Understanding the differences between landlord insurance and homeowners insurance is crucial, especially when it comes to costs. These two types of insurance serve distinct purposes, and selecting the wrong one can lead to inadequate coverage and unexpected expenses. In this guide, we’ll break down the cost differences and considerations to help you choose wisely. 

At Old Harbor Insurance, we offer tailored advice and competitive rates, ensuring you get the best coverage for your property, whether you’re in California or anywhere across the country. Let’s explore which insurance might cost you more and ensure your investment is protected.

Understanding Landlord and Homeowners Insurance

When exploring landlord insurance vs homeowners insurance costs, it’s essential to understand the basic definitions and primary purposes of these two types of policies. 

Homeowners insurance is designed to protect the owner’s primary residence, covering a wide range of risks including property damage from incidents like fire and theft, and liability in case someone is injured on the property. 

This coverage generally includes the structure of the home, personal belongings inside it, and costs associated with loss of use—meaning if your home is damaged and you need to live elsewhere during repairs, the insurance may cover temporary housing and meals.

On the other hand, landlord insurance is specifically tailored for properties that generate rental income. While it also covers the building itself against similar risks as homeowners insurance, it typically does not cover the personal belongings of tenants. Instead, landlord policies focus more on loss of rental income coverage. This means if your rental property is uninhabitable due to a covered peril, you are compensated for lost rental earnings.

Key Differences in Coverage

When comparing Landlord Insurance vs Homeowners Insurance Costs, it’s crucial to highlight the specific areas where coverage significantly diverges between these two insurance types:

Personal Property Coverage

  • Homeowners Insurance: This insurance typically offers comprehensive coverage for the homeowner’s personal belongings. This includes items inside the home such as furniture, electronics, and personal effects, which are covered against a variety of risks like theft, fire, and water damage.
  • Landlord Insurance: Unlike homeowners insurance, landlord insurance generally does not include coverage for the personal belongings of tenants. Landlords are encouraged to cover property that serves the rental unit, such as appliances and furniture used by tenants, but it’s essential for tenants to secure their own renters insurance to protect their possessions.

Loss-of-Use vs. Loss-of-Rent

  • Homeowners Insurance: Loss-of-use coverage is a key component, which helps homeowners manage additional living expenses if their residence is temporarily uninhabitable due to a covered peril. This can include costs like hotel bills and meals if you are displaced from your home during repairs.
  • Landlord Insurance: In contrast, landlord insurance provides loss-of-rent coverage. This is critical for property owners relying on rental income; if a rental property cannot be occupied because of damage from a covered risk, this coverage compensates the landlord for the lost rental income during the repair period.

These distinctions are fundamental in guiding property owners in selecting the appropriate insurance based on their situation and ensuring adequate protection against potential financial losses. Understanding the specific protections each type of insurance offers can greatly influence the decision-making process for both current and prospective property owners.

Cost Comparison

When considering Landlord Insurance vs Homeowners Insurance Costs, it’s important to examine not only the average prices nationally but also the factors that influence these costs.

Average Costs Nationally

On average, landlord insurance is about 25% more expensive than homeowners insurance. This reflects the higher risk associated with renting out property compared to occupying it yourself. 

For example, homeowners insurance costs around $1,754 annually, while landlord insurance for the same property can average around $2,192 per year​​. These figures can vary significantly based on several variables, including the location and characteristics of the property.

Factors Influencing Costs

  • Property Location: The location of a property plays a crucial role in determining insurance costs. Properties in areas prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, or wildfires might see higher insurance premiums. Additionally, urban areas might have higher rates due to increased risks of vandalism and theft.
  • Property Size and Type: Larger properties or those with unique features (like swimming pools or guest houses) typically incur higher insurance costs due to the increased value and potential for claims. The type of property, whether it’s a single-family home, a duplex, or a multi-unit apartment building, also affects premiums.
  • Type of Rental (Long-term vs. Short-term): The nature of the rental agreement influences insurance costs. Short-term rentals, such as vacation properties, often require additional coverage for periods when the property is vacant or when different tenants frequently occupy the space. Long-term rentals might have slightly lower costs by comparison but can vary depending on tenant stability and lease terms.

Understanding these factors can help you anticipate the costs associated with each type of insurance and choose the right coverage to protect your property and financial interests effectively.

Factors Driving Cost Differences

Landlord insurance tends to be more expensive than homeowners insurance for several reasons, primarily due to the increased risks associated with renting properties. Here we explore these factors and the additional coverages that typically contribute to the higher costs.

Increased Liability Risks

Landlords face higher liability risks, which significantly impact insurance costs. With tenants, there’s an increased likelihood of liability claims arising from accidents or injuries on the property. For instance, if a tenant or their guest slips and falls due to an unmaintained walkway, the landlord could be held liable. Landlord insurance policies typically offer more extensive liability coverage to protect against these risks, which can drive up the cost​​.

Risk of Non-Owner Occupied

Properties that are not owner-occupied—like rental properties—are considered higher risk by insurance companies. This is because tenants may not treat the property with the same care as an owner, leading to increased chances of damage and subsequent claims. Furthermore, with the owner not present to monitor the property’s condition regularly, small issues might go unnoticed and develop into serious problems, increasing potential insurance claims​​.

Potential for Loss of Rental Income

Another critical factor in the higher cost of landlord insurance is the potential for loss of rental income, which is a coverage not typically included in homeowners insurance. If a rental property becomes uninhabitable due to a covered event, such as a fire or major water damage, landlord insurance can cover the lost rental income during the repair period. This coverage is crucial for landlords relying on rental payments as a significant part of their income, and it adds to the insurance cost​​.

Examples of Typical Additional Coverages

  • Liability Coverage: Landlord insurance policies offer extensive liability protection to cover legal fees, medical bills, and other costs associated with injuries on the property. This is more comprehensive than what is typically available in homeowners policies, reflecting the greater risks of having tenants.
  • Loss of Rent Coverage: This covers the rental income lost during periods when the property is uninhabitable due to insured damage. The ability to recoup lost income is essential for landlords and is a significant reason why landlord insurance premiums are higher.

Understanding these factors helps explain why landlord insurance is typically more expensive than homeowners insurance. It’s designed to address the unique risks and potential financial impacts specific to rental property ownership, ensuring that landlords are adequately protected against a broader range of potential issues.

Impact of Local Factors on Insurance Costs in California

Insurance costs in California are significantly influenced by various regional factors, including natural disasters and property values. Understanding these elements can help property owners make informed decisions about their insurance coverage.

Specific Risks in California

California is prone to a variety of natural disasters that can greatly affect insurance premiums. These include:

  • Earthquakes: California is one of the most earthquake-prone areas in the United States, necessitating additional earthquake coverage that can increase insurance costs.
  • Wildfires: Areas susceptible to wildfires, especially in regions like Southern California, often see higher insurance premiums due to the increased risk of property damage.
  • Floods: Especially in coastal or low-lying areas, the risk of flooding impacts insurance costs. Properties near bodies of water may require additional flood insurance, which is typically not covered under standard policies.

Higher Property Values

The high value of property in many parts of California also plays a critical role in insurance costs. Higher property values mean higher potential payouts in the event of a claim, which can lead to increased premiums. Urban areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles, known for their high real estate prices, often see higher insurance rates compared to more rural areas.

Regional Factors Affecting Insurance Rates

  • Proximity to Water Bodies: Properties located near the coast or other large bodies of water in California may face higher insurance costs due to the increased risk of flooding or storm-related damages.
  • Wildfire-Prone Areas: Properties in wildfire-prone areas are subject to higher insurance premiums. Insurers may also require homeowners to take additional precautions, such as creating defensible spaces around the property or using fire-resistant materials in construction, to mitigate risks.

These local and regional factors make insurance coverage a particularly important consideration for property owners in California. By understanding the specific risks associated with their property’s location, homeowners and landlords can better assess their insurance needs and ensure adequate protection against potential losses.

Safeguarding Your Investment with the Right Insurance Policy

Understanding the key differences between landlord insurance and homeowners insurance is crucial for effective property management and protection. These policies cater to different risks and requirements, underscoring the importance of selecting the right one to safeguard your assets.

At Old Harbor Insurance, we specialize in helping you choose the ideal policy that aligns with your specific needs. Our expertise ensures that you receive comprehensive coverage at competitive rates, minimizing risks and protecting your investment. Trust us to guide you through the intricacies of insurance coverage, ensuring your peace of mind.


Is landlord insurance mandatory for rental properties?

Landlord insurance is not legally mandatory but highly recommended. Many lenders require it if you have a mortgage on the property, and it protects against financial losses due to tenant-related issues or damages.

Can I use homeowners insurance for a rental property?

Homeowners insurance typically does not cover rental activities. If you rent out your property, especially long-term, you will need landlord insurance to ensure proper coverage for tenant-related risks.

What additional coverages should I consider as a landlord in California?

In California, consider adding earthquake and flood insurance, given the region’s susceptibility to these natural disasters. Coverage for loss of rent and extended liability are also prudent to protect against financial losses from unforeseen events.

How does the tenant’s insurance interact with landlord insurance?

Tenant’s insurance, or renters insurance, primarily covers the tenant’s personal property and liability. It complements landlord insurance by covering aspects not typically protected under a landlord’s policy, reducing potential disputes over damages.

What happens if I don’t have landlord insurance for my rental property?

Without landlord insurance, you risk facing significant out-of-pocket expenses for property damage, legal fees, and lost rental income from tenant-related issues or natural disasters. It exposes you to financial vulnerabilities that could impact your property investment.