What insurance do you need if you buy a duplex?

Insuring a duplex is very different from one for a single-family home. For starters, this is two families living under the same roof, although they are different homes. In the end, it all comes down to the buyer's intentions for the property. 

What to Consider

To know how to insure a duplex, there are several things that need to be considered and will determine the type of insurance you purchase.  

  • Are you buying one side or both sides of the duplex?
  • If only one side will be bought, will this be a private home or for a rental?
  • If you buy both sides, will you be renting one or renting both?

Buying One Side

In this case, a home insurance policy is written for the half being purchased. Replacement cost is calculated from the area of one side of the duplex. Contents, the building structure, detached structures (garage and/or sheds), and personal liability are covered just like a family policy insurance is written.

If the half is being purchased as a rental, a landlord policy is written. These policies only cover the building.  

Buying Both Sides

If you are buying both sides of the duplex to live in one and use the other for rental, most insurance companies will write a single home policy for both sides. Replacement costs are, in this case, calculated according to the area of the entire duplex. This computation will include both kitchens, all the bathrooms, bedrooms, and other living areas. Contents insurance for the side you are occupying will be arranged separately from the building. The tenant will need to purchase a renter's insurance policy.

A landlord policy on the total structure will be needed if the owner buys both sides and both will have tenants. There have been cases in which a couple of carriers require a separate landlord policy.