By Lauren Lieb
As everyone is aware, it’s a stressful time to be a landlord in this country. As a landlord, you are likely aware that rental income isn’t as steady-flowing as it was, even 6 months ago. So before going into the specifics of insurance quotes, it’s important to know that insurance rates are increasing for rental dwellings, including apartments- across the board (even if your portfolio hasn’t faced any claims, you will likely be facing an increase in premiums just because you are in the industry). For that reason, it is highly encouraged that you shop around your insurance coverages to make sure you are getting the best rates out there- with the uncertainty of rental income, it may end up saving you a lot of money!
Now, if you are a landlord, business owner, or property investor, you’re probably familiar with having to deal with your commercial insurance. While it can be a nuisance to deal with (and, let’s be honest, it’s probably not your favorite part of the job), insurance is an inevitable part of owning a property. While there are many parts of insurance that can be frustrating, one of the more common questions that I often receive is, why do I have to wait so long to receive insurance quotes? It can be very frustrating to have to wait for something that, at least in the personal-lines department (the department that takes care of your personal homeowners, renters, auto, etc.), can be turned over within a day. Sometimes, personal lines quotes can even be completed while you’re still on the phone with the agent! In this article, you’ll learn why the quoting process can take longer, and the follow-up question that we’ll also be answering in this article is this – okay, so is there anything I can do to speed up the quoting process? Good news! The short answer is yes!
First – Why do landlord insurance quotes take so long?
There is a good reason that landlord insurance quotes can take a while – for instance, up to two weeks after all the information is received – to get back to you. It isn’t because your agent or the insurance carrier wants to make you pull your hair out (even though I will concede that the insurance industry isn’t known for being an accommodating industry as a whole). The main reason lies in the underwriting process, which is much more thorough for certain industries that inherently carry more risk. One of these industries does include rental homes and apartments. (The all-encompassing term used for any sort of rental dwelling – single family homes, duplexes, apartment complexes, etc. – is “habitational” in the insurance industry. I’ll be using this term throughout the article).
The reason more thorough underwriting is done for habitational risk is simply due to the fact that people live inside these structures. Unlike insuring an office building, for example, the occupants of habitational buildings don’t just show up in the morning and return home at 5:00 (pre-pandemic, that is). They are sleeping, cooking, entertaining, and keeping their pets in the structure you own. This poses a much higher risk for claims to occur – kitchen fires, trip and falls, dog bites, plumbing back-ups, and crime scores are all major concerns to underwriters.
While underwriters are extremely busy – and, this is an important insider tip – they will prioritize your quote if they have all the information they need! Underwriters look at new quote submissions every day (that is their job, after all), and they have to make sure that the underwriting conditions are being met before they agree to insure it. Along with that, there are other pieces of information that you can provide to help speed up the process.
How can I speed up the landlord insurance process?
#1 Knowing your building updates
This is one of the best examples that could not only drastically help the quote turn-around time, but also your insurance premiums! If your building is over 30 years old, insurance carriers will ask 100% of the time when each of the following was last replaced: the roof, HVAC (if applicable), the wiring, and the plumbing. The underwriters ask to make sure the building is properly maintained. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to replace the wiring if it’s not aluminium, so if it’s up to code, just let your agent know! Finding updates done to any given building can be time-consuming and difficult, if not impossible, for anyone but the building owner, so knowing the year those four updates last occurred will save a lot of time.
#2 Providing an inspection report.
Now I know this is not likely something you’ll have on-hand, but if you are able to get a copy from your most recent inspection report, it will be extremely helpful to your insurance agent. Inspections are typically done before the property is purchased. An inspector comes out to look at the property and they make recommendations about issues that they see before you close on the property. Since they do this all day every day, it can be really helpful to have their insight. If you have an inspection report, that gives your agent more details about the property. In turn, that equips your agent with more information when they approach different markets to obtain insurance quotes.
#3 Providing a copy of your loss runs/loss history.
Another very helpful piece of information that your agent will likely ask for is for copies of your loss runs. Loss runs, sometimes called loss histories, are just an official list of claims (or “losses”) that have been filed over the past 3-5 years. More insurance carriers are making 3 years of loss history mandatory due to the increase of claims in the industry. Only your current agent has access to your loss runs, so you will have to request it from them. Due to privacy concerns, any competing agents are unable to request them on your behalf. The carrier will only release the loss run to your agent or yourself.
(Since asking for loss runs will typically trigger the agent to know you are shopping, it can be uncomfortable to ask for them. If you’re not comfortable requesting these, InsuranceHub can help you make a direct request to the carrier.)
One thing to keep in mind: While agents greatly appreciate verbal confirmation that there haven’t been losses, or verbal confirmation that there have been losses, the underwriters still prefer to see this in writing, from the insurance carrier themselves.
It’s also very helpful if you are able to provide rent rolls for the agent who’s getting your insurance quotes. Especially for apartments, rent rolls provide much of the information an agent needs to get quotes. For instance, it provides information such as monthly rental per tenant (needed for loss of rents/business income coverage), the number of units (needed for liability coverage), and square footage and number of buildings (needed for property coverage). The rent roll can also answer many questions that the agent would have to ask you directly, so it cuts down on the number of insurance questions you have to answer, too!
#5 Bearing with all the questions.
Speaking of questions …The process of getting habitational insurance comes with a lot of questions from us as agents. It might be frustrating and it might seem like the questions are endless, and sometimes unnecessary. But it is important to know that the more information the agent has, the better they can help! Agents have to make your case to the underwriters, who are very busy people. It can only help you if you’re able to give the agent more information and any supporting documents you have (inspection reports, loss runs, and rent rolls). It shows that you take the process seriously, which makes a good impression on overwhelmed underwriters who appreciate looking at risks that have all their ducks in a row. Are follow-up questions inevitable? Sometimes. But you can help your agent help you. The agent wants to get you the most accurate, tailor-fitted quote with the most competitive premium possible and is likely to ask you more questions because they have a vested interest in making sure you are properly covered for your entire exposure.
(One last important piece of information to remember: All information you provide to an insurance agent IS confidential. As agents, we do not disclose any information to any person or entity, other than the underwriters.)
Good things (and insurance quotes) come to those who wait!
To put all of that into a brief list:
- Know about your building updates (wiring, plumbing, roof, and HVAC.)
- Provide an inspection report to help your agent get more details about the property.
- Provide your loss runs, which is just a history of claims you’ve made.
- Have your rent roll ready. Again, this gives your agent more helpful information.
- Be patient with all the questions. Helping your agent will help you!
That’s what you should know about getting landlord insurance quotes, why it can take a bit of time, and how you can make the insurance process go a bit faster. It’s really important to give yourself plenty of time to get those quotes, if you have the luxury of doing so. In the long run, it will end up making the process easier on you. So, keep in mind that providing your agent with an inspection report, your loss runs, and rent roll can help the quoting process go more quickly. Really, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.