You're a landlord who has worked hard to acquire and maintain your rental properties. You know the importance of protecting your property. One potential threat is vandalism, but does landlord insurance cover this damage?
The answer isn't always clear-cut. Read on to learn more about how insurers typically handle vandalized property and what you can do to protect yourself from this costly risk.
What Is Vandalism (Malicious Intent)?
Vandalism is defined as "deliberate damage or destruction of property." It can include broken windows, graffiti, and even slashed tires in the parking area or garage. Essentially, any damage caused by someone with the intent to destroy property can be classified as vandalism.
Your insurance company may also refer to vandalism as "malicious intent." Believe it or not, vandalism on a rental property is not only done by outside parties Your tenants or their guests can also vandalize your property.
How Much Does Landlord Insurance Cover?
Most landlord insurance policies will cover up to $100,000 worth of damage caused by vandalism (unless you purchase additional coverage). However, it's important to note that most policies have a deductible—meaning you'll have to pay for the first $500–$1,000 worth of damage before your insurance policy kicks in.
For example, say someone threw a rock through one of your rental property's windows and caused $1,500 worth of damage. If you had a $500 deductible on your policy, you would have to pay the first $500 out of pocket then your insurance would cover the remaining $1,000.
In some cases, landlord insurance policies will only cover certain types of damage caused by vandalism—such as fire or smoke damage—so check with your insurer beforehand to find out exactly what is a covered event under your policy and what isn’t.
Landlord insurance typically doesn't cover intentional acts of destruction—such as if you were to deliberately set fire to your own property—so keep that in mind when deciding whether to file a claim with your insurer.
Vandalism vs. Accidental Damage
Vandalism is when somebody maliciously destroys or damages your property on purpose. But accidental damage is different.
For example, your tenant’s child is playing with friends in the backyard, and the ball goes through your window. Since it wasn't planned or intentional, the damage to your property would be considered accidental.
However, if an angry tenant damages property by throwing a stone through a window, tearing up carpeting, or punching holes in walls—that would be classified as vandalism.
Tips to Protect Your Rental Property from Being Vandalized
Sometimes bad things happen, especially in real estate investing. Luckily, you can always take measures to manage your risks and protect your investment. Below are proactive steps to help landlords safeguard their property against vandalism.
Install security systems like CCTV, motion sensors, alarms, and smart lighting throughout the property, especially in entry and exit areas.
Use top security locks and self-closing doors and gates to heighten security on your property.
Regular maintenance and landscaping of the property will help eliminate any spots vandals can use as hiding places, like long grass lawns. This step is especially important when you have a vacant rental property.
Working with a property management company or hiring a caretaker ensures you have someone available to keep a close eye on your property. Such a measure is also essential when you have a vacant property.
Knowing your neighbors and having a good relationship with them can help prevent mischievous activities happening on your property.
Not only are outsiders a vandalism threat to your property, but tenants and their guests can be a hazard too. Here are ways to take cautionary measures against both groups' malicious activities and better protect your investment.
Conduct a tenant reference check to gain insights into your prospective tenant's character. Have they had issues with other landlords? Who was their previous landlord?
Request a high security deposit to help cover repairs from any damages. Tenants are less likely to cause intentional damage with a significant amount of their money on the line as a security deposit. That said, set a reasonable amount within your state's limit that does not drive away prospective tenants.
Inspect your property regularly to let your tenants know you are always on top of things. It also allows you to catch damages quickly and avoid surprises when a tenant vacates the property.
Create a detailed inventory list, from the fixtures to appliances, stating the condition of each item on the property. Go through this list with the tenant before they move in. Have images and videos as proof. When they are moving out, you can refer to the inventory list to confirm whether any changes to items are through normal wear and tear or malicious damage.
Most importantly, have a good relationship with your tenants to increase the chance they will care for your property like it’s their own. Ensure you check on them often, keep tabs on the property's security, and make repairs as soon as they notify you.
Where Can You Find Landlord Insurance with Vandalism Coverage?
There are a few different ways for a rental property owner to find landlord insurance coverage that includes vandalism. One option is to contact insurance companies directly and ask about their coverage options. Another option is to use an online insurance broker like Obie.
Obie uses technology to streamline the insurance buying process, saving time and money.
Obie also offers coverage in all 50 states, so no matter where your rental property is located, you can find the right insurance policy for your needs. Receive an instant quote for landlord insurance simply by entering your property address on the Obie website.