by Terry Rogers
According to the Census Bureau, over 30 percent of Delaware residents rent the home they live in, whether it is an apartment or a house. If you are a renter, you may be unaware that your personal property is not covered under your landlord’s insurance should there be a fire, water leak or other catastrophe. A renter’s insurance policy covers your personal belongings as well as other expenses that you may incur after an incident in your rented home.
“The most common thing we hear from renters is that they don’t own much, so why have insurance,” Louis Fevrin of Allstate Insurance said. “Then, I start talking to them about simple things. If you could change your entire wardrobe, you would. You don’t because it is too expensive. But what if you had no choice and you had to replace all your clothes? You may not think you have much, but what you do have cannot be easily replaced overnight. Another thing to consider. You may not think about your phone, your laptop, your iPad if there is a fire and you definitely will not think to grab the chargers. You are trying to get you and your family out of there. Replacing those things can be expensive. That’s where renter’s insurance comes in.”
It is not just your possessions that renter’s insurance can protect. After a fire or significant water damage, your home may not be suitable for living until repairs are made. If this happens, you could be forced to live with your parents, other family members or friends. If you have children, this can not only be inconvenient for you, but also for those who allow you to stay with them.
“One way or another, you are inconveniencing someone,” Fevrin said. “If not, you are incurring costs for temporary housing. Can you really afford to pay for a hotel for a week or two? You also have to consider food in addition to needing to replace your pajamas and underwear. If you cannot live in your home, you will be eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Think how expensive that can be and, if you have kids, you know how much it costs when you take them out for one meal, let alone every meal for a week or two. We pay for a hotel, and not a roach motel, but a Holiday Inn quality hotel. We pay for your meals. All of that is covered with renter’s insurance.”
Many times, problems in rental units are not due to something you did yourself. During the recent cold snap, Mr. Fevrin said that he had received many calls from renters who were dealing with damaged property after pipes burst in their apartment or house, something that the landlord is responsible for managing. He said it could be a neighbor who sets the apartment complex on fire or leaves the water running in the bathroom above your bedroom. Renter’s insurance gives you protection against errors made by someone else.
“The cost is so minimal,” Fevrin said. “On average, the cost for renter’s insurance for an apartment is $12 and change while a house costs $14 and change. For between $12 and $15, you can have peace of mind. That’s less than you spend at Starbucks, for your internet, Netflix, a family dinner at McDonald’s. When we have paid claims under rental insurance policies, the low average is $15,000 for a small apartment. Houses average much higher and, if you do not have renter’s insurance, that $15,000 is coming out of your pocket. Let’s say a water pipe bursts and drenches your sofa. You may say that sofa was not worth much, but a new sofa, even a cheap one, will cost you between $200 and $300. That same $200 would have bought you two renter’s policies over the year. You may think you are saving money, but when something goes wrong, and it will, you end up spending more.”
Even items in your refrigerator or freezer may be covered by renter’s insurance should you be without power for an extended period, such as during snow and ice storms. Mr. Fevrin said that most people don’t think about what it would cost just to replace the contents of a refrigerator, but that the average claim is around $200.
“Even if you think you don’t have much, you actually have a lot more than you think,” Mr. Fevrin said. “Look around your house and start totaling what it would cost if you had to replace everything you own. I am certain your total will be well over $10,000 by the time you are done.” The Fevrin Allstate Agency is located in the Airpark Plaza at 915 North Dupont Highway, Suite 102 in Milford. To learn more, contact them at 302-424-8490.
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