Student landlord insurance: six ways to make sure you get the cover you need
Today’s student population may be better behaved than their predecessors, but landlord insurance for student lets is still a must-have. In fact, insuring your property is good practice no matter who you’re renting to.
The vast majority of claims we receive are the result of unforeseen events, such as burst pipes, storms, break-ins or subsidence. While there are things that landlords and tenants can do to reduce the likelihood of these things from happening, they can never be ruled out entirely. This makes landlord insurance essential to provide peace of mind and protect your investment.
But what should student landlords insure themselves against? And what do you need to tell your insurance provider in order to make sure you’re covered?
How to choose the right landlord insurance provider for student lets
Every insurer is different. They will price their policies according to the claims they receive. If an insurer sees that they’re receiving a high number of claims from landlords with a particular type of tenant, they’ll increase the premiums for that type of tenant. Similarly, if certain circumstances increase the risk of claims occurring – such as leaving your property empty for a few months each year – they’ll adjust their policies to compensate for that.
For student landlords, there are two key things you need to know when choosing the right landlord insurance provider for student lets. First, do they increase their landlord insurance premiums for student tenants? Some insurance providers do, others don’t.
The second is the length of ‘unoccupancy period’ that is covered, which we’ll discuss in more detail later on. In short, you want an occupancy period that will cover the property being empty over the summer when student properties are often empty. For this reason, ‘unoccupancy periods’ of up to 90 days are preferable to those which only cover up to 30 days.
Asking these two questions will help make sure you get cost-effective cover that’s a good fit for the student rental cycle.
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1. Tell your insurer you’re renting to students
Your insurer should always know the type of tenant that you’re renting to, including whether they’re international or UK students. You should also tell your insurer how many tenants will be living in your property.
Students often lead active social lives and the increased number of guests and parties can create added risk for insurers. As a result, some insurers will adjust their terms, cover and pricing for student lets. However, irrespective of whether your insurer will charge you more, keeping information from your insurer can invalidate your policy.
2. Public liability and landlord’s liability
If a tenant or one of their guests slips and falls inside your property, they could try and sue you as the owner. As mentioned, students tend to invite more guests into their homes than other tenants, which increases the risk of this happening – especially if alcohol is added to the mix. Public liability can protect you from injury or damage claims and cover the costs of any compensation and legal fees you may need to pay.
3. Property damage caused by tenants
Always check the level of cover for damage caused by tenants. You’d be surprised how many landlord insurance policies don’t cover this, or only offer minimal cover. This should include damage to the property as well as any furniture and fittings provided, such as beds, wardrobes, fridges, freezers and washing machines. The causes covered ought to include malicious damage and theft.
4. The level of theft or break-in cover
Most landlord insurance policies cover theft. But some will only cover it if there are signs of forced or violent entry. This can be problematic. If one of your tenants leaves their window open and someone climbs through, or a tenant loses their keys and someone uses them to gain access, your cover won’t be valid. It’s always worth asking to make sure that the level of cover matches your expectations, so that you’re not left with a nasty surprise if you need to make a claim.
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5. Check the unoccupancy period
Students tend to move out in June and move in towards the end of September. Sometimes they move back into the same property. More often than not they move on. Either way, this means that a lot of student properties are vacant over the summer months.
Given the recent complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s likely that much of the student landlord property in the UK was left unoccupied from the end of March onward.
However, while the pandemic has had a major impact on international students, occupancy rates for private rented property have remained solid. Indeed, with the negative media coverage surrounding COVID outbreaks in halls of residence, there might be an increase in demand for private rented student property.
It remains to be seen whether or not students will be claiming en masse for COVID-related problems, but more common reasons for claims, such as break-ins or burst pipes, are more likely to occur when properties are left empty. For this reason, most landlord insurance policies will only cover severe property damage from extreme circumstances – fire, lightning, explosions, earthquakes, smoke and aircraft crashes.
Landlords who only have access to this sort of cover aren’t covered for more common events such as burst pipes and break-ins.
Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance’s unoccupancy period lasts up to 90 days on the Premier policy. In most cases, this will cover the whole summer. However, some policies will restrict their cover after 30 days, leaving landlords without cover for certain kinds of claims throughout July and August.
6. Your policy covers your property, not your tenants’
It’s worth reminding tenants that your landlord insurance doesn’t extend to their belongings. If they want to cover theirs, they can purchase contents insurance separately to do so.
In our experience, student tenants don’t increase the likelihood of claims being made.
So we don’t increase premiums for student landlords. We also offer ‘unoccupancy’ periods of up to 90 days, rather than the standard 30 on our Premier policy.
Ultimately, our landlord insurance offers cost-effective cover designed to suit the student rental cycle. Find out how much you can save with a quote.