My sister lives in Houston Texas. It was stressful watching from afar the water damage in her city. She was lucky with no water but there were many who experienced severe damage to their homes and apartments and possessions. Since that storm, we have also watched the water and wind invade Florida.
If a disaster strikes the property that you rent are you protected? It could be a fire, tornado, or severe storm – whatever the threat, your rental apartment or house could be at risk. Where will you go if your home is unsafe to live in? What if your furniture and other personal items are destroyed?
If you thought it was the responsibility of the landlord – think again.
The landlord has hazard insurance on the property, covering the building but not the personal contents. It will pay for repairs but not for damaged contents. Nor will it pay rent for a displaced tenant who needs to find another place to live while the repairs occur.
Renters insurance protects tenants and covers costs for replacing furniture, clothes, and other property damaged by the disaster. This insurance may include temporary housing while the unit is repaired.
While attending college a friend’s son lived in an apartment where there was a fire in a unit next to his apartment. Because he had renters insurance, the insurance paid for any damage done to his belongings and provided housing while the repair occurred.
According to National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average cost of renters insurance in Iowa is about $15/month. Fifteen dollars a month is two meals at a fast food restaurant, a small price compared to what it would cost if you needed to replace everything you own after a fire or storm. There are additional protection (riders) you can add if you have tools, electronics, and jewelry.
Usually when I talk about the importance of renters insurance, I’m thinking of young adults – college students, those just getting started in life. Young adults may not be aware renters insurance even exists. However, people of all ages may need a reminder that renter’s insurance is important!
Even though 96% of homeowners have homeowners insurance, only 37% of renters have renters insurance, according to a 2013 poll by the Insurance Information Institute. That’s frightening, when you think about it. If any of those households was hit with a fire or tornado, they could be financially devastated.
Yet, as I was recently reminded, even people who have had homeowners insurance for years might forget to immediately obtain renters insurance when they make a change. Perhaps they’re downsizing from a house to an apartment. Or they may be in transition – moving to a new city and testing it out before deciding whether to purchase a home.
You definitely do not want to be “between” insurance plans when disaster strikes. If you know someone who may be making a housing transition, remind them to obtain renters insurance coverage without delay!
Like some of you, I’m sending my children off to college this week. It’s amazing all the “stuff” they take — so much more quantity and more value than when I went to college. What would happen if your child’s possessions were destroyed in a fire or tornado? Would your insurance cover the cost of replacing all the electronics, furniture, books, and other supplies?
Whether your student is living in a residence hall or an apartment, be sure to talk with your insurance agent about this. Ask what coverage you have for property that is “off premises” (in other words, located somewhere outside your home). That will help you decide if your child needs to have his/her own renter’s insurance to cover their stuff in case of theft or other disaster.
If you decide you should have extra coverage for your child’s possessions while they’re away at school, use this opportunity to teach your child about renter’s insurance. Take her/him with you to talk with the agent and pay for it. Even though it is inexpensive, renter’s insurance is often neglected by young adults, and if your child learns its importance while in college, then he/she will be more likely to get coverage after college, as well. ~Barb