BMR Insurance recently encountered a situation up in Laguna Beach, where a tenant of a property stripped down the home to the bare drywall and inflicted $1.5 million worth of damage. The tenant took fireplaces, railings, lights, windows, doors and every other fixture imaginable! What are homeowners and landlords to do in such a situation? We see many predicaments such as this (fortunately most are not as severe as the one we depicted), and our clients always wonder: Does homeowner’s insurance cover acts of vandalism and theft?
The answer is that standard homeowners insurance policies will generally not cover any damages inflicted by tenants; Homeowners insurance policies only cover residences lived by the actual homeowner, or to put it simply, covers only the property in which a homeowner lives. Rental properties require a different policy under a rental homeowner’s policy known as a “dwelling fire policy”. Under the dwelling fire policy, normal wear and tear damage is not covered, but preempted vandalism is. However, in order to claim vandalism, homeowners must file a police report and press charges against the offender.
Again, all insurance policies are different, so BMR Insurance recommends all homeowners and landlords to check with their insurance companies to review their policies and get a better understanding of what is and isn’t covered under their premium.
Tenant vandalism cases are tricky because homeowners will need to present proof to back their claim in order to get compensation from their insurance company. Of course this is not always possible and insurance companies might not honor the claim without proof. Alternatively, landlords could take this issue to court and sue tenants in a small claims court for damages, but even so monetary collection is still complicated and difficult to obtain. To avoid this all together, BMR Insurance recommends all landlords or homeowners who are renting their properties to enforce strict security deposit regulations, which will offer ample protection for the landlord and cover any damages caused by the tenant.
Again, remember to check with your insurance companies to see what liabilities your policy covers and doesn’t cover. For a free insurance consultation, please contact BMR Insurance today at (714) 838-1911 or visit our website at bmrins.com.