Why Protect Your Investment?

When many investors look at insurance, they simply see it as an expense item, something to drive down cash flow. While we are all looking to maximize cash flow, insurance protects the cash flow that can be obtained during the time you hold the investment.

The first thing insurance protects is the house itself, the dwelling as it is often referred. What is covered? The truth is that it varies based on what you buy. In short there are several levels of coverage. The most commonly purchased coverage for rental investment properties is the DP-3. This policy is similar to an owner occupied HO-3 policy in that it is a special form which means unless the loss was excluded, it will be covered. It is the broadest coverage you can purchase for your investment property. Typical losses like fire, theft, wind and explosion are covered under this policy. There are always some exclusions, and some of the more worrisome exclusions include flood, earthquake and landslide. In most cases, this coverage can be procured, but with a separate policy.

So you have the primary cash producing asset covered. Next are the adjacent structures. These include detached garages, sheds, fences, retaining walls, pools and anything that is that attached to the structure itself. For a lot of rental properties, your desire to insure these items may be limited; however, most DP-3 policies include a limit equal to 10% of the value of the dwelling as coverage for adjacent or “other” structures.

The next piece of coverage for landlord properties is the landlord furnishings. This includes appliances such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, microwaves, ranges or ovens, dishwashers, etc. It also includes any furniture provided to the tenants such as couches, beds, etc.

One of the most important coverage for investors is the fair rental value. If your investment property burns to the ground and you then build a new house, you are out the cash flow that you would have had otherwise received while the home is being built. Yet you are still on the hook for the mortgage. How do you protect yourself? With coverage for the fair rental value, this will pay you as if you had a renter occupying the property.

Liability coverage is a must in today’s society. As an investor you have assets you must protect. Many have learned that separating properties from personal assets in the form of LLCs is a great risk management tactic, but it’s not enough. When sued you will want liability coverage that will not only pay for damages you are legally held liable for, but will also pay for your defense costs. Both the damages and defense costs can be extremely high. As such, it is always a good idea to purchase an umbrella policy, which not only increases your limits of coverage, but also provides coverage in situations where the primary policy will not.

Finally there is medical payments coverage. What happens when someone gets hurt and incurs medical bills? Oftentimes the insurance company will actually pay for the medical damages, so as to say, “we have taken care of you, don’t sue us.”” When it comes down to it, insurance is an expense item, but an important one.

When done right it can ensure you can enjoy the cash flow from your investment for a long time to come, regardless of what mishaps occur.

Landlord Insurance Checklist Explanation

Gila Insurance Group has put together a landlord insurance checklist of things you should discuss with your insurance agent. While it’s nice to have the list, the question is why are these so important? Here we will break this down, and explain piece by piece why you need to have these conversations.

Investment Property  ______
Proper Property Valuation  ______
The Form – DP3- What’s Covered  ______
Loss Settlement Option for Home  ______
Deductible  ______
Water Backup of Sewer or Drains Coverage  ______
Earthquake  ______
Flood  ______
Ordinance and Law/Building Code Upgrade Coverage  ______

Proper Property Valuation – Did you know that there are penalties for under-insuring your investment property? There are, and if you have under-insured your home you could be getting a lower payout if you have a claim. On the other hand, over insuring your home costs you money that you don’t need to spend. So how do you get it right? There are cost estimator tools, you can speak with a contractor, appraisals sometimes make sense, but mostly they focus on the market value. What we are looking for here is the cost to rebuild the home. That means we take out the value of the land, and focus on the cost to rebuild the home.

The Form – We have spoken about this at great lengths, and have even put together a form comparison chart, but when it comes to landlord insurance policies, these things matter, and investors tend to try to save money anywhere they can to bolster revenue. Don’t mess up your policy by not getting the “special form.”

Loss Settlement – We talked about valuation and replacement cost already, but there is a second piece to this puzzle. If you don’t have the home insured at replacement cost you could be in for a big surprise if you have a claim. Look the bottom-line on a landlord insurance policy is that if there is a claim you want things replaced, right? So you want to purchase replacement cost. In some cases, that might not be available, so make sure you get a stated value or full repair cost option on your policy, but ensure you understand what is being covered.

Deductible – If you want to save money raise your deductible. How high? How much cash do you normally keep on hand? The deductible is the part of the claim you are responsible for paying. It’s the part you pay first. The question is, if you are handy and unlikely to file a claim, then why have a really low deductible?

Water back up of sewers and drains
 – water backs up in toilets, showers, and sinks. It happens. And when it happens the damage can be great. However, in most situations the damage caused by the backup of sewers and drains isn’t covered, but it can be added. Your tenants aren’t you, and are likely to not treat the house the same way you would, so this becomes a very important coverage for landlords.

Earthquake – This is always an excluded coverage, but it can be purchased. Even in California. It can be expensive, but it worth discussing so that you can make an informed decision.

Flood – Again, always excluded, but can be purchased. The truth is that every house, investment property or otherwise, is in a flood zone, some are just in a “high risk” zone. That said, MANY floods that cause damage every year are not in a “high risk” zone. Ask! It might be more affordable than you think.

Ordinance and Law – Look our politicians do crazy stuff. I have even seen green, rather than golden arches. Crazy! So what does ordinance and law or building code upgrade coverage do? If you have a loss at one of your investment properties, and the municipality requires you to make some upgrades due to an ordinance or law that has been passed in the area, this coverage will pay for the increased cost of to repair or replace the damage/home that occur in order to comply with the ordinance or law.

To get a quote on your landlord insurance property start your quote online, and let us shop for you.

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Loss Settlement Options

One of the most important insurance issues you must understand is how you will get paid if you have a claim. Its called the “loss settlement.”

Loss Settlement

I once heard someone say, that “insurance is a complicated business.” Well, at Gila Insurance we try to keep things simple. But, there are a couple of points that frustrate many consumers when it comes to claims. The first is whether or not something is covered, which we address on numerous places on this site, the second is loss settlement, and the third is valuation. Loss settlement is how the company determines what they will pay you in the event of a loss. The HOW, not the HOW MUCH. How much is important, but the how is the best place to start when determining the how much. There are several different ways a company can determine how they will pay you. The good news is that they tell you how their loss settlement options will work, before you have a claim, and you get to choose how.

  1. The Better Option – Replacement cost – This is the option that you’ll want, and the one that most people buy. Replacement Cost pays the full amount that is required to rebuild the rental property, or damaged portion of the structure, with material that is of like kind or quality. In other words, they rebuild it the way it was.
  2. The Cheaper (or worse) Option – Actual Cash value (ACV)- Yes, Actual Cash Value or ACV is a cheaper option, but the problem is that it’s cheaper for a reason. To calculate the ACV of the home, you start with the Replacement Cost; what it would cost to replace the rental property, THEN you deduct for the depreciation of the asset. While depreciation on taxes is one thing… a great thing, depreciation on an insurance settlement calculation is another, and it’s not good. Before we get to a couple of examples; in summary, Actual Cash Value is the replacement cost minus the depreciation.

Some may try to do the math to see if the discount provided for the ACV option makes sense, and for some it may, but on a larger loss the calculation of depreciation will be damaging to small investors. For larger investors with a diversified portfolio, they may be able and willing to absorb the cash hit. However, even larger investors can get hit hard by Actual Cash Value settlement options on larger losses, especially when roofs, walls, flooring etc., etc. are damaged, all at the same time.

Bottom-line, most investors will be better off with the replacement cost option, which also helps to eliminate confusion and complications when there is a claim.

To get an incredible quote these coverage sections start our online quote form. To Talk to a licensed agent about this coverage call us at 1-877-784-6787.

This coverage explanation is for illustration purposes only and is general in nature. Coverage explained here may not apply to your policy, State, company, or situation. For more information about how your policy would respond in the event of a loss, please refer to the terms and conditions and declarations page of your policy.