There are nearly 800,000 renter-occupied homes in the state of Washington. In fact, according to the most recent census, rental properties make up approximately 35 percent of all housing in this state. If you are one of the many property-owners who lease out homes in Washington, a suitable landlord insurance policy can help protect your investment. Regardless of whether you are renting out a traditional family home in Tacoma, a luxury apartment in Bellevue, or a studio flat on a short-term lease to a visiting professor in Pullman, this coverage is necessary to prevent undue financial losses.
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Median Gross Rent in Washington’s Largest Cities, 2011
- Seattle: $1,024
- Spokane: $693
- Tacoma: $883
- Bellevue: $1,331
- Everett: $892
- Kent: $973
- Yakima: $726
- Renton: $1,055
Why Lessors in Washington Need Landlord Insurance
If you are a new landlord, you may be surprised to learn that traditional homeowners insurance policies will not cover damages to properties that were occupied by tenants at the time that the damage occurred. In order to be fully covered against loss and damage, as well as liability expenses associated with your rental property, you need to carry a landlord insurance policy.
As a landlord, you are not responsible for providing coverage for the property owned by your tenants. They will need to obtain this coverage on their own through a renters insurance policy. You are, however, expected to cover any damages that may occur to the structure of the rental home, as well as to any of your own personal property, such as appliances and fixtures, that are included with the home. You will also want to be sure that you are suitably covered against your increased liability risks.
The first time you request landlord insurance quotes for your Washington properties, you will likely find the rates to be higher than what you had expected. Landlord insurance rates are usually about 20 to 25 percent higher than traditional home insurance rates, even though you are purchasing less in the way of contents coverage. This is because there are greater inherent risks involved when you have renters residing in your property.
What Landlords in Washington Are Charging for Rent
- Less than $200: a total of 31,180 renters, making up 3.9%
- $200 to $299: a total of 26,850 renters, making up 3.4%
- $300 to $499: a total of 130,788 renters, making up 16.4%
- $500 to $749: a total of 289,892 renters, making up 36.4%
- $750 to $999: a total of 171,787 renters, making up 21.6%
- $1,000 to $1,499: a total of 87,199 renters, making up 11.0%
- $1,500 or more: a total of 24,252 renters, making up 3.0%
- No cash rent: a total of 33,575 renters, making up 4.2%
- The median cost to rent a home in Washington: $663
Landlord Insurance Protects Against Liability
One of the most important features of landlord insurance is the liability coverage it provides. This coverage is designed to protect you if your tenant, or one of your tenant’s guests, is injured or suffers property damage and it can be demonstrated that negligence in upkeep on your part is to blame. This can include such things as problems with carbon monoxide leaks, to a fall on poorly maintained stairwells.
Liability coverage will also protect you if your tenants engage in unlawful activity on your property. This can range from stealing cable, to manufacturing and distributing illegal substances. As the property owner, you can be held liable for damages as a result of these crimes.
Fortunately, a landlord insurance policy may be able to cover these damages, as well any associated court costs or legal defense fees, up to your coverage limit.
Landlord Insurance Covers Against Property Loss and Damage
Any time you have a renter-occupied home, you can expect the property to show a reasonable amount of wear-and-tear. Unfortunately, tenants sometimes cause damages that go well beyond what one would consider reasonable. This might happen if they are careless with cigarettes or candles, allow sinks to overflow, or even if they fail to report a treatable problem, such as a pest infestation, to you before it becomes a serious problem. Your landlord insurance policy may be able to compensate you for the resultant damages.
In addition, certain weather events, such as a severe thunder storm or even a tornado, can lead to damages both to the structure of your rental home and to any of your personal property that you include within the home. Landlord insurance covers most weather-related events, with the exclusion of floods and earthquakes. For these, you will need to purchase separate flood and earthquake insurance policies in order to be fully covered.
Finally, property crimes, such as burglary and vandalism, may result in loss or damage to your rental home. You are not responsible for compensating your tenants for their personal belongings if they are lost or damaged as a result of crime, but you will need to cover the costs to repair any of your own damaged property, including the home. Your landlord insurance policy may be able to compensate for these damages as well.
Washington Burglary Statistics
- There were nearly 61,000 burglaries reported in this state in 2012
- The national burglary rate is 6.70 burglaries per every 1,000 residences
- The Washington burglary rate is 8.80 burglaries per every 1,000 residences
- The WA city with the highest burglary rate is Spokane, with 18.03 burglaries per every 1,000 residences
- The safest WA cities are Kahlotus, Cathlamet, Ocean Park, Colton and Wilbur
Property crime in Washington is higher than the national average, and this will be reflected in the premiums assigned to landlord insurance policies. Of course, for those with properties in areas with higher property crime rates, such as Spokane and Yakima, the premium will be higher than for those with properties in Bellevue and Kahlotus.
It Is Easy to Compare Landlord Insurance Quotes in Washington
Comparing landlord insurance quotes for your Washington rental property is necessary if you want to be sure that you are getting a comprehensive policy at a reasonable rate. Working with an insurance agent in the Trusted Choice® network can help you streamline the comparison-shopping process. These independent agents can work with several different highly-rated insurance companies to quickly and easily provide you with an assortment of policies and rates from which to choose.
Contact a Trusted Choice agent in or near your Washington neighborhood to learn more about landlord insurance. Your agent can help you start comparing quotes in no time.