Copper Theft

House under rehab had a break-in.
Water meter, A/C unit, A-coil, wiring, and water heater hookups are gone.
Insurance guy said I bought extra vandalism and malicious mischief coverage, but since the house wasnt occupied, theft is not covered.
Since all the metal was removed, he considered this theft and wont cover it.

Is this consistent with other’s experiences?
Does anybody self-insure?
My homes are cheap(20K max). This is my first claim on anything ever.
My premiums seem like a rip off if they don’t cover my needs.


Houses that are not occupied need different insurance than occupied houses. They are usually 6 month policies that cost me about $500. I don’t self insure because of liability.

How did he steal the water meter without getting all wet?

Water was shut off.

The first time I had a meter stolen, but my main shutoff and the water companys shutoff were broken, so they got wet.

Our foremost policies require us to let our agent know when the properties are vacant for over a month. The annual premium goes up a little when the house is vacant. We carry a high deductible so the only time I plan on using our coverage is in case of a total loss. A situation like yours would just be another unfortunate event that we would have to fix ourselves.

I use foremost too.
They are pretty reasonable. I’m going to look into raising my deductibles even more
Short of total loss, I cant see myself ever turning a claim in.

Our 20-25k houses usually run about 400 per year. If you have Guideone there, our similar properties insured with them cost about 200-250 per year.

I am insured with Columbia Lloyds. My houses are a bit more expensive. (value around $80k - $150k). My most expensive insurance is $450/year.

I work with large groups of investors and rehab 3-4 houses per month, then rent them. Vandalism deductible insurance for them is $3000. Break Ins happened early on but was able to solve the problem by first getting mnmum electric working, then getting alarm systems into the house. We put sensors on the crawlspace doors. Once they know the house is wired with an alarm, they stay away. If they try to cut the power, we are still notified. There are no phone lines. We use cell battery to power the system. We pass the cost of the monthly alarm fee over to the tenants. The tenants love having an alarm system.

I have about 75 houses now. We do get calls on attempted break ins but thus far, no more losses. PROBLEM SOLVED.

This is the problem with insurance on these houses. IIRC, my deductible is $5k. I don’t have insurance to make repairs for me.

Yes, rehab insurance (builders risk insurance) usually has a very high deductible. I personally “self insure” up to that deductible amount. I have frequently had a $3k-5k deductible, but recently found a company that gives me a $500 deductible!!!

Also, talk to your agent to make sure you are covered properly. I always have vacancy & theft / malicious vandalism (or whatever they call it) coverage on ALL of my policies.

There are several common sense ways to secure your property, and scare off potential copper thieves / burglars, though…

  • In lower income parts of town, you cannot beat burglar bars on the house. They are especially valuable on the windows not visible from the street & on the AC unit. But I would not recommend them on a flip, only a rental, and also only in a lower income or not so great part of town (middle & upper income customers will get scared off by burglar bars)

  • In all other parts of town…good exterior lighting, locks on all gates, anti-door kick in reinforcements (the #1 recommendation I can make - see for more details), alarm systems and/or alarm system SIGNS, avoiding situations which makes the house appear vacant (closed mini-blinds, hiding the lockbox somewhere besides the front door, no signs in the yard until you have to put one there), getting to know the immediate next-door neighbors (tell them what you’re doing to improve the neighborhood, that you will probably get an alarm system, that you will secure the house, then give them a business card & tell them you would appreciate it if they will call you if they see anything unusual going on there) — all are things that work really well. I have even heard about a guy who leaves a radio and/or TV on at night, and parks an old car in the driveway which helps give the appearance the house is occupied.

The advice about neighbors is great. I do this with my rentals to the extent possible. Leave a card, spend time chatting with the little old lady and send them a christmas card at christmas. It’s good business and personally very rewarding.