Guest Post by Jennifer Riner of Zillow
Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and fires seem to be occurring more frequently these days. The news regularly reports on residents who’ve lost all of their belongings in natural disasters, encouraging neighbors and friends to contribute basic materials for families to survive. These catastrophes are beyond human control and can negatively alter many lives, especially when it comes to living situations and personal mementos.
Fortunately, individuals can lessen the damages caused by natural or inadvertent tragedies by purchasing the appropriate insurance. While homeowners insurance is a widely accepted and often mandatory expense, most underestimate the need for renter’s insurance.
Not all landlords require their tenants to obtain renter’s insurance, but here are a few specific reasons lessees should safeguard their assets in case misfortune strikes.
Landlord’s Insurance Doesn’t Cover Personal Belongings
Renters sometimes naively assume their furniture and material possessions are secure under landlord’s insurance policies. Landlords typically carry homeowners insurance which protects structural damages, but most plans don’t reimburse tenants for damaged electronics, furniture and other expensive belongings.
While homeowners insurance covers property damages, the effects of the damages to leaseholders’ possessions are not. For instance, a landlord’s policy most likely covers roof damage from a hail storm. However, if water leaks through ceilings and ruins tenants’ laptops or televisions, landlords and their insurance policies are not liable to replace them. Renter’s insurance protects tenants’ assets when unavoidable damages are out of their control.
Similar to any insurance policy, individual cases require varying levels of coverage. Renters with highly-valuable possessions or rare antiques should inquire about more specialized policies.
Renter’s Insurance Can Provide Accommodations in Emergencies
Natural disasters can leave families stranded without shelter for extended periods of time. Some policies cover the costs of alternative rental homes, at least until it’s legally safe for tenants to return to their original properties. Compensated rent enables tenants to avoid motel hopping or sleeping on sofas during stressful times.
Accommodation coverage plans are essential investments for large families who may not have a place to go if their rental home becomes unlivable. Staying at hotels is costly, and extended stays add up quickly. Imagine having to pay $100 or more per night for a tiny hotel room on top of basic living expenses. Without insurance, renters must pay out of pocket to replace all lost belongings, clothing and food.
Lessees Carry a Degree of Liability
Tenant liability is arguably the most important aspect of renter’s insurance and can surface in many ways. If a guest or contractor trips over a renter’s extension cord, it’s the tenant’s responsibility to pay subsequent medical bills. Further, any pet-related bites or injuries are paid for by the tenant, assuming they are the registered owner of the animal. Keep in mind that accidents occurring due to building structures, such as slipping on icy pathways, are up to the homeowners to resolve as these are considered property defects.
Overall, renter’s insurance is worth its minimal monthly cost. Policies run as low as $20 per month and can be bundled with other insurance policies (auto and life) for a discounted rate. Prospective renters beginning their property searches should contact insurance agents to discuss the available plans and their associated fees. Before committing to a lease, be sure to budget for renter’s insurance.
The opinions and services of Jennifer Riner and Zillow are independent of The Stanich Group, LLC.