property is replaced or repaired...
Landlord Liability Insurance–Consider a tenant who injures another person or damages another person’s property. Consider some situation on your property that causes an injury to a tenant, tenant’s guest or some other person. Landlord liability insurance can protect you against any lawsuits that such situations may create.
Blood may be thicker than water, but it is thinner than insurance contracts. An adult son or daughter may think that, when a loss happens, coverage is available from mom or dad's homeowners or auto policy. It usually isn't and finding this out after a loss makes matters much worse. Policies are typically clear. A relative is covered, but only if the relative is a full-time resident of the named insured's household. Even if the nonresident child lives next door, a parents' policy is not going to spread its coverage to take care of an adult child's belongings.
Insurance contracts are meant to handle sources of loss that can be easily identified. Person A's cars or home is protected by Person A's auto or homeowner policy. Imagine if that weren't the case.
Example: The Rabbitfield's home and cars have been insured by Plausible Fire & Casualty for 20 years. In the last five years, the Rabbitfield's children have grown and started their own households. Per the Plausible home and auto policies, the insurance premiums and two policies that covered the original family's two cars and one home, now cover the original home and cars PLUS the following:
While it might be a bargain for insurance consumers if a single auto or homeowner policy could be stretched this far, it's not likely that the insurance industry could survive such flexibility.
Being Independently Insured
Understandably, insurance is not always a priority for adult children who are now on their own. In the beginning, there's often a phase where the kids commute between "home base" and their new apartment or home and their property is at both locations. The new grown-ups typically have few possessions, especially possessions of high value, and this adds to the likelihood that insurance is overlooked or seen as unnecessary. However, even when possessions are few, EVERYONE has a legal responsibility to handle the damage they accidentally cause to other people and/or other people's property. When a child reaches adulthood, they've also reached the point where they need to get their own insurance.
If an adult child asks you for insurance advice, give them the name of one of our insurance professionals you trust to help them get the exact protection they need.
Car theft in America is down—way down! Like nearly 50 percent down in the past decade alone. However, if you’re the victim of a car theft, the only statistic that matters is that 100% of your car has been stolen.
The good news is that you can get insurance against losses due to theft—you’ll just need to opt for comprehensive coverage on your policy. And the better news? There are lots of simple, low- or no-cost ways to stop car thieves in their tracks:
* Garage it: If you have access to a garage, take the extra step to park your car there. If your car isn't on the street, it’s way less likely to be stolen.
* Don’t leave valuables in sight: Because a vehicle full of fast-food wrappers is a MUCH less tempting target for break-in artists than one with a purse, electronic devices, or other valuables stored in plain sight.
* Drive stick: Because crooks can’t steal what they can’t drive.
* Use a supplemental security device: A kill switch, The Club, a steering wheel quick-release—none of these offers complete security, but thieves tend to steer clear if it looks like it will take longer to drive off in your ride.
* Lock the doors: Do we really need to explain this one?
Are you going to let a dummy school you on car insurance?! Yes. Yes you are… that is, if you want to learn how to be a safer driver (and save money on your auto coverage).
Watch and Learn:
In recent years, a trend has gained substantially greater interest among travelers. In order to save costs and for other reasons, such as gaining a more authentic travel experience, it has become increasingly popular to temporarily rent out residential space. This may take the form of any of the following:
The rise of a dominant player represents both the newer concept and some related, significant problems. Air Bed and Breakfast (AirBNB) is a rapidly growing company that arranges for total or partial rentals of residences to travelers. Essentially, for a fee, AirBNB allows use of its website to post information on residential space availability and rental costs. The site charges a percentage of each transaction amount to both the host and guest that conclude a transaction.
The problem is that providing residential space to others for income turns the events into business transactions. Such transactions may cause issues under several areas:
Property Associations create rules that are intended to address fairness and safety among its members as well as to preserve unit value. Temporary rentals may be considered a breach of rules that could result in financial penalties and/or eviction.
What about insurance? Rentals can result in accidental loss to property as well as injuries to others. Eligibility for protection against property loss or claims or lawsuits involving injuries to others may be voided if the incidents involved business activity.
If you are considering renting out your living space, take the time to make sure that you’re not creating either legal or insurance problems.
No one wants to wake up to frozen or busted pipes. Though frozen pipes can be fixed with relative ease if caught quickly, it can also cause significant damage to your home and make you have an expensive plumbing bill. Follow these tips from the American Red Cross to protect your pipes during cold months.
Note: Please see part one of this article on the safe use of space heaters.
There are a number of simple steps to make the use of woodburning stoves safer. Adhere to the following:
As the outside weather turns cold, many turn to the use of space heaters and woodburning stoves to help fight the chill from their homes. The wintry months of December through February are the highest for reported home fires that involve heating equipment. Such fires are a sad, significant source of fire fatalities, though they are far more preferable than using dangerous sources such as ovens for home heating.
If you choose to make use of space heaters or woodburning stoves, take the time to make sure they can be used safely. Steps can be taken to minimize the chance of a tragic fire loss.
There are a number of simple steps to make the use of space heaters safer. Adhere to the following:
While self-storage units may be a useful way to de-clutter your home, having the right insurance coverage is the best way to financially protect your belongings—no matter where they are.
If you are planning to rent a storage unit for your belongings, take the following steps:
After an accident, a policyholder has to meet obligations that may affect whether an insurer pays the claim. The duties help an insurer to determine whether payment is due or how much it has to pay.
Notification–You must contact the insurance company with accident details. Notification may be through an agent and it should include the identity and contact information for any injured persons and any witnesses. Notification triggers the claims process, and it helps the insurer to control claim expenses.
Assist the insurance company–You must help the insurer with the claim's investigation, settlement or with its defense against any claim. Assistance includes sending the company copies of any accident-related material as well as participating in physical exams and interviews under oath. You’re also required to give your insurer access to all records (especially medical) related to the accident and a proof of loss statement (a document that has all loss details and information about the lost property).
Preserving damaged property–Here’s an example. Tina returns home early in the morning in her convertible and hits the huge landscape rock located in her front yard. The damage is minor, but the impact causes an alignment problem that makes it impossible to close the convertible top. Instead of moving the car into the garage or covering the car, Tina leaves it in the driveway. It sits there all day; exposed to a downpour that severely damages the car’s interior and electrical systems. The car now has to be towed to have the damage inspected when, originally, it could have been driven. Tina’s inaction complicates a once simple claim. The insurer may require Tina to handle the towing charge. The insurer may also either dispute and/or deny coverage for the damage caused by exposure-related loss.
Allow Property Inspection–A policyholder who repairs or disposes of damaged property before an insurer examination has seriously breached the insurance contract. This breach could result in an insurer refusing the claim. At one time, a policyholder could endanger coverage by any missed obligation, regardless whether the "miss" was significant. In other words, a technicality could void coverage. Today, courts have started to rule that an insurer has to show that a breach of duty has to harm (prejudice) its rights. If the insured's action (or inaction) has no effect on an insurer's position, then it can't deny coverage.
If you have any questions, your insurance agent is an excellent choice to help you properly understand your insurance policy obligations.