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Protect Your Vacant Investment Properties

Property investors who own rental properties, or who buy, renovate and resell homes, may occasionally find they have vacant properties on their hands. If your property is vacant, it could be a magnet for trouble, attracting thieves, vandals, squatters, even neighborhood kids looking for a place to hang out. Here are seven steps to take to protect your vacant investment properties:

1. Secure the property

Make it hard to get in by ensuring doors and windows have sturdy locks, and keep them locked! If a tenant has recently moved out, have the locks changed or re-keyed. You may also consider reinforcing exterior doors with metal doorjamb or hinge shields in case someone tries to kick down the door.

2. Monitor and maintain the exterior

Check on your vacant property frequently to make sure it’s secure. Keep landscaping tidy by pruning shrubs and keeping lawns mowed. Make sure plants and trees don’t provide hiding spots or cover for thieves or vandals. Remove any mail or newspapers that arrive—nothing says no one is home more quickly than a stack of newspapers in a driveway or an overflowing mailbox.

To guard against fire, remove any flammable debris around the structure, including construction materials, dead vegetation, paper, cardboard, and so on.

3. Light the property at night

To deter thieves and vandals, make sure your property has working exterior lighting, either on a motion sensor or a timer. In addition, have a few lights on timers inside the property to help it make it look like someone is there. These simple measures can make a casual thief or vandal think the property is occupied.

4. Set up an alarm system

In some cases, you may want to set up security cameras or an alarm system to protect your investment property. Even if you don’t have an alarm system, simply placing a sign or sticker saying you do may help to deter thieves.

5. Make friends with the neighbors

If possible, become friendly with the neighbors near your property. They can act as an extra set of eyes and ears when you’re not around. Give them contact information, yours or your property manager’s, to call regarding any suspicious activity.

6. Advertise wisely

While you want potential buyers or renters to know your property is available, you should be careful about how you share information. Don’t share too much with people calling or inquiring online. Some professional thieves locate vacant properties to hit this way. You’ll probably want to leave a For Sale sign up, but you might consider whether leaving a For Rent sign at your vacant property may attract unwanted attention.

7. Carry insurance

Vacant properties and properties being renovated still need insurance coverage, to protect the structures themselves, and your liability as a property owner. You may need a builder’s risk policy that provides coverage for damage to the insured structure and liability coverage during renovation. Or perhaps you need a vacant dwelling policy, which covers properties that do not meet the requirements for a builder’s risk policy, properties that are between tenants, or those waiting for a buyer. If you have any questions about what type of insurance you need…

We can help!

The agents at L & M Insurance Group have years of experience working with property investors, and we’re familiar with the insurance requirements of properties purchased in the name of an entity such as a land trust, LLC, or corporation. We are proud to partner with companies that also understand your needs—like REInsurePro, an insurance program specifically designed with real estate investors in mind.

Please allow us to help you with all your insurance needs including protecting your vacant property. You may reach us by phone (813-672-4100) or contact us online by clicking here. For more than 30 years, L & M Insurance Group has been serving the personal and commercial insurance needs of Riverview, Brandon, Tampa, Apollo Beach, Gibsonton and surrounding communities.

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Property Investors: Do You Have the Right Insurance?

As a property investor, your insurance needs are more complex than the average homeowner. Some insurance agencies are unfamiliar with the requirements of investment properties, particularly ones purchased in the name of an entity such as a land trust, LLC, or a corporation. At L & M Insurance Group, we have a lot of experience working with property investors and others with complex real estate insurance needs.

Types of Investment Property Insurance

Whether you intend to buy an investment property and flip it, or install a tenant, we represent many companies who are happy to insure your investment property. These companies offer a variety of policies tailored to the needs of property investors, including:

 

DP3 Dwelling Fire—Dwelling Fire policies provide coverage for residential buildings that are not owner occupied, but are usually rented to others. The most popular version of this policy is called a DP3. It provides coverage for the building’s structure from all perils except those specifically excluded in the policy, as well as personal liability and loss of use. It is also a replacement cost policy, and we consider it one of the best non-owner occupied policies on the market.

Builder’s Risk—This policy provides coverage for damage to the insured structure and liability coverage during a renovation period. We can write these policies in terms of two, three, four, five, six, or 12 months. Renovations need to improve the property by 50 percent of its value to qualify for a Builder’s Risk policy, so if your property renovations are only cosmetic, you may insure your property with a Vacant Dwelling policy (see below).

 

Vacant Dwelling—In addition to being appropriate for a property that doesn’t qualify for a Builder’s Risk policy, Vacant Dwelling also provides coverage for property investors who own rental property and are between tenants or are trying to sell a property no one lives in.

 

Ready to insure your Property

So whether you’re a property investor who buys and flips homes or one who rents to tenants, we’ve got you covered, even during the renovation process. Please call L & M Insurance Group at 813-672-4100 or email us if you’d like to know more about how we can help you protect your investments. For more than 30 years, L & M Insurance Group has helped customers within Riverview, Brandon, Gibsonton, Apollo Beach and the Tampa Bay area.

Why You May Need a Vacant Dwelling or Builder’s Risk Policy

Insurance Policies to Protect your Vacant Dwelling in Brandon, Tampa, Riverview and Surrounding Florida

Vacant Dwelling Builder's Risk Policy Brandon, Tampa FloridaEmpty buildings or buildings under construction or renovation present some unique concerns. An empty home or other building can be a magnet for vandalism, and if someone isn’t living there, a small leak could easily become a big flood. Empty buildings are just as likely to be affected by fire, wind, or lightning. Standard homeowner’s or commercial insurance policies may not cover you if the insured building is vacant. Certain remodeling projects, and residential and commercial construction jobs require specialized insurance policies. At L & M Insurance Group, we have the experience and knowledge to help you with your unique needs.

Here are two types of policies that might apply to your situation:

A vacant dwelling policy covers your home if it is left vacant for a certain length of time, usually at least 60 days.

A Builder’s Risk policy covers a building under construction. It can cover just the building itself, or also the materials at the job site for use in construction of the building. Coverage limits should be for the completed value of the structure, less the value of the land. The policy can be written for as short a term as one month all the way up to 6 months or a year. The policy can also be extended if construction is not finished in time, or be cancelled if the building is finished before the end of the policy term.

Let’s look at some scenarios in which you should have a vacant dwelling or builder’s risk policy:

Vacant dwelling

  • You’ve bought a home, but for some reason you can’t move in yet—you haven’t sold your old home, or, conversely, you’ve moved to your new home and need an insurance policy to cover your previous home until it sells.
  • You own a commercial building or rental property that currently has no tenant.

Builder’s risk

  • You bought a home as investment, intending to have renovations done before selling it, and it will remain vacant until you sell.
  • You’re building a home from the ground up.
  • You bought a bank-owned home you’re renovating before you move in.

Unlike many agencies, at L & M Insurance Group, we have a lot of experience working with property investors and others with complex real estate insurance needs. We understand and are familiar with the situations that require these types of policies. Please contact us so we can tailor the right policy for your unique builder’s risk or vacant dwelling needs in Tampa, Brandon, Riverview and all of Florida.