In the world of insurance, nothing is as simple as it seems. There’s always one major problem: all standard or packaged plans are about the broad strokes. To correctly determine which policies suit you best, you have to read the fine print, or otherwise, you land yourself in a situation where the insurer won’t pay for the damages because you didn’t understand the terms correctly.

But when it comes to households, there are quite a few crucial distinctions. Let’s say you want to rent your house and use your homeowners insurance to safeguard against possible risks. What if the current tenants become injured on the premises and decide to sue you for damages? Will your homeowners insurance cover the costs if you’re at fault, or you should’ve gotten landlord insurance before renting?

If you’re unsure how to answer this question, we at Old Harbor believe this article can help. As experts in California home insurance and landlord insurance, we believe in our client-tailored approach and work closely with our customers to determine the best coverage options. So, let’s pit the two insurances against each other and see how they fare in our “Homeowners Insurance vs. Landlord Insurance” comparison.

Understanding Homeowners Insurance

Let’s start with the basics and explore what both insurances offer. Your standard California home insurance offers coverage only for owner-occupied property. Simply put, you’re eligible for coverage if you and your family reside on the premises.

As is standard, most plans come with the following policies attached:

• Dwelling coverage. This is the fundamental core of homeowners insurance, protecting the physical structure of your home. It comes into play when covered perils, like fire, lightning, hail, or windstorms, cause damage to your dwelling.

• Other structures. Beyond the main dwelling, homeowners insurance often extends coverage to additional structures on your property. These might include a detached garage, a fence, a shed, or other standalone structures.

• Personal property. Homeowners insurance provides protection for your personal belongings housed within your home. This encompasses everything from furniture and appliances to smaller items like clothing and kitchenware. If these items are damaged, destroyed, or stolen due to covered perils, your policy can come to your rescue.

• Loss of use/additional living expenses. In unfortunate situations where your home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered peril, loss of use coverage can ease the financial burden. It helps cover the additional living expenses you may incur while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.

• Liability coverage. Life is unpredictable, and accidents can happen on your property. Liability coverage safeguards you and your family if you are held responsible for injuries or property damage sustained by another party.

• Medical payments. Sometimes, accidents lead to injuries on your property, regardless of who’s at fault. Medical payments coverage covers the medical expenses incurred by individuals injured on your premises.

• Ordinance and law. Building codes and laws evolve. If a covered loss necessitates rebuilding or renovating your home to comply with current ordinances or laws, this coverage helps cover the additional expenses.

• Personal injury. This extends your liability coverage to protect you against certain lawsuits, such as false arrest, wrongful eviction, violation of privacy, libel, slander, and more.

Most of these policies have to do with physical property, and not a single sentence mentions the renters nor directly addresses the possible risks involved. That’s why it’s best to get landlord insurance if you have a secondary home and a willing tenant.

The Landlord Insurance Difference

So, how does landlord insurance differ? It offers coverage for tenant-occupied rental property explicitly designed for owners renting out their homes or investment properties. Unlike homeowners insurance, a landlord insurance policy caters to rental properties’ unique needs and risks.

It provides financial safeguards against natural disasters, tenant-related damages, vandalism, unpaid rent, and much more. But to put it all as simply as possible, it addresses the following:

1. Dwelling coverage. This pivotal component safeguards the physical structure of your rental property. It covers damages resulting from various perils, such as fires, storms, or other covered events. It’s the bedrock upon which the protection of your investment property stands.

2. Property liability coverage. Life’s unpredictability extends to tenant-occupied properties. Property liability coverage is your shield against legal expenses in scenarios where a tenant or visitor sustains injuries on the property and initiates legal action. Furthermore, it encompasses damage claims filed by third parties concerning your property.

3. Loss of income coverage. Also known as rental default insurance, this facet provides a crucial safety net. If your rental property becomes uninhabitable due to a covered loss, it compensates for the income you would otherwise lose during the downtime.

4. Optional coverage. Depending on your insurer and specific needs, you may have the opportunity to customize your landlord insurance further. Optional coverage options may include legal counsel and representation, coverage for landlord-owned contents (such as appliances or furnishings provided to tenants), and emergency repair services to address unexpected property issues swiftly.

On the surface, it does seem similar to homeowners insurance. But when compared with one another, what are the actual differences?

Homeowners Insurance vs. Landlord Insurance

As mentioned in the homeowners insurance section, it protects your primary residence. It fully covers your physical property and liability or medical payments. On the other hand, landlord insurance protects income-generating rental properties. It provides coverage for the dwelling and offers property liability, but it doesn’t cover the personal properties of tenants.

Personal property coverage in homeowners insurance covers many personal items, from furniture to appliances, clothing, and more. Landlord insurance policies only cover items owned by the landlord and used by the tenant, such as appliances or furniture provided with the rental property. It doesn’t cover the tenant’s personal belongings.

Liability is also treated differently. Homeowners insurance comes into effect only if a guest becomes injured or the owner causes damage to someone’s property. In contrast, a landlord insurance policy provides liability coverage if a tenant or a visitor gets injured on the property and decides to sue.

Lastly, there’s a loss of use. Your typical California home insurance pertains to additional living expenses coverage, which reimburses the policyholder for living expenses if their home becomes uninhabitable due to a covered event. For landlord insurance, loss of use relates to the loss of rental income when a covered event renders the property unfit for occupancy.

Homeowners Insurance vs. Landlord Insurance: Picking The Right Coverage With Old Harbor

With our “Homeowners Insurance vs. Landlord Insurance” comparison out of the way, how would we advise you to make the right choice? The primary factor should always be property use. California home insurance will always directly address the risks that owners experience while living on the premises, while landlord insurance provides extended rental coverage.

Legal requirements are also a significant factor; landlords must have insurance in some states. While it’s not required by law in California, you should assess your situation and weigh insurance benefits to make an informed decision.

California home insurance policy exclusions directly influence when you will or won’t get coverage. With them explained on our website, it’s in your best interest to understand them before getting into an unpleasant situation with your insurer.

Lastly, there’re always financial considerations. Maintaining a balance between adequate coverage and affordability is exceptionally challenging, especially when most insurance plans nowadays come pre-packaged. Customer service should always be paramount, but it’s not the case with some companies. We at Old Harbor, however, believe we can offer you a solution you might like.

As an independent insurance agent with extensive California law knowledge, we established three main principles that guide our day-to-day operations: comprehensive coverage, competitive rates, and a personal touch when it comes to client work.

Our diligent team will sit down with you and explore all possible coverage options, be it home or landlord insurance you may require. We will assess your situation and determine the coverage areas. As an independent agent, we’re not beholden to any particular rate. Instead, we browse the market to make a fair deal on your behalf. And, if you have any possible questions, our customer service will answer them promptly, helping you make the right call.


The “Homeowners insurance vs Landlord insurance” comparison clearly shows that although similar in some areas, these policies provide safeguards against entirely different risks. Any California home insurance deals with physical property, your belongings, and liability or medical expenses that occur while you’re occupying it. Landlord insurance covers only damages inflicted by the tenants and does help if they decide to pursue legal action against you.

Even though this information should prove sufficient when deciding on the right coverage, insurance isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for any property owner. It’s about understanding the risks and navigating the nuances that make your situation unique. Whether you’re a homeowner living in your dream house or a landlord renting out your place to a tenant, Old Harbor Insurance holds the expertise to curate insurance policies tailored to your situation.

Don’t leave your property protection to chance. Contact us today to discuss your insurance needs and make the right choice for your property. We will help you determine the best solution for your circumstances, taking the guesswork out of the equation and giving you peace of mind.