The 5 Key Things To Know About Renter's Insurance
Hurricane Irene left lots of damage to rental properties that aren't covered
Purchasing insurance policies are normally overlooked when natural disasters haven’t taken place for some time. Hurricane Irene has reminded the 3.3 million people left in the dark that such investments are needed during times like this.
A 2006 Insurance Research Council poll found that 96% of homeowners had homeowners insurance while only 43% of renters had renters insurance. Why such a big difference? “Some renters are under the impression that it’s the landlord’s responsibility to get them insurance coverage,” Michael Barry, Vice President of Media Relations for Insurance Information Institute, told the Loop 21. “Before a renter moves in to a unit, they ought to talk to the person who issues their auto insurance policy because many auto insurers will also offer renters insurance,” Barry advised.
Hurricane Irene forced more than 370,000 NYC residents to evacuate from their homes, many leaving with the uncertainty of what they would return to after the storm.
A new estimate shows the hurricane caused $3 billion to $6 billion in insured losses. Loop 21 has the key information you need for protecting your rented property.
Know your insurance policy
If you want to change your policy before a storm hits, insurers normally will not allow it. When the storm hits, be sure to know where your insurance policy forms are and keep them safe. Also, keep the number you need to call to file a claim at hand.
Water damages? You need flood insurance
If you’re a renter with no flood insurance policy, you’re not alone. Just 14% of homeowners had a flood insurance policy this year. As a renter, one of the best ways to protect your property is to purchase flood insurance. According to FloodSmart.gov, residential premiums start as low as $49 per year for Contents Only coverage in a moderate risk area.
Inventory of possessions
It’s important to have record of your personal belongings before a storm hits. “If you don’t have inventory of your possessions, make one,” said J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America.. “If it’s after the fact, look for some photos from Christmas or such events to help provide evidence of what you had.” Hunter told the Loop 21 that such records are especially important if you have valuable assets in your rented home compared to someone living in a furnished apartment. Such evidence will help you make your claim quicker and more efficiently. Free online software can help you keep track of your belongings. If you do not have renters insurance or flood insurance, the federal government may cover the damages.
If you’re property is already damaged from Hurricane Irene or any such disaster, then the federal government may cover your costs. [Note: Be sure to take photos of the damages and if possible save evidence of the damaged property.] The Small Business Administration (SBA) can loan money to renters for disaster related repairs. Renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged personal property including vehicles. If the SBA loan did not cover all your needs, visit Fema.gov to see if the government can cover your expenses.
Beware of Fraudsters!
If you need repairs done, be sure to check the licensing and references before hiring a contractor. Before agreeing to anything, insist on a written estimate so they won't rip you off. Also, there's no need to pay them up front because they expect to be paid in percentages.