WHAT INSURANCE POLICY DO I NEED AS A LANDLORD?
While owner occupiers tend to have their insurance policies cut out for them (protect your home, yourself, and your stuff), landlords don’t have it quite so easy.
How much protection are you obliged to provide for your tenants? And how do you protect yourself?
Your exposure to risk as a landlord comes from two sources: potential damage to your property and assets, and damage to your tenants. Thankfully, standard building and contents insurance and landlord’s insurance will cover you should either of those situations eventuate.
Most landlord insurance policies will cover damage made by people external to your property. So if your rental property is vandalised by strangers, your landlord policy will most likely cover the repairs. But if your tenant or their guest takes a texta to the walls, the bond is your best bet. If you feel your bond doesn’t provide enough cover, some insurers also provide extra tenant protection on top of your landlord insurance, which can cover malicious damage by your tenants or their guests, theft, or the loss of rental income if your tenants default on your rent.
In general, your lease agreement will override your insurance policy. Most basic landlord insurance policies state that the insurer will not cover fixtures and fittings that the tenant is responsible for as part of your tenancy agreement. If you are considering landlord insurance, make sure you go through your prospective policy agreement with one eye on your lease.
Some landlord insurance policies will also reimburse you for lost rental income should your property become uninhabitable due to accidental damage.
The health and wellbeing of your tenants is your other main concern as a landlord. As the owner of a leased property, you may be legally liable for accidents that happen within that site. While your legal liability cover will differ depending on your policy and provider, in effect it works like public liability insurance.
If someone is injured in your property and successfully sues you, your standard landlord’s insurance will provide $10 million worth of cover to help you pay for this. While $10 million may seem like a staggering number, consider the potential costs for disability support your tenant may have to pay if they are permanently injured on your property. Bear in mind, landlord insurance will usually not cover the costs of any legal proceedings themselves.
What protection your landlord insurance policy should offer:
- Damage from animals to the interior of your property, not including your tenants’ pets or vermin and pests
- The effects of natural disasters or fire
- Sudden and unexpected impacts, like falling trees or cars colliding with your property. Note, this normally won’t cover any damage that happens as a result of contracted works.
- Vandalism and theft by someone who didn’t have the consent of you or your tenants to enter the property
- Your legal liability for claims arising from accidents onsite which result in bodily harm or death of someone on the property, not including you or your family.
- Your legal liability for claims where your tenants’ or their guests’ property was damaged in the rental
Before you decide to become a landlord, make sure you are adequately covered. Australia has a competitive insurance market, with plenty providing landlord coverage, so take the time to shop around for comprehensive and cost-effective policy. If you aren’t sure what level of coverage is best for you, your property manager can give you some guidance.