The Gallatin News
“Tennessee Renters Need Insurance”
"More than ever before, Americans are suffering from back problems: back taxes, back rent, back auto payments.” ~ Robert Orben, American humorist and former White House speechwriter
According to numbers announced in June 2012, Tennessee’s population has increased by 12.55 percent – or more than one-eighth – since 2000, to a new figure of 6,403,353.
The 2010 Census revealed that over 1.9 million Tennesseans – about 30.4 percent of all persons in Tennessee – live in rented home units such as houses, apartments, duplexes, and manufactured homes (formerly known as ‘mobile homes’).
The majority of these renters, however, do not have renters insurance. During the past year, many Tennessee renters suffered significant losses of their personal property due to fires, theft, and floods.
This week’s column answers questions about renters’ insurance – a smart idea to help cover the ‘smart’ of personal property losses.
Q. Why do I need renters’ insurance? Doesn’t my landlord carry insurance?
Most landlords and property owners do purchase and maintain insurance to pay for damage or loss to their rented property in case of fire, burst pipes, or other hazards.
This insurance purchased by the landlord, however, usually does not cover the contents of the rented housing unit.
This means that tenants without renters’ insurance are not protected by insurance in case their furniture, clothing, and other personal belongings are damaged, destroyed, or stolen.
Some residential landlords have started adding bolded language in their lease agreements to spell out that it is up to the tenant to carry insurance to protect the tenant’s personal property.
Q. I don’t do anything risky. Why do I need renters’ insurance?
Basic renters’ insurance usually covers a large range of risks that may happen even to renters with careful, safe lifestyles:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm, tornado, or hail
- Riot of civil commotion
- Damage caused by vehicles or aircraft
- Smoke damage
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, or automatic fire-protective sprinkler system, or from a household appliance
- Freezing of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or automatic, fire-protective sprinkler system, or of a household appliance
- Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current (does not include loss to a tube, transistor or similar electronic component)
Note: Renters’ insurance does not usually cover damage from earthquakes or floods, unless you purchase a “rider” for such risks. A “rider” is an add-on provision to an insurance policy that provides additional coverage for special circumstances.
Q. But isn’t renters’ insurance expensive?
Actually, no. Most insurance companies provide basic renters’ insurance at a low monthly cost, ranging from $9 to $17 to $28 per month. Shop around for free quotes.
Q. Can renters’ insurance be paid in advance, for more than a month at a time?
Yes. In fact, many insurance companies who offer such inexpensive renters insurance will allow pre-payment for six or 12 months of coverage.
Q. Is renters’ insurance needed for college students?
Maybe. Some parents’ homeowner policies will cover dormitory room losses for a dependent college student, but will not cover losses in off-campus housing. Ask your insurance provider to be sure – before a loss happens!
Gift-giving Tip: Paying for renters’ insurance may just be that perfect gift for family members or friends who rent their homes!
James B. (Jim) Hawkins is a general practice and public interest law attorney based in Gallatin. This column represents legal information, and is not intended to take the place of legal advice. All cases are different and need individual attention. Consult with a private attorney of your choice to review the facts and law specific to your case.